Stress and Money

September 16, 2007 by  
Filed under STRESS

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Who hasn’t stressed over money? Some will reply: ‘those with a lot of it’. That’s an easy conclusion to draw when you are wondering how to make the mortgage payment. But the fact is that many people with large amounts often worry about it more.

They may not stress over paying the house payment, but they often have investments that go south, money managers that prove untrustworthy and other problems. If they have enough of it, they can have security, publicity and sometimes legal problems. Sure, we’d all like to have those problems rather than our own – until we get them.

The bottom line is that money issues are often stressful for just about everyone. But this is not inevitable. Many people, perhaps more in the past than the present, led very happy lives with almost next to nothing in the bank. And even most of the very poor today in the U.S. live infinitely better than kings of 300 years ago.

One needn’t go so far as to say ‘everything is relative’, but a sense of perspective is helpful.

Stress over money issues is no more inevitable than is stress over any other fact. Being concerned and being stressed are not the same thing. Stress results when a person believes there is no way out of a dilemma they simply ‘must’ solve. But neither side of that dilemma is cast in stone.

Certainly, life often presents alternatives that are unpleasant. One need not accept passive stoicism as the only option, though. The will to struggle can be helpful in a number of ways.

Both mental and physical struggle help work off the natural hormones that are released in stressful times. The effort put forth also helps psychologically, since passivity is an essential component of depression (a common result of chronic stress). And, of course, during the attempt to overcome a hurdle one often gains the knowledge needed to actually overcome it. The pride that results provides one more bulwark against future episodes of stress.

Those general comments apply to stress over money as much or more than any other issue. Millions get into situations of excessive debt every year. Credit cards and other temptations of ‘easy money’ are ubiquitous in today’s society. But millions get out of debt, too.

Family arguments over money are one of the most common causes of stress. When two people disagree over how to spend limited funds, conflict is inevitable. But, that conflict need not lead to stress. Realism, long-term planning, a willingness to compromise and respect for another’s point of view can go a long way toward minimizing stress.

Sometimes it helps simply to put aside a certain percentage of the income for ‘anything in the world you want to happen today’. Indulging the occasional whim, and realizing it rarely leads to huge loss, can help relieve the pressure.

Once you have enough money to ensure basic survival, which all but a small percentage do, the rest is optional. No need to stress over that.

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