Is it really any wonder that financial stress is causing more women to have serious health issues than it is men? And if we know this what can we do about it?
That’s been one of the key findings of new research by financial services firm Acorns Grow Australia.
The survey of 1000 people found that women under financial stress are more likely to experience mental and physical health problems, while men tended to turn to alcohol or drugs.
Perhaps this should come as no surprise given the widely reported statistics which show that compared to men, the average women earns less, has around half the amount of superannuation savings, is more likely to retire in poverty if elderly and single, plus the majority of single parents are women.
“Money is a leading cause of stress and stress is a leading cause of disease,” says financial advice and well being coach Lea Schodel.
“A women’s relationship with money absolutely has a direct link to her mental and physical health, self-esteem, happiness and wellbeing.”
It’s often the case that the short fall in a woman’s earnings and retirement savings comes down to women being the primary carers of children and loved ones, while men remain the main family breadwinners in Australian families today.
The best advice often given to women who are struggling financially is to consider doing the following.
1. Try to get an emotional grip. Your mental health is a priority, so try if you can not too get overwhelmed as it will distract you from what you need to do to improve your situation.
2. Consider your options. Think about what you can do to improve your situation. Does this mean earning more, taking a second job, selling unused items.
3. Set a budget. Being more structured about your spending can give you more of a plan of attack to get on top of your financial pressures and help to rein in spending for a period.
4. Seek support. You don’t have to pay for financial advice to get money help. There are plenty of free support services available to women from facebook community groups such as Women With Cents and Women Talk Money, to larger organisations such as the Salvation Army’s Financial Counselling Service, Good Shepard, WIRE women’s service in Victoria.
5. Massage and relaxation. Don’t laugh! Studies out of the United States have found that those who have regular massages or do regular relaxation and meditation exercises (opt for the free kind) can significantly lower there stress levels and often have more clarity when it comes to making decisions.
6. Ignore the hype. If you find that part of your financial stress is coming from external factors such as talk about what property prices are doing or whether shares are going up or down, then it might be time to either tone it down or switch it off.
“Learn how to recognise your triggers of stress,” adds Ms Schodel. “Only once you can identify what actions, thoughts or behaviours you have that are causing the stress can you start to put measures in place to manage or avoid them.
“Only then can we begin to change the behaviours that contribute to our stress levels and start to focus on creating financial wellbeing,” she says.
One of the biggest biological advantages in being a woman is that we are actually more likely to make considered well researched, and less risky financial decisions than men. This might just help to give you some perspective!