If this past year has been rough on your finances, you’re not alone. The pandemic has pushed many people further into debt, causing credit scores to drop and stress levels to skyrocket. The end of the pandemic feels just around the corner, but lingering poor credit could continue to hurt your finances and take a toll on your overall well-being in the future.
Luckily, there are plenty of steps you can take to protect your mental and physical health while working through a financial crisis. Read on to learn how bad credit impacts your health and discover 5 self-care ideas for staying healthy during your financial reset.
How Bad Credit Impacts Your Health
Before you dive headfirst into working your way out of a financial slump, you should take time to understand how bad credit impacts your overall well-being. A low credit score can make financing a home or opening new credit difficult, and high-interest rates can put a further strain on your finances. It comes as no surprise that people faced with these setbacks can experience unhealthy amounts of stress
Stress can affect your mind and your body in multiple ways. If you’re dealing with bad credit, you should be on the lookout for the following mental and physical side effects.
Mental Side Effects:
Dealing with bad credit can take a huge toll on your mental health. It not only leaves you feeling emotionally drained, but also increases stress and can affect your self-esteem. Below are some of the most common mental side effects of bad credit:
- Higher Risk of Depression
- Increased Anxiety
- Low Self-Esteem
- Feelings of Shame and Guilt
Physical Side Effects:
The stress that often comes along with bad credit can impact your physical well-being over time. If you notice your mental health declining, you should also be on the lookout for the following physical effects of financial stress.
- Increased Fatigue
- Low Productivity
- Inability to Focus
- Strained Relationships
If you found yourself relating to any side effects in this list, it might be time to reclaim control over your health and finances. Fortunately, there are plenty of strategies out there to help you get your credit back on track and improve your well-being.
5 Self-Care Tips to Improve Your Well-Being
On a brighter note, engaging in daily self-care can do wonders for your mental and physical well-being. While self-care habits might not directly impact your finances, they can help improve your mindset and leave you better equipped to take on daily challenges.
1. Get on a Regular Sleep Schedule:
If stress is keeping you up at night, you might need to rethink your sleep schedule. Getting a good night’s sleep can boost your energy levels and help fend off fatigue, and it can do wonders for your overall health.
If you can, consider going to bed at the same time each night. This will prevent you from staying up all night and make it easier to wind down when it’s time to get some rest.
That said, it isn’t always easy to go to sleep at a set time, especially when stress is keeping you awake. If you need help winding down before bed, try turning off your phone or other electronic devices at least an hour before you go to sleep.
The screen’s brightness can make it hard to sleep, and scrolling through your social feeds can sometimes cause even more stress.
Instead, try reading a book or listening to music before bed. You can even tune into a relaxing podcast while you wind down if reading isn’t your thing. Whatever you choose, just be sure to give yourself time to relax and unplug.
2. Start an Exercise Routine:
When you’re in a financial slump, staying active is probably not at the top of your list of priorities. However, getting into a regular exercise routine can improve your overall health and relieve stress, leaving you with more energy to face daily tasks.
Exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. If you have a busy schedule, try going for a short walk whenever you have a few minutes. You can also try squeezing in some desk exercises between meetings if you work in an office.
Whether you are new to working out or just need to get back into it, getting active a few times a week can positively impact your physical and mental health.
3. Practice Mindfulness:
When you’re struggling financially, it can be hard to keep your mind focused on the present. If you frequently find yourself worrying about your finances, mindfulness exercises could help ease your anxiety and refocus your attention.
Mindfulness refers to the ability to become fully aware of what is happening around you in the present moment. People typically use meditation to achieve this, but there are plenty of easy mindfulness practices out there that only take a few minutes