This month, I’ve decided to write about debt, or, in a more positive term- having financial obligations. As millions, including myself, have suffered through loss of income(s) and/or work, career, or business within the past year in a half. It leads to physical, mental, and emotional distresses. The following is from a manual that I recently read, called “Debt Relief Secrets”. No, I’m not going to reveal their secrets, but use their explanation how debt wreaks havoc upon us. I will reveal how I can help people to release these issues, as I have helped myself over the last year and a half. Keep in mind that this manual came out well before the pandemic came upon us.
Debt Relief Secrets
Overwhelming debt can wreak havoc in your life, beyond merely damaging your credit score. It’s stressful and can ruin your piece of mind. The good news, though, is that you can get help with your credit card debt and feel safe and secure again.
We’ve all heard the saying “Money can’t buy happiness.” Sounds pretty brilliant, right? Except the creator of that phrase probably didn’t have an empty bank account and a massive stack of unpaid bills. While money cannot literally purchase happiness, it’s definitely the only thing that is going to pay your bills. While paying them does nit always provide a considerable surge of joy, it certainly helps with relieving some of the burden and anxiety coming from your dark cloud of debt.
On the flip side, it is difficult to fathom anyone feeling any sort of happiness or relief over unpaid bills. There may be psychological condition out there that causes people to find joy in bankruptcy, but scientists have yet to discover it.
At a minimum, we all want to provide for our families, enjoy some leisure time, and plan for our future. Having sufficient funds to pay our bills makes all of that possible.
When the necessary money doesn’t exist, we feel trapped. We become confined by what we can afford to do or where we can afford to go. Whether it’s visiting family, friends, or just taking a weekend trip, the debt is always there hanging over you. It’s a very stressful situation to deal with and can actually lead to a whole new array of issues that have nothing to do with dollars and cents. It causes profound psychological strife.
The effects are more severe than you might realize, and can include impaired cognitive functioning and lower self-esteem. You may not be able to think properly, remember, learn, or solve problems. It can impact your confidence to tackle the problem, even if you weren’t already preoccupied with worrying about how you’re going to keep the lights on.
Debt can literally hurt and the pain can be severe. Here’s a number that may shock you at first, but then leave you unsurprised after a bit of thought: a study of 33,720 households in the United States, published by the Psychology of Science in January 2016, showed that out of those households, people in the unemployment brackets were more likely to buy over-the-counter painkillers.
This is a staggering revelation, but not totally unexpected when you think about it. Financial troubles cause so much stress and insecurity that it can lead to feelings of physical agony. In fact, people said they experienced twice as much physical pain when they were financially unstable compared to a period where they were more secure.
It is quite uncommon to find someone who has never experienced any difficulty with money in their lives. There are just so many factors that can have an effect: unexpected job changes, having children, continued education, illness, divorce, and fluctuations in property value, just to name a few. But, of course, the bills remain constant. They never get sick or busy, unfortunately. Which means, in the end, debt can happen to anyone.
What we are saying is, you’re not alone.
So what actually comes first: the debt or the pain?
The Body’s Response to Debt
Can debt cause mental illness? Can mental illness cause debt? Yes. And it happens all the time.
After years of studying those questions, researchers have discovered that debt and mental illness go hand-in-hand. Studies indicate the worrying about bills can trigger stress and anxiety, which can further increase your susceptibility to other mental health issues.
Additional research shows that certain mental health issues can reduce self-control, resulting in overspending. A person’s judgement becomes clouded and they are unable to remain financially responsible.
A misconception about mental illness is that it leads to institutions and straight jackets. This is rarely the case, but the psychological damage debt can cause ought to be taken seriously. Not only can the negative emotions associated with financial struggles have a devastating impact on your life, they can escalate and worsen in time.
Some people simply have behavioral issues that compel them to spend uncontrollably. This can cause a tremendous financial crash and sink the person into debt quickly. No matter how far someone falls, the mere state of being in debt and owing money to financial organizations can leave a person emotionally drained and unsettled.
And, it doesn’t just affect you, it affects everyone around you. It can damage your personal relationships and even lead to divorce.
This is quite the state to be in. We see it around us every day, even if we don’t realize it. In fact, the United States has hit a point where politicians have built up trillions of dollars in national debt. They’re in denial, themselves, shrugging off those bills that will never come due. Or so they think.
It has become a way of life, and quite honestly, the American dream is now overshadowed by debt. In fact, debt is behind the American dream. Want nice things? OK, here you go. But, it will cost you. The cost? Your sanity.
The average consumer cannot create a never-ending deficit. Sadly, many behave like our government, and spend compulsively without really thinking about the repercussions. It’s easy to ignore those ills at first, but that only allows the situation to worsen. However, you just can’t blow them off until you’re absolutely forced to take action. If you do, then the debt collectors will inevitably start with their harassing collection calls, threats of foreclosure, and credit denials. Before you know it, you’ll discover that legal action is being taken against you. It is then, some people start to pay attention.
Are You in Debt Denial?
Be wary that you aren’t committing these mistakes. If you are, then you may be in debt denial:
* You underestimate the amount you owe.
* You don’t answer the phone because it might be a collection agency.
* You leave bills unopened or put them away and ignore them.
* You open up a new credit card once your current one has been maxed out.
* You believe that everyone else is doing the same financially damaging things that you’re doing.
This sort of denial is dangerous and can lead to even more debt. Late fees start getting tacked on , interest charges increase, and the mountain starts becoming taller and taller.
Denial is a pretty easy way for the brain to defend itself, but it is also irrational and irresponsible. It’s a defense mechanism we use to protect our ego from owning up to our mistakes and shortcomings. The problem is, reality always comes back to bite you.
