The burden of debt can often lead to overwhelming stress and anxiety, influencing our well-being, productivity, and overall quality of life. If you’re currently struggling with the hopeless, sinking feeling of being thousands of dollars in debt with no end in sight, it’s time to proactively do something about it.
Debt in America: A Look at the Data
While it doesn’t change anything about your situation, you may find it somewhat comforting to know that you aren’t a unicorn. Household debt has become a staple calling card of every class in America. From those living below the poverty line to middle class college graduates to 7-figure earners, debt is the one thing that ties us all together.
“American household debt hit a record $16.9 trillion at the end of 2022, up $2.75 trillion since 2019, according to the Federal Reserve. If you had to write that check it would read $16,960,000,000,000,” Debt.org explains. “Americans owe $986 billion on credit cards, surpassing the pre-pandemic high of $927 billion. We owe $11.92 trillion on mortgages, $1.55 trillion on vehicle loans, and $1.60 trillion for student loans.”
Average debt by age is increasing at a significant rate. Those in the youngest demographic, 18 to 29-year-olds have an average of $12,871 in non-mortgage debt. That number increases to $26,532 for those in their 30s. It edges slightly up to $27,838 for people in their 40s, before dropping with each subsequent decade. Those 70 and older have the lowest debt per capita at an average of $9,827.
Debt, Stress, and Anxiety
When we feel burdened by debt, it has a direct impact on our psychology and, in some cases, can lead to extreme anxiety. This often results in sleeplessness, high blood pressure, and a persistent sense of unease.
Moreover, the cycle of worry can further exacerbate debt-induced stress and anxiety. The more we worry about our debt, the more it occupies our thoughts, making it challenging to focus on other aspects of our lives. This preoccupation with debt can lead to increased stress, difficulty concentrating, and a decline in overall mental well-being.
Debt-induced stress often manifests itself in feelings of self-blame, guilt, and shame. This can further contribute to isolation and negative emotions.
Recognizing the impact of debt on our mental health is an essential first step in addressing debt-induced stress and anxiety. By acknowledging the psychological factors at play, we can begin to implement strategies to help us manage and alleviate these feelings.
Tips for Reducing Debt-Induced Stress
Every situation is different, but here are several tactics you can use to lower your stress and anxiety as it relates to debt:
1. Get Organized With a Budget
Ask yourself a quick question: Why do I feel so overwhelmed by my debt?
Chances are, you’ll have your own set of answers. However, somewhere at the core of it all, you’re going to find a lack of control. And the best way to neutralize this aspect of the equation is by getting organized.
Getting organized starts with understanding exactly how much debt you have, who you owe, what the minimum payments are, what the interest rates are, payment dates, login and password details, etc. All of this information should be organized in one place.
Once you have your debts organized, you need a budget in place. This budget, also known as a spending plan, gives every single dollar that enters your household a job. Every expense should be accounted for and prioritized. This might not be fun, but it’s necessary.
2. Leverage Professional Guidance
There are resources out there to help you. If you aren’t using them, it’s a good idea to link arms with folks who can help. For example, did you know that there are attorneys who can help you get creditors off your back?
“Just because you owe a creditor something, doesn’t mean they have the right to reach out to you and harass you, day and night,” Rowdy G. Williams explains. “At some point, they cross a legal line. But unless you know what that line is, you might continue to be harassed for months or years before you do something about it.”
There are also professional credit counseling services and non-profit organizations that can help you get your finances in order. Utilize these!
3. Maintain Positive Health
Ultimately, focus on maintaining positive health. Do things that allow you to feel good about yourself. Exercise, eliminate alcohol and drug use, stay hydrated, and remove yourself from toxic social media platforms. Focus on yourself.
Find Freedom Amid Debt
It can take years – a lifetime even – to get totally out of debt. So while paying off the debt 100 percent might be the ideal outcome, we have to acknowledge the fact that living with debt may be a reality for the next several years.
By taking advantage of the tips and tactics highlighted above, you can proactively address stress and neutralize the anxious feelings you’re having. Don’t wait – now is the time to act!