Many Australians are living with immense money stress.
Financial stress can happen to anyone – even those who manage their money well.
Changes to job situations, health and income, living costs and personal relationships are all contributors, but what actually triggers financial stress will differ among individuals.
There are some general themes: high levels of debt, loss of a job, retirement, supporting the family and trying to manage and stick to a budget.
Financial stress has a knock on effect to all other aspects of life.
Those under stress may have a hard time concentrating or completing tasks at home or work.
Money stress is listed as a leading cause in relationship breakdown and is linked to substance abuse and mental illness.
In family situations, when parents feel overwhelmed due to money stress then children will generally feel this impact too.
What is money stress?
Just like other types of stress, money stress releases powerful chemicals in the brain, such as adrenalin and cortisol.
These chemicals increase our heartbeat but slow our immune system.
Whilst a small level of stress can be beneficial, if we experience high and continued levels of stress it can be detrimental to our physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Chronic stress, such as constant financial pressures, being unable to make ends meet, or provide for family means that these powerful stress chemicals constantly bombard the system and can lead to symptoms such as increased sensitivity to infections, weight gain or weight loss, anxiety and depression.
If you feel overwhelmed or financially stressed, there are services that can help:
ASIC Money Smart: provides a range of helpful information on how to talk about your money situation, create a budget or find the right support.
National Debt Helpline: A not-for-profit service that helps people tackle their debt problems. Fact sheets, tips and access to financial counsellors.
Financial Counselling Australia: the peak body for financial counsellors in Australia offers a free financial counselling phone line and resources to find a counsellor in your local area.