We tend to think of financial health and physical health as two separate things. When we need financial assistance, we call up our financial adviser or accountant. When we have a medical issue, we seek out our doctor. However, a rising body of evidence1 suggests that the two forms of health are inextricably linked.
A closer examination of the relationship between your finances and your physical health sheds light on how money matters can have a profound impact on your overall well-being.
- Effects on physical health
A 2018 study2 by American researchers at the cardiology and geriatric departments of UCLA, the economics department at Dukes University, and the epidemiology division at Drexel University, found that blood pressure and blood glucose levels were significantly higher in adults experiencing financial stress. This backs up a 2013 study3 by the Northwestern University, which found that adults with higher levels of debt also had higher diastolic blood pressure – putting them at significantly more risk for heart attacks and strokes.
In addition to increased risk from high blood pressure, stress can also cause other harmful behaviours, such as overeating or increased reliance on cigarettes, alcohol, and even recreational drugs.4 High cortisol levels from stress increase appetite5 – especially for sugary or fatty foods. Smoking, drinking, and the highs or mellowing effects of narcotics also appear more attractive during stressful times.6
- Effects on emotional and social health
Stressed people are not pleasant people to be around. Angry outbursts, excessive crying, emotional withdrawal, lack of interest, and chronic low energy levels are common symptoms of a stressed psyche.7 This is all bad news for the individual, as it makes their life miserable while at the same time making them less likely to seek help. It also makes life miserable for the family, friends and co-workers who must co-exist with them.
The effects of financial stress on children are particularly long lasting. Research shows that children who experience socio-economic adversity at an early age8 are at increased risk for mental health issues in their teens and beyond.
- Effects on healthcare
Financially-stressed individuals often make the decision to cut back on, or even cancel, healthcare services. Studies have shown that 1 in 5 people have skipped going to the doctor due to financial concerns.9 Getting good treatment also becomes more difficult if one cannot afford medical aid, or indeed doctors’ bills.
These points highlight the importance of financial management in keeping you, and your family, healthy and happy. A good employee benefits programme, such as ones offered by Alexander Forbes, can give you the advice and services you need to minimise financial stress (and life stress). With expert advice and support, you can live comfortably within your means. So, for financial health that contributes to physical health – count on our advice.