Do you have inner debt demons? One in four of us do too.

By Hayley Hemmings

Does your financial situation leave you feeling worried or unsettled? If so, you’re not alone.

As many as 1 in 6 UK adults are facing money worries today. According to this report from the Guardian earlier in the year, it seems that a whopping 8.2 million adults – 16.1% of the UK’s population – are living with problem debt.

Drilling down even deeper into that figure, millennials are one of the groups of people most likely to be at greater risk of problem debt – that’s 1 in 4 young adults aged between 25 to 34 years old. Citizen’s Advice also recently revealed that unsecured debt is now growing faster than the growth of incomes, with 20-29 year olds being twice as likely as 30-39 year olds to have debts equivalent to six months’ or more of their income.

A really horrible side effect of problem debt is the amount of anxiety and stress that it can cause. Of course, it’s completely normal to feel worried or anxious when things are a bit tight financially or when you know you have a big bill to pay out for. But problem debt is another matter entirely as it can seriously take its toll on your mental health as well as on your pocket.

Thousands of people in the UK are affected by debt-related stress, according to the debt charity, StepChange. There are a few signs to look out for to help you determine whether your debt is getting out of control. Can you relate to any of these below?

4 Signs That Your Debt is Affecting Your Mental Health

- Feeling unsettled, physically sick or excessively worried about the amount of debt that you have or how you’re going to pay it back.

- Not being able to sleep at night because you can’t switch off worrying thoughts about debt.

- Losing the ability to concentrate at work because your debt situation is causing overwhelm.

- Possibly starting to withdraw from social groups because you’re worrying about your debt.

When managed carefully, credit can be a useful tool that can help you spread the cost of purchases over a certain amount of time and help you to build your credit score.

But if you continue to add to your debt load without making more than the minimum repayments, debt can soon become a financial burden. It can even end up becoming something of a vicious cycle where you find yourself continuing to borrow money to fund the lifestyle that you’ve always had.

Debt worries can start to weigh heavily on your mind, especially if you find yourself going through a financial emergency whilst still having to make debt repayments. It can most certainly trigger anxiety and stress, both potentially serious conditions that shouldn’t be ignored.

Your debt can make you feel pretty low and start to affect your self-esteem and how you feel about yourself. In some cases, severe debt worries can even lead to clinical depression.

How to Alleviate Debt Stress & Anxiety

If you find your debt situation is bothering you, now could be the time to take stock of your debt situation and how it’s currently impacting the state of your mental health as well as your finances.

There are a number of things you can do to help lessen any anxiety you’re experiencing because of your debt. If you are worried about a friend who may be struggling with their finances, you can read this article on how to give the best support and break down the taboo.

Face up to your debt situation

The very first step to take is to acknowledge how your debt is making you feel and why. Start by writing down exactly how much debt you have with different credit providers. Getting those numbers written down in black and white might seem a scary prospect, but you might actually feel better once you know.

As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Fear can be paralyzing and it can make problems seem much worse than they actually are. When it comes to debt, this saying certainly rings true.

Sometimes, not knowing just how much debt you’re in can be incredibly worrying. And when you do know, you can begin to put your mind at ease by trying to rectify the situation.

Begin to tackle your debt

If you think your debt might be getting out of control, starting to pay it off should help you to feel better about your situation again. This might not be easy, but there are ways to make extra money to help to pay off your debts. A good way to start is to sell some of the things you no longer need on eBay, Gumtree or in local Facebook groups.

You may also find that you’re able to tackle your debt more effectively when you stick to a budget and track your expenses. Monitoring your expenditure will help you to identify possible savings that you can use to overpay your debt. For example, you might find that you can switch to supermarket own-label products or take your lunch to work with you – these are both easy ways to save. To know more about tackling your debt, read this article.

Talk to someone

If you’re feeling low or stressed out because of your debt, you might find it helpful to talk to someone. This could be a friend, family member or a professional organisation.

There are a number of organisations in the UK that are set up to help people with their mental health and wellbeing – and their finances too if need be. Take a look at the following links for more information.

·       Anxiety UK – a national charity which works to support those living with anxiety.

·       Mental Health Foundation – provides information on mental health, anxiety and where to find support.

·       Money Saving Expert – Martin Lewis, MSE Founder & Chair, has put together an in-depth guide on Mental Health & Debt.

·       StepChange – a debt charity that provides free, confidential advice on getting out of debt.

Top Takeaway

It’s normal to experience money worries from time to time. We all do! But if you feel like your debt might be getting out of control and it’s starting to affect your mental health, it could be time to address it and make sure you’re positioned firmly back in the driving seat.

Have you felt worried or stressed about your debt before?


Author Bio: Hayley Hemmings is a freelance writer, blogger and tea addict from Yorkshire. She’s passionate about money matters, frugal living and loves anything handmade. When Hayley’s not writing, she’s most likely to be found enjoying snuggles with her little girl or walking her border collie through the beautiful Yorkshire countryside.  

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