Is Your Financial Stress Causing You Physical Pain?

New research published in the journal Psychological Science that was led by a team of researchers from the University of Virginia and Columbia University states that money worries can cause not only psychological stress but also experience more physical pain than those who are confident in their finances.

Researchers have seen an increase in both financial insecurity and also complaints of physical pain and hypothesized that financial insecurity would cause people to feel a lack of control in their lives, which would then lead to feeling anxious, stressed and fearful – these psychological responses are linked to physical pain.

To prove their hypothesis researchers conducted six studies which included an online study, a lab-based study testing pain tolerance, and gathering painkiller consumer reports. Evidence from one of the team’s online studies revealed that two factors associated with financial insecurity — participants’ unemployment and state-level insecurity — were both correlated with participants’ self-reports of pain. And in another online study, the participants who remembered a time in their lives of economic instability reported nearly double the amount of physical pain than the participants who recalled an economically stable period in their life.

In the lab-based study, they prompted a group of participants to think about an uncertain job market. These participants showed a lower tolerance to pain – measured by how long they could keep their hand in a bucket of ice water – than those prompted to think about a stable job market showed no changes in their pain tolerance.

After gathering the data from the consumer data, they found that individuals were both adults were unemployed spent 20% more on over-the-counter painkillers compared to households in which one adult was working.

The results from the findings supported the researcher’s hypothesis, with the lead author of the study Eileen Chou concluding that “Overall, our findings reveal that it physically hurts to be economically insecure. Results from six studies establish that economic insecurity produces physical pain, reduces pain tolerance, and predicts over-the-counter painkiller consumption.”

Here are some tips to help you manage financial stress:

Be grateful – Having an “attitude of gratitude” truthfully can have a positive impact on things like financial stress. When someone stops to think about all that, they have they can look back at these pressures and see that more often than not that they are not that bad. This does not mean that we need to stop and compare ourselves to others saying “I am better off than them,” but more of stopping to see what you do have.

Seek out advice – Asking for help doesn’t have to be this taboo thing, but it seems as if society has turned it into such. Taking the time to ask someone who is a professional at finances or financial planning can help take the burden off of your shoulders as you are going through the cognitive restructuring stage of the stress you may be feeling. Asking for help often is the hardest step but can have significant benefits.

Downsize debt – When it comes to debt ask yourself, do I need this item? Often, debt is consumer debt for “things,” and those same “things” are what causes us stress, i.e., boats, ATVs, etc.

Save and invest – This goes along with the tip about seeking out advice. Find the best places to spend your money. Save your money for future more important things.

Recognize your power – It’s your money, use it when you want… wait, isn’t that already a slogan? Recognize that you are the one in control of your money situation. You can improve your income or make it worse with the things that you do each day.

Shift your priorities and values – What do you value when it comes to your life? What kinds of funds do you need to achieve those values? When you shift your values or stop and re-think about them, you can see where you need to be financial to accomplish them.

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