Why can't you sleep at night? Does your mind immediately start churning with thoughts about what you didn't accomplish, tomorrow's to-do list and, worst of all, money? Whether it's how much you earn, unemployment or mounting debt, financial stress is a huge burden on Americans and their sleep. In the 2021 Stress in America press report by the American Psychological Association, 72 percent of survey respondents reported that money had made them experience stress at least once in the last month.
Money is more than just figures in a bank account or notes in a wallet; it's our lifeline to everything. It gives us all the essential resources we need to survive in addition to giving us opportunities to move forward in life. Social events cost money, entertainment that relieves stress costs money and not having enough can lead to clinical depression and anxiety disorders.
Insomnia is perhaps the most obvious and difficult symptom of chronic stress; when you can't sleep, the entire day becomes an uphill battle. The more you try to fall asleep, the harder it becomes, and the cycle repeats endlessly. How do you break through the barrier and get some rest as well as peace of mind? A two-fold approach that addresses your stress and insomnia as well as your very real financial struggles is best. You can learn to sleep better and let go of stress while tackling the money problems strategically.
Getting Your Finances in Order
It's easy for anyone in a good financial situation to offer well-intentioned but often misplaced advice. If getting out of debt was as easy as simply saving more, millions of Americans wouldn't be struggling to make ends meet. From student debt to medical bills, there are plenty of reasons why someone can quickly become encumbered with debt that causes immense stress.
How do you begin to work through the labyrinth? It has to begin with priorities. You know there are certain things you can't afford not to pay each month, e.g., housing and food. The biggest problem arises when your debt is also non-negotiable and causes your essentials to compete with one another.
Your budget only goes so far, even if you happen to be earning a decent salary. When debt gets thrown into the picture, it can become a crippling barrier that prevents you from ever growing beyond a certain point. This stagnation can naturally lead to increased stress levels throughout the day, which in turn make it harder to sleep at night. Whether it's falling asleep or just not feeling refreshed, money problems cost you quality sleep.
Tips for Relieving Financial Stress
The best thing you can do is confront your problems head-on. Avoidance is a common and understandable response to stress, but it actually has the opposite effect. When you have a problem, your brain uses stress as a source of motivation to help you resolve it. When you avoid it instead, you tell your brain that this problem is much bigger than anticipated and poses a threat. This threat causes anxiety, which only leads to more stress. Every time you even think about opening your bank account or calling a lender, you'll likely feel worse.
Choose a time to sit down and dedicate at least 30 minutes to writing down your new financial priorities. What are your greatest debts? List them in order and include the exact amount you owe at the present time. You need a bird's eye view to understand exactly what your finances are going to look like in the coming months; you can't pay off an invisible debt that just keeps getting bigger.
Find Simple Ways to Scale Down Your Living Expenses
How could you save money on groceries? Would buying in bulk help? Could you cut back on brand names and eat generic brands? Your life won't end if you cancel your Netflix subscription to save for a few months, and it could help you get off the screen and explore more active hobbies as well. Finding a silver lining to necessary cutbacks can help you scale down without feeling constricted. it's also helpful to remind yourself that nothing you have to get rid of for now is permanent. When your debts are paid off, you'll be able to rebuild.
Look into Financial Relief
Free credit counselors can help you address credit card debt from a professional standpoint. They can also help you build good money management skills, negotiate with collectors and give you greater confidence in your ability to pay off what you owe. You can also think about how to combine your debts and make them more manageable; one option is taking out a loan with a private lender to cover your outstanding balances. This gives you complete control over how the money is distributed, what it's put toward and how you pay it off.
You should also reach out directly to your lenders/creditors and discuss your current situation. If your current payment arrangement isn't working for you, ask if there is any way to make changes. You can sometimes defer payments due to financial hardship, but make sure this is something you can afford to do after considering any interest you'll accrue over that time. The best bet is generally seeking to combine and reduce monthly costs as much as possible without prolonging any payment periods. Although it can be useful in some cases, deferment isn't recommended if it will only cause you to fall further behind. Also, some emergency cash providers do not perform credit checks; and you can turn to them if the need arises.
Start Treating Your Insomnia
You don't need to pretend you don't have any stress or make it disappear completely. Instead, try to address your stress from a place of acceptance. Label the thoughts and feelings, and take a step back to say to yourself, "I'm feeling really overwhelmed right now." At night, write down a list of your biggest causes of anxiety before bed. This can help you avoid feeling like you have to figure them out rather than sleeping. You should also avoid doing anything that worsens your stress before bed like checking your bank account on your phone.
Build a Toolkit
Therapy might be helpful, but it is also expensive. To help yourself, consider some of the following free resources:
- Stress Management Resources by HelpGuide
- "How to Cope with Financial Stress" by VerywellMind
- "Coping with Medical Problems" by the University of Maryland
Finding resources can give you a greater sense of control. Activism is one of the best ways to combat anxiety. Once you get some momentum going, you'll be surprised at how much more motivated you feel to keep going. Even if it takes time to pay off your debts, taking action and creating a sense of direction can help improve your sleep quality.
Take some steps to set yourself up for healthy productivity, then relax and enjoy the sleep you need.