An Interesting take on stress and money... Salome Kraamwinkel
Michael Jonker - 05 April 2017
We live in a world where we have everything at our fingertips and we feel more empowered than ever before to manage all aspects of our lives, like our money. This would be the ideal outcome except that for a lot of us all these choices can become overwhelming. It is easy to take on more than we can reasonably manage and when a person becomes overwhelmed, they will likely end up feeling stressed.
How stress works
The cerebral cortex in the brain sounds the alarm whenever there is a form of perceived life threatening or stressful activity. Our fight of flight response kicks in and the body responds in order to get you out of danger. While you are in this state your body is flooded with chemicals like adrenaline and you become a slightly more powerful version of yourself so that you can run away or fight a bear. This is designed to be temporary, just to help you out. Our brains however do not know the difference between a real life or death danger or a perceived/imaginary danger. Seemingly unimportant events will trigger this response, like when you get a fright during a film and your pulse and breathing quicken.
Our bodies were however never built to cope with the constant underlying stress that many of us find ourselves experiencing. Being in this heightened state too often has negative effects on our bodies, as non-essential functions like digestion is switched off to conserve energy. This is why stress negatively affects the immune system.
Perspective and ability to see the solution
Neuro-science is coming ever closer to understanding how human cognition works and how it is affected by factors like stress.
In August 2013, Science published a landmark study concluding that poverty, itself, hurts our ability to make decisions about school, finances, and life, imposing a mental burden similar to losing 13 IQ points. We are learning that stress is debilitating and also greatly affects your ability to make reasonable, rational decisions. When you are under constant stress or feeling frazzled, you keep thinking about what is stressing you and your performance goes way down. Fundamentally your ability to get out of the situation that is stressing you, is hampered by the fact that you are stressed.
This can have far reaching and long term effects on your financial wellbeing If you are stressed about your personal finances, your ability to solve the source of your worry is hindered by the mere fact that you feel stressed. You stress when you feel like you are smaller than the demands on you, you believe you cannot cope but you may not be able to see a clear way out, you are trapped and overwhelmed and may end up repeating past mistakes or opting for expensive sort term solutions.
For the brain to think clearly, logically and creatively it needs to be focused and calm.
What to do
Realizing that you have limits can be very liberating. De-clutter your life, reduce demands, prioritize and let things go. Really give this a chance. Sometimes there are demands on us that we feel we cannot let go. Is this really true? Ask yourself why and what would happen if you let go or pass responsibly on to someone else? Realize that help is available and you need not do it all by yourself. An outside or professional person like a broker might very likely be able to see solutions you cannot.
Believe that it is possible to live a life free of constant underlying stress. You must buy into the idea that you can go about your life free from that underlying feeling of worry that so often can be a constant companion. You have up to now likely bought into the idea that stress is an inevitable part of living in the modern world, that stress is unavoidable and you must just get used to it, or perhaps you believe it is just temporary but when you start to look back you may realize that this is not actually the case.
Be kind to yourself. Acknowledge that you are doing your very best. Realize that your best does not always look the same. Your best today may seem less than your best yesterday, this is ok. It is still your best and it is good.
Article written by Salome Kraamwinkel
Ageless Grace Educator - ageless.salome(at)gmail.com