Stress is the opposite of denial and because of bad debt management, it can be sudden and hard-hitting.
Stress can cause many different kinds of health problems including panic attacks, heart disease, obesity, headaches, and depression.
According to a 2016 Nerdwallet study, the average American household has credit card debt of over $16,000, and of those households with debt, the average family owes $134,643. It shouldn’t be surprising then, that 72% of United States citizens felt stressed about their finances, according to a study by the American Psychological Association. In fact, 22% felt “extreme” stress caused by their monetary difficulties.
Panic and Fear
A visual way to explain fear and panic is that they’re basically stress with the scab torn off. You literally face late payments with a whole new sense of physical discomfort that comes in the form of a sped-up heartbeat, dry mouth, headache, shakiness, and shortness of breath.
Additionally, debt can often make people more skittish about relationships. High levels of debt have been linked to reduced rates of marriage among young adults, according to a study completed by the University of Wisconsin.
It is estimated that roughly 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Generally, financial issues are a large trigger for this disorder.
Of course, you can jump to the conclusion of assuming the worst: that you will be homeless and living under a bridge if your home goes under foreclosure. Or you may think your car is going to break down while driving to work and you will get fired to being late.
Who wants to live this way? Avoiding marriage to someone you love, feeling sick and depressed, and being in a state of constant worry is not acceptable.
When the economy started to plummet, people got mad. In fact, the situation got its own name within the medical field and was labelled “Debt-Anger Syndrome”.
Rather than being in denial or panicking, the victims become angry and agitated at the creditors who continuously send bills. They even get upset at the mailman for delivering the unwanted letters. On top of it, they are all ticked at their bosses for not giving them a higher paycheck. That trickles down into blaming their spouse for not bringing in more money, and they become angry at their kids for needing new glasses or school supplies. And finally, they feel rage at themselves for ending up in such a horrible financial mess. They are basically angry at life.
This attitude can ruin your relationships and destroy your personal life. Not to mention the physical effects anger can have on the body, including decreased resistance to infections, increased risk of heart disease, and migraines. WE are literally making ourselves sick.
But it can’t get any worse, right? Wrong. In 2016, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta reported that there was a link between debt and higher death rates. When a person became seriously delinquent on their obligations, this increased the mortality rate by 5% within the first three months that the bill became past due. Conversely, a 100 point credit score increase can cause mortality risk to decline by 4.38%. It’s not just making people sick. It’s literally killing them.
People can panic or be angry or deny debt all day long, but it won’t change the fact that the bills will still be there until they deal with them. This is when the depression begins to set in.
According to research from the University of Nottingham, people who have debt problems are more than twice as likely to suffer from depression than those who , you
This is usually when a person’s self-esteem takes a dive and the hopelessness creeps in. It can escalate even further because some people try to relieve that depression by taking an unaffordable vacation or by going on a shopping spree.
More debt. More depression. More despair. It’s a vicious cycle.
Those aren’t solutions at all, but sometimes people are so overwhelmed that they don’t even care. They just need a temporary escape. It doesn’t matter to them if debt is causing the depression or the depression is creating the debt. The bottom line is that it has spiraled out of control and there is no clarity. They just want it to go away and for there to at least be an end in sight.
The story about the correlation between debt and mental health isn’t purely negative, though. The good news is that treatment can be simple. Instead of spending your money on prescriptions or with a psychiatrist, you can get financial help instead.
While the task is easier said than done, your overall goal is to simply get out of debt. You need to establish a plan and stick to it. It may be difficult, but you have to be confident and believe that you can do it.
No matter what has led you to this terrifying point of increased debt, it is now time to face the situation. You can make goals. You can reduce expenses. You can meet those monthly payments to the financial institutions. You can pay off bills and reduce those interest rates. Set a date and make it your goal to pay off the bills by then.
Once you start to dig yourself out of the financial hole, you will indeed begin to feel better. The stress will lessen and you’ll eventually get to the point where it will go away completely.
My Suggested Relief Options
While the above financial Relief Options above are simple, and I’ve used a few of them to get me started on my path to releasing my financial obligations, and I agree with them that a psychiatrist and prescriptions are not a valuable nor healthy way to proceed, there are safer, healthier, and more effective holistic/alternative options available, and most of them won’t disturb your pocketbook.
Seek a Naturopath or Functional Medicine doctor for medical care. They treat from the root cause(s), not masking symptoms, and offer natural/holistic remedies when needed. A chiropractor is another great option for medical care.
Receiving (Reiki) Energy Healing sessions are highly recommended, as they treat the many issues that this manual mentioned- physical health, mental health (depression, anxiety, anger, etc.), and emotional health. As a Reiki Master Practitioner, I give myself sessions often. There is a small investment for this service. Reiki saved my life, literally, from stress-related chest pains as I was going into work and working a job that I was very unhappy with. Other energy healing modalities are also recommended. Quality essential oils are great for supporting mental and emotional issues.
Some FREE options include: eating healthier (you are already paying for food, so there really isn’t any extra costs)- reduce/cut out processed “foods”, sodas, alcohol, dairy, eat more fruits and veggies, there are some great and healthy recipes and eating plans available that can fit your healthier wants and needs; meditation- there are several great free apps available with thousands of different types of meditations and range of times, they are quite relaxing and life changing, I highly recommend the Insight Timer app; yoga, qi gong, and similar energy body work- there are You Tube videos available, some studios offer in-studio and virtual sessions for minimal fees; sound healing/therapy- most Reiki/Energy Healers provide this modality, otherwise, there are free videos and audios available; walking/jogging, especially on sunny days; and other relaxing and calming therapies are available.