Debt can be a heavy burden. From talking with our clients we know that debt has been on their minds 24/7; impacted their everyday decision making; forced them to go without essentials and in many cases led to social isolation.
50% of British adults with a debt problem have a mental health problem and 25% of adults with a mental health problem have a debt problem. To us, the link between stress-inducing debt and the nation’s current mental health crisis is clear. We’re here to help people struggling with debt and want to help you to manage your stress on your journey towards becoming debt-free.
Debt and mental health – the ‘missing link’
If left unchecked, stress caused by debt can become a gateway to more serious mental health issues. We echo the opinion of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute who believe that debt is the ‘missing link’ between financial and mental health problems. From our research, here are the 8 most shocking findings:
- People in Debt have been bracketed as a ‘high-risk’ group in terms of potential mental health problems – alongside children in care; drug users and prisoners.
- Debt has a stronger correlation with mental disorders than low income.
- Those in debt are 3x more likely to suffer from depression than those debt-free.
- Levels of anxiety increase in parallel with credit card debt levels.
- People with debt are 4x more likely to still have depression after 18 months of treatment than those who are debt free and sought treatment.
- Financial disagreement is the most common cause of divorce. Those who disagree about finances almost every day had an estimated 69% increase in the hazard ratio of divorce relative to those who never argue about finances.
- Around 2.4 million children live in highly indebted households in the UK. Amongst these children: 58% said that they worry about their family’s financial situation, and nearly 20% said they had been bullied at school as a result of lacking things their peers had.
- Unsecured debt is likely to have a greater influence on psychological well-being than secured debt.
Managing debt stress
If stress from debt has become unmanageable the best advice is to tackle your debt head-on, but there are also some stress management techniques you could try. These suggestions are by no means exhaustive and if you’re dealing with more serious mental health problems, please seek help from a medical professional.
Firstly, you could take some time for yourself and channel your stress into exercise. This may seem somewhat cliché advice, but the benefits of physical exercise and training for your mental health (as well as physical, obviously) are well documented. Physical exercise reduces cortisol and dopamine and releases serotonin chemicals in the brain – which essentially make us feel happier and more positive. Challenging physical training gives you something to focus your mind on, and in the case of weight lifting, or boxing, it offers a release of anxiety, frustration and other negative emotions. When you’re feeling stressed, you may find exercise helps you to focus your mind on a challenge besides your debt.
When it comes to addressing your debt problem, clarity of thought is absolutely crucial when it comes to coming up with the right plan of action. Mindfulness could also help you to properly process and release debt stress. To be ‘mindful’ means to pay attention to the present moment, instead of your past mistakes and regrets or becoming overly-worried about the future.
More specifically, mindfulness will help you to acknowledge your thoughts and feelings as they arise from moment to moment, without any analysis or judgement. The great thing about mindfulness is that you can practice it for hours at a time in meditation, or on the go throughout the day by focusing on your breathing and surroundings.
Mindfulness can help you to manage stress in everyday situations, to the benefit of your overall mental health. As a starting point, Headspace and Mindful.Org offer a range of short meditations you can use at your convenience. BeMindful also offers a complete, free, beginners’ course which lists the key benefits of mindfulness as follows:
- Feeling less overwhelmed
- Improved sleep quality
- Feel more positive with greater self-compassion
- increase your ability to manage difficult situations
- Reduced levels of stress, anxiety & depression
- Reduced overthinking
Still feeling weighed down?
Ultimately, mindfulness, exercise and any other stress management technique can prove insufficient at a certain point. The best solution for reducing debt stress is to tackle the problem at its root and eliminate your debt. As a starting point, our blog is full of useful tips, as a starting point consult our guides on how to clear your debts like a pro and how to budget. Should these methods and budget plans still leave you in an overwhelming position you may wish to consider a more head-on option.
We are a non-profit, Community Interest Company specialising in debt advice for the residents of Scotland. Our expert advisors are FCA approved and have helped over 16,000 people to become debt free. For free debt, advice give us a call today on 0141 221 0999 or find out if you qualify for a debt solution in 60 seconds. This could be your first step towards a debt-free, stress-free future.