What does it mean when someone is described as a “picture of health”? Is it just focused on the physical? Does it also include mental and financial wellness?
Financial wellness and health are two things that are typically seen as mutually exclusive. However, there is a lot of evidence that shows a direct correlation between the two.
AskTheScientists.com says holistic health and wellness is based on 8 pillars:
These pillars all work together to create optimal individual wellness. In addition, each of these pillars contributes to your mind, body, and soul, which they mean when they say “a picture of health.” We’ll focus on three of these elements for this article: physical, emotional, and financial.
While many may not consider wealth a health concern, we at BrightUp want to change that narrative. Because everyone deserves to be financially healthy and holistically wealthy. Having healthy finances can improve one’s mental and physical well-being.
Inversely, being in trouble financially can also lead to severe physical and mental health issues.
This article will explore the link between your finances and overall health and ways to improve both!
Wealth is Health
We all know that health is wealth, but the inverse is also true. It’s not surprising, then, that financial health comes alongside physical health, mental health, and wellness in conversation.
Each year, the American Psychological Association (APA) runs a campaign called “Stress in America,” which focuses on stress levels among the general public and the impact on the population. In 2014, this campaign focused entirely on health, stress, and finances.
The key takeaways were striking. 32% of adults said that their finances or lack of money prevented them from living a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, 12% of Americans admitted skipping a doctor visit when they needed health care because of financial concerns.
These stats only scratch the surface of how finances and health are intertwined. So let’s take a deeper diver to illustrate how each can hurt or help the other.
How Health Can Impact Wealth
Most of us would agree that our physical health is essential. It reduces sickness and disease, helps us feel energized, maintains a healthy weight, and makes getting through the day easier. But did you know the impact physical health can have on your financial health too?
Rutgers Cooperative Extension provides an excellent explanation of how. They describe physical capital as “a person’s ability to earn a living wage and make investments.” They discuss how people who practice recommended health behaviors tend to feel more energized and focused at their jobs.
This results in a more successful career and opportunities to grow wealth.
In addition to physical health, mental health can also directly correlate to your financial wellness. The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute describes the vicious cycle of how mental health and money problems feed off each other.
According to their research, 46% of people in problem debt also have a mental health problem. Similarly, 72% of survey respondents claim their mental health problems have worsened their financial situation.
How being physically and mentally healthy can support your wealth:
- Fewer doctor visits translate to fewer medical bills
- Being fit can make you more productive at work, giving you more earning power
- Lower levels of stress mean you can make better decisions
- Ability to maintain steady income by keeping a job
The correlation between financial stability and health is relevant at every level of the income ladder. Keep reading to learn how wealth can also impact your health!
How Wealth Can Impact Health
We’ve made it clear how being healthy can lead to fewer financial challenges. But how does a better financial status positively impact your health? Let’s discuss.
Having wealth makes individuals more able to take care of themselves. In addition, having expendable income means you can afford to buy higher-quality foods, invest in a gym membership, afford preventative medicine, and more.
The Urban Institute and Center on Society and Health published a study in 2015 centered around the link between wealth and health. The study demonstrated that Americans at lower income levels are less healthy than those with higher income levels.
The study shares that people with lower income:
- Have a higher risk of disease
- Live shorter lives
- Are less able to afford health care services and insurance
CDC data shows that low-income American adults have higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other chronic disorders than wealthier Americans. That’s because financially challenged individuals are more likely to participate in risky, unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking cigarettes or overeating, to relieve stress. This is one reason lower-income populations have lower life expectancies.
The other reason is that they cannot save enough money to support themselves in retirement. Without the ability to pay for critical medical care, they’re less likely to survive these diseases.
While it may feel like your health is suffering due to lower-income levels, there is evidence that proper financial support can still produce positive outcomes. For example, one study demonstrates that cancer patients who received financial counseling felt more equipped to manage the cost of their care. Therefore, many had better treatment outcomes.
How to Boost Financial Health and Wellness
BrightUp is an emotionally intelligent financial wellness benefits provider dedicated to democratizing financial wealth-building and personal well-being. We do this by helping workers, and their loved ones meet their personal finance goals, grow their net-worth, and improve their self-worth. This means there’s no better resource to teach you how to boost your financial health and wellness than us!
Since we’re focusing on the connections between health and finances, we’ll share advice to help you navigate financial challenges centered around your health.
Financial Tips to Improve Your Health
Health Problem: You can’t afford health insurance.
Solution: Consider alternatives you can afford.
Almost 28 million people in the United States don’t have health insurance. For some, it can feel like a luxury. However, making sure you have affordable access to health care can significantly impact your physical health and your finances.
Here are some options to consider:
- Apply for Medicaid
- Consider short-term health insurance
- Choose a high-deductible plan with lower premiums
- Find a free clinic
- Open a health savings account
We cannot stress enough the importance of making sure you receive proper medical care when you need it. By exploring alternative ways to pay for your healthcare, you’ll be able to avoid a massive medical bill that will send you into unmanageable debt.
Health Problem: You have too many medical bills.
Solution: Get a debt consolidation loan.
Medical emergencies don’t care whether you have health insurance or not. If you had a medical emergency that resulted in a bill that exceeds your ability to pay, don’t panic. Some healthcare facilities may offer payment plans or provide an income-driven hardship plan.
Suppose you don’t qualify for either of those. In that case, a debt consolidation loan is a great way to avoid being reported to the credit bureaus for missed payments, AND provides you with a mechanism to pay off your expenses at a low-interest rate. Bonus points if you can resolve other forms of debt simultaneously!
Learn more about BrightUp’s compassionate capital debt consolidation loan, which leverages an alternative underwriting algorithm to expand access to affordable rates!
Health Problem: You want to lose weight, but can’t afford a gym membership.
Solution: Explore free fitness options or adjust your budget.
Staying active and maintaining a healthy weight is crucial to maintaining your overall health. However, that can get expensive! According to RunRepeat, the average gym membership costs $37.71, with some gyms costing up to $80 a month.
While that may not seem like much to some people, many lower-income workers struggle to have enough room in their budget to cover the cost.
In this case, you have two options: explore free fitness options or adjust your budget. The good news is that fitness can take place anywhere – even in your living room! Plenty of fitness instructors provide various types of free fitness classes on YouTube.
Some don’t even require an investment in equipment. Even taking a few extra minutes per day to take a walk can improve your overall fitness (did we mention the positive impacts on mental health?)
Alternatively, you can also revisit your budget to see if you can make room to cover the expense. Then, with the help of financial planning tools like the BrightUp app, analyze your current spending and identify opportunities to adjust your budget.
Don’t Forget Your Mental Health
Many Americans are not prepared to deal with financial stress, which can cause mental health problems and other issues. Poor money management skills are often a symptom of the underlying issue, the inability to handle financial stress. Here is some advice on protecting and improving your mental health when financially stressed.
Health Problem: Your financial stress is becoming too overwhelming to tackle.
Solution: Explore financial coaching options.
If you feel overwhelmed by bills, debt, and all the stresses of your daily life, you may want to consider financial coaching. This form of assistance differs from other financial assistance services because it works holistically with your finances. The goal is to help you discover what’s holding you back, and help you get back on track.
A BrightUp financial coach will work with you to help you unlearn bad habits and understand where they originate. Getting to the root of your financial struggles is a great way to release yourself from the mentally damaging guilt and shame that comes with it.
Employees who have access to BrightUp can leverage in-the-moment text-based support on financial topics, access phone-based financial coaches, and receive comprehensive annual/quarterly reviews from a Certified Financial Advisor.
With the help of a financial coach, you can create a budget that considers all areas of your life, set goals that motivate you, and learn financial discipline that will help you stay on track.
Health Problem: Your financial stress has caused symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Solution: Practice financial self-care.
Self-care isn’t just about relaxing and enjoying life. It can help you handle the pressures of living in today’s financial climate.
If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, consider combining mental health and mindfulness techniques. They may help relieve anxiety and depression with practical exercises and advice on organizing your finances.
If you’re feeling skeptical, we get it. After all, when you’re already working overtime, caring for your kids, and squeezing in a few minutes to relax, how can you add mindfulness to your schedule? It’s possible, we promise!
Here are some techniques to try:
- Breathing Exercises: Deep breathing is a great way to lower stress levels in your body. When you take in a large amount of oxygen, your brain will become calmer and let the rest of your body know it can slow down. Try one of the techniques recommended by the University of Michigan Health Department.
- Mindfulness: When you’re feeling anxious or depressed, instead of trying to push your thoughts out of your brain, take a few quiet moments to sit with them. Observe them, then let them go. Remind yourself that you are still safe where you are at that moment.
- Affirmations: Financial affirmations are short, positive statements you can tell yourself to shift your thinking from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset. Some people call these “money mantras.” These statements empower you to feel more confident about your finances, helping reduce stress when faced with a financial challenge. Possible Finance shares some examples.
The best part of these financial self-care practices is that they are free and can be practiced anywhere – even if you only have a few spare minutes. Did we mention our BrightUp app can help? We pair our advanced financial planning tools with uplifting messaging that can help you reframe your money mindset and treat yourself with more kindness.
Financial stress is too costly to ignore. Understanding how to protect and improve your mental health during difficult financial situations can help you manage these issues.
Mental health is about finding a balance between coping with the everyday stresses of life and making the most of your opportunities, abilities, and resources. It’s essential to care for your mental health, just as you care for your physical health.
Find a Brighter Path With BrightUp
At the end of the day, you are your biggest advocate. However, it’s important to surround yourself with people and resources who are rooting for you too.
More and more companies are beginning to realize their responsibility to provide more financial support for their employees. That’s where we come in.
We’re helping organizations across the country launch financial wellness programs centered around financial education and coaching, paired with financial planning tools and compassionate capital. We want to help learn how to manage their money better AND build generational wealth!
If your company doesn’t already offer financial benefits, it’s time to speak up! Send them to GetBrightUp.com to discover for themselves the wonders of a well-rounded, wellness-forward financial benefits program.
Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by your finances, just remember: B-R-E-A-T-H-E! Your health depends on it!
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