What Financial Stress is doing to you?

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Stress is your body’s response to any kind uncertain or uncomfortable situation. You know your blood pressure increases, you become anxious, and there is a certain amount of fear that rushes up, and you end up doing something you shouldn’t. That’s just stress response whenever you encounter a sudden fight or flight situation in life. Now, money is the most essential component of our daily lives. It can quickly convert into a source of happiness orof stress. If you have enough money and you are content, then that’s a piece of great news but if you don’t have enough or you aren’t able to manage or multiply what you have. Then it can bring trouble in your paradise.

Since April marks Stress Awareness Month, we are all at Shapeshift excited to bring you valuable content on how you can manage stress better in different areas of your life to be happy and healthy. Subscribe to our blog here to get regular updates.

How Finance and Stress are Related?

financial stress

Take a moment to think about all the times you have stressed about money. The list can be endless from the reasons like losing a wallet, paying credit bills, carrying too much debt, waiting for a payment, or worrying about expenses for kids, etc. Making money is one problem and then managing it is another.

Financial stress has taken a toll on each one of us. Money resides in the core of everything we do and our relationship with money can reflect the way we behave and lead our lives. If we aren’t able to cope up with financial stress, it can also affect our relationships. It can even negatively impact our work life and put us in a more aggravated state. Before we understand how to overcome financial stress, let’s look at how stress really works in our bodies.

Stress and General Adaptive syndrome

financial stress

Stress manifests not just mentally but physically as well. It has a physical impact on your body which can be understood in three phases. General Adaptation Syndrome is the process in which all these three stages occur.

Alarm Reaction Stage

The first stage is when a signal is sent to a part of the brain called Hypothalamus. It enables the release of a hormone called glucocorticoids. And glucocorticoids triggers the release of Adrenaline and Cortisol, which is a stress hormone. The adrenaline helps you with a boost of energy, and your body undergoes a spike in blood pressure levels. This stage is your instant flight and fight mode response.

So, whenever you hear bad news about money in the form of delayed payment, losing money or unforeseen expenses. Your first stress reaction leads to anxiety and adrenaline and is called the alarm reaction stage.

Resistance Stage

Resistance stage is governed by a part of the Autonomic Nervous System called the parasympathetic. In this stage, your body is trying to get back to normal. To control the response of the initial alarm stage, your body counteracts high-energy consuming adrenalin with the release of cortisol to stay alert but use less energy and restore some of the previous damage. If the situation is solved, such as you are able to make a credit card payment which was due or you receive your money from a client, your body returns to the normal state and cortisol levels drop down to normal.

However, if the stressor remains unsolved, your body will stay in a state of alertness, keeping you active while producing the stress hormones continuously. This isn’t healthy because the accumulation of cortisol can give way to chronic issues such as heart problems, inflammation, and many others.

Exhaustion Stage

When the stressor does not disappear, and your cortisol levels are elevated for longer, you experience what is called chronic stress. After being in this state for some time, you will reach the final state of GAS (General Adaptation Syndrome) called the exhaustion stage. At this point, your body is entirely out of its energy and resources. You may feel tired, depressed and cynical. This is where you are unable to cope or have the will to fight for what’s in front. When there is a financial burden which is too critical, your stress response will enter this stage leading to exhaustion and feeling depleted.

Symptoms of Financial Stress?

financial stress

Financial stress can hinder all areas of your life, and its impact can be observed in your thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Symptoms may include:


The inability to fall asleep because of a financial problem can lead to health problems. When you don’t sleep well, you can exhaust your brain and degrade the quality of your life. One or two sleepless nights may not be a matter of concern, but if you are unable to fall asleep over some time, you are triggering chronic stress.


Whenever you are stressed you may experience severe headaches all the time. It’s because of the vascular changes caused by the outburst of Adrenaline and Cortisol. This leads to having migraine or headache.

Weak Memory

Due to too much stress, your brain isn’t able to store long term memories, and irregular sleep patterns lead to weak memory as well. Your brain has a number of different neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that help your neuronal cells to communicate with each other. When you are continually stressed and have excessive cortisol levels, the hormone interferes with the neurotransmitters and prevents proper organism restoration during which memory consolidation takes place. Memory consolidation is a transfer of your short-term memories from hippocampus into its long-term storage, which only takes place during sleep. On top of difficulties with long-term memories, chronic stress makes it difficult to focus, so your short-term memory suffers as well.

Hair loss

Your grandparents said it right, “stress causes hair loss”. When you are worried about the bills to pay, hair damage can occur. Research has proved that stress is one of the major causes of hair fall, the concept is often called the Alopecia Areata.

Unhealthy emotions

Stress can cause make you experience negative thoughts and unhealthy emotions way too often. You may find yourself to be frustrated, anxious or irritated all the time. This, in turn, accumulates over a long period and leads to depression. Your relationships suffer because of your changing mood swings, and your work goes for a toss making you feel even more miserable.

How to manage financial stress?

financial stress

Recognising that money is causing you stress is the first step to begin. Financial stress is not an uncommon problem. We all go through it once in a while. To make money work for you instead of you stressing about it all the time. And letting it overpower and overwhelm other parts of your life.

Try to include certain practices that can help you manage your finances in a better way. Looking at money as a tool and not as a source of happiness is a great place to be in.

It’s very essential that you understand what money means to you and what is your relationship with it. Are you dependent on money too much, are money controlling you? Or do you have an abundant mindset instead? It can be possible that you have a toxic relationship with money that is leading you to quickly give in to the stress response caused by financial triggers.  When you are objectively able to change your beliefs and mindsets around your money, you can create a healthy and happy life. There are various other ways to manage financial stress.

Read Books

Reading is learning. How we wish we were taught about personal finance during the schooling days. But, not to worry there are a plethora of personal finance books at your disposal. You can pick any and start managing your money. Whether you need help with budgeting, investing or you are looking to change your relationship with money, read.

Seek professional help

If there is nothing that is working right as you are trying to manage your finances. Seeking professional help is okay. Various financial advisors can guide you through financial turmoil.

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Determine what you can change

Financial stress can come from various problems. Determine what you can change and what you cannot. Is it so that your expenses are high and savings less? Or is there an emergency problem? Do you need to budget right? Are you not earning enough? Or you don’t know how to invest? Start with solving one issue at a time and create small habits that can holistically improve your life. And let go of what you cannot change.

Practice Gratitude

This may not be directly solving your financial stresses but being grateful is one essential scientific habit that can create a positive impact. When you are able to see the silver lining, and you feel happy with what you have, managing stress can come a little easier. You may not magically receive money to solve problems, but your perspective may expand, and you can feel abundant to go through money issues with ease and comfort. Mindfulness practice may prove extremely helpful in this regard.


The bottom line is that if you want to enjoy a stress-free life and manage your finances better, you have to take responsibility. Understanding how stress works in your body can give you a starting point to notice and manage the stressors.

No doubt, money is a critical tool and having enough money can help you live a comfortable life. We all want our families to be happy and are always trying to achieve the best. While you are at it, don’t forget to take care of your physical and financial health. Stress can not only manifest in your mind but negatively affect your body as well. Let your money be an enabler for you to achieve your dreams. Learn to manage your finances healthily as soon as possible. Nobody is born rich, or nobody is born with the toolkit on how to handle money. You can learn right now, right here and get your life back on track. Create the right budgets, live a meaningful and minimalist life and most importantly, invest in your self-development.

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