Financial Wellness and Its Role in HealthJan 01, 2022 12:58PM ● By Carolyn Ann Aldridge
Financial stress is one of the most common forms of stress in the United States. According to the American Psychological Association’s latest Stress in America survey, nearly 72 percent of Americans reported feeling stressed about their finances at least once during the month. Managing this stress by working toward financial well-being—which, incidentally, does not mean having to be wealthy—can have a tremendous impact on our overall health.
Financial stress is more likely to occur with individuals who have lower incomes than higher incomes; who may work in organizations that are mentally and physically demanding; and live in areas of the community that expose them to a variety of environmental stressors, including more traffic, less space and even violence. In addition, individuals with lower incomes often have fewer resources available to help them cope with the stresses that they face. This includes access to health insurance, a savings account, a reliable source of transportation and psycho-social resources.
The old saying “health is wealth” may be more than just a cliché. Since the 1980s, societal debt has more than tripled, as well as the cases of heart disease, stroke and mental illness. Financial stress can affect our physical health by raising diastolic blood pressure, increasing muscle tension, and causing weight gain and insomnia. In addition to affecting our physical health, our mental health is also affected; those with financial stress are more apt to feel depressed, anxious and shamed.
To manage financial stress, we must first prioritize what we can control. We can’t change everything that is causing us stress, but we can focus on what we do control, which includes our breath, our gratitude, our mental and physical fitness, our diet and our sleep. We can also find ways to earn more money—remember, every little penny helps. We can coupon, find part-time employment and potentially sell unwanted items to add a little to our income. While making moves toward financial well-being won’t transform our financial life overnight, chances are we will start feeling better quite soon by having taken an active role in the process.
Another move to consider is talking directly to lenders. Despite the common misconception, lenders are willing to negotiate with their customers and develop plans to help them better manage their debt. Contacting them immediately to set up payment arrangements can help alleviate some of that unwanted financial stress.
Financial institutions, such as Alive Credit Union (ACU), can assist with helping us earn more and save more so we can live a financially fit lifestyle. For more than 68 years, ACU has been committed to serving their community in health care and in select organizations, including Southeastern Grocers and anyone that works in real estate. ACU has set their focus on providing the highest level of member service and to also inspire financial wellness through financial education. That is why they have five certified credit union financial counselors on staff to assist members through hurdles. As a valued member, a person has access to a variety of resources, including credit report review, explanation and analysis; debt elimination counseling; budget assistance; and future financial goal planning.
Remember, improving financial well-being not only alleviates credit struggles, but also can improve physical and mental health. So, consider paying down debt, improving your credit score and building more savings. Our body and mind will thank us.
ACU has seven locations in the greater Jacksonville area: Alive Credit Union Home Office, located at 9790 Touchton Road; Atlantic, located at 6131 Atlantic Boulevard; Baptist Health System, located at 820 Prudential Drive; Baymeadows, located at 8367 Baymeadows Way; St. Vincent’s Riverside, located at 1 Shircliff Way; UF Health Jacksonville, located at 655 8th Street West; and West Jacksonville, located at 3003 Lenox Avenue.
For more information about Alive Credit Union, call 904-296-1292 or visit Alivecu.coop. See ad, back cover.