Stress related to debt

Stress related to debt

People who get into debt tend also to become stressed. They feel anxiety, they are absent-minded, often become angry, and have trouble with staying focused.

Moreover, stress has a destructive influence on their relations with family, friends, and colleagues. People in debt tend to limit their social life and isolate from other people. It's hardly surprising. When our finances are low, we do not feel like meeting friends. We have no money for cinema tickets or a cup of coffee in a café. Often, we are ashamed of our helplessness.

The most common reactions to stress when being in debt.

One of the most typical forms of fighting stress when in debt is to avoid any information of the debt itself. People in debt quite often have no idea how much they actually owe. They do not want to see the problem, so they avoid talking about it, even with their loved ones. Home budget becomes a ticklish subject, a taboo even. People in debt avoid opening mail from their creditors, i.e. banks and other financial institutions, e.g. collecting agencies. They do not answer phones and try to pretend that the problem does not exist. Yet, this is very short-sighted policy. In the long run, the consequences are quite obvious—the debts “swell” (getting larger by interest, the cost of service, the cost of enforcement proceedings, etc.) and the person in debt often misses the chance to find an amicable and “more subtle” solution to the problem, like going into a settlement and spreading the debt into instalments.

The other way of behaving in reaction to stress is to focus on emotions. Often catastrophic thinking or the other way round—wishful thinking—just makes the stress more intense, and in the long run it can lead to preserving it at a very high level. Particularly dangerous are automatic thoughts, e.g. “reliving” some situations from the past, feeling sorry for oneself or anxious looking ahead.

How to help yourself in no time?

If you are unable to change your financial situation, change the way you are thinking about it. Whenever life gets you down, physical effort or anything you like doing is a great vent for stress. This way it's easier to leave bad thought behind. You cannot give yourself in to dark thoughts and problems in a tough situation (not necessary financial one). They cannot dominate and cover all other aspects of life. We have a limited control over the situation bothering us, but over the way of thinking about it—ah, it's a completely different matter.

Check how you are thinking about your problems:

1. Is my thinking based on obvious facts? How others perceive my situation?

2. Is my way of thinking the best way to secure my health and life?

3. Is my way of thinking helping me to achieve closer and further aims?

4. Is my way of thinking a good protection from unnecessary conflicts?

5. Does my way of thinking make me feel better?


Nature gave us a lot of ways to deal with emotions, e.g. by crying, screaming or undertaking physical effort. And even though the latter form is definitely the best, it's not easy to convince people constantly brooding over their situation that they should take this effort. Someone in stress will not be willing to go for a walk, ride a bike or just did some tidying up. And all these activities could keep their thought from the problem. Thus the person in stress is able to forget about their problems and concentrate on subjects giving them relief. Moreover, by choosing activities we like, we stimulate the body to produce endorphins, hormones that act as a natural painkiller and help to relax. Even when we are in trouble (or maybe especially at such moments?) we should seek for happiness and everyday pleasures, despite the tendency to deprive ourselves of the right to do so.


The worst thing to do when you're in stress is to seek “shortcuts”, cure the symptoms, not the causes, e.g. by using different chemical substances just to feel better. Some people tend to use numerous drugs and dietary supplement, advertised everywhere as a remedy for stress symptoms. Even worse solution is a wide-known and long-established tradition of improving mood with alcohol or—in modern version—with drugs.

Concentrate on seeking solutions!

Remember to focus on looking for solutions to your problem, and not only on the problem itself. Looking at a thing from a distance helps to assess the nature and scale of the issue, as well as owns capabilities. Then, looking for help and support is much easier. The best way is to overcome panic and focus to analyse the situation. Yes, it does require you to find courage to fight inner resistance, fear, and shame, but at the same time it helps to concentrate the attention and energy on taking actions. You have to remember about assessing the scale of the problem, as well, estimating your own capabilities, and thinking of where to seek for help and support. The analysis of the situation (performed individually or with the help of the loved ones or professionals) is a good starting point to prepare the action plan. Even if the debt is going to stay with us for ample time, it is a lot healthier to undertake actions and make effort to look for solutions. So, do what you can to control the situation and gain control over your life, even if just partial.

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