The Wall Street roller coaster can take a toll on more than your wallet. It can impact your health as well.
Financial stress is like any other stress. Stress of any kind can make us feel threatened, triggering our body’s “fight or flight” response. That’s the same reaction you would have if approached by a grizzly bear, for example. Your body’s natural instinct is to either confront the threat or run away from it. A rush of adrenaline and stress hormones allows you to react and protect yourself. This sort of reaction in the short term is fine. Chronic stress and the chronic release of these chemicals, however, can definitely take a toll.
The physical effects of chronic stress include sleep problems, changes in appetite, eating too much or too little, stomach pain, headaches, palpitations, and high blood pressure.
Chronic stress can affect your mental health, as well. It can lead to symptoms of depression or anxiety with persistent sadness, problems with concentration or ability to focus, and a lack of interest in things that usually give you pleasure.
Unfortunately, chronic stress can also lead to various unhealthy habits. Some people turn to smoking, alcohol, or drugs to take the edge off. This may be a slippery slope.
It is important to remember that most people these days are experiencing the same thing you are, or perhaps even to worse extent. Talk to family and friends and commiserate. There are certainly people you can look to for help. A financial advisor can help you come up with a long term strategy, which may make you feel more in control. If the stress is too much for you to handle to the point where it is affecting your relationships and your ability to function, turn to mental health experts.
There are a few personal stress relief exercises that may help. Breathing exercises work well because they can be done anytime and anywhere. Focusing on your breathing can help you calm your body and soothe tense emotions within a few short minutes. Keeping a journal can also help to get your issues down on paper, and also symbolically remove them from your mind. Another way to reduce anxiety about investing is not to listen to too much financial coverage. Try to limit your market reading, television viewing, and stock-table consulting. Most of all, remember the good things you have in your life and realize that this situation too will pass.
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