A recent Gallup poll found that only 25% of people who graduated with over $50,000 in student debt report being in good health. The correlation between scary finances and poor health is fairly easy to to map out. Debt causes rampant stress. Rampant stress weakens your immune system. Amir Khan of U.S. News & World Report interviewed cardiologist Guy Mayeda about other ways stress affects your health:
“Stress produces a hormone called cortisol which over time can cause you to gain weight and weakens your immune system... Stress causes you to engage in bad behaviors more readily. For example, if someone smokes, they’re less likely to quit smoking when they’re under a lot of stress... People often seek out comfort food. Comfort food usually isn’t the healthiest, but people fall back on it when they’re stressed.”
Massive debt, at least indirectly, has the capacity to kill you. That's frightening to think about but there's no need to despair. There is hope.
Khan's article offers several strategies for fighting the health-degrading elements of stressful debt. Here's a basic summary:
1. Sleep well: It's incredible just how many people voluntarily handcuff themselves by refusing to sleep even when nothing's stopping them. A good night's sleep is crucial for reducing stress and overall healthy living. Stop watching those cat videos and grab some zzz's before dawn breaks.
2. Knowing is half the battle: Once you acknowledge your stress and map out its roots, you can take precautionary measures to avoid the bad habits indicative of an unhealthy lifestyle. These include binge-eating, dependence on fast food, failing to organize tasks, and becoming unsociable. Find coping methods to avoid these habits. Volunteer. Meditate. Prepare meals in advance. Relax.
3. Pay up: Financial stress is caused by a feeling that you don't have control of your life. Prove to yourself that you have control over your debt by developing a plan to pay it off. Draw these plans out and frame them in a way that makes sense. Determine what monthly payments you can afford and then keep making them. Digging yourself out of debt (and away from stress) is easier once you've quit digging yourself deeper into it.
Read more at U.S. News & World Report
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