Can Your Finances Affect Your Health?

When it comes to enhancing overall health, diet, exercise, and mental health seem to be the keys to a balanced healthy lifestyle — but do finances play a role? The answer seems to be yes. According to a 2017 study published in The Canadian Veterinary Journal, there are eight keys (or dimensions) of wellness, with finances being on that list.

Financial stress at high levels can affect the body over time and lead to physical symptoms. Purdue University points out some of these symptoms include depression, anxiety, headaches, migraines, digestive problems, and high blood pressure. Financial strain can also disrupt or impede sleep and cause insomnia, according to Everyday Health. In fact, one 2022 study published in Sleep found financial stress was a reason why insomnia rates rose 27% between 2018 and 2020.

In 2018, financial stress was the top stressor for both men and women, according to the Everyday Health United States of Stress survey. In fact, over 52% of respondents claimed that it's a regular stressor. Financial psychologist and licensed family and marriage therapist, Alex Melkumian, points out too much financial stress can be pervasive and detrimental (via Everyday Health). "You feel like there is nowhere to turn without being stressed or traumatized by your financial situation," Melkumian told Everyday Health.

How to boost your financial health

Managing money-related stress is the key to promoting financial wellness. While there isn't a "one-size-fits-all" formula for improving financial well-being, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau explains "financial well-being describes a continuum — ranging from severe financial stress to being highly satisfied with one's financial situation — not strictly aligned with income level." This means you want to feel in control of your finances — regardless of your income level — and not have your finances control you. Viewing finances as a continuum allows you to work toward financial goals with more ease and gives you the flexibility to make purchases based on enjoyment (via Everyday Health).

Building financial well-being doesn't happen overnight. However, there are steps you can take to optimize your finances. Start by re-calibrating your finances, creating a budget, and setting realistic money-related goals (via WellyBox). One goal could be to start an emergency fund or pay off debt or loans. As you get more comfortable with your finances, investing is another option. Regardless of where you're at, WellyBox points out that continual financial education and evaluations are keys to financial wellness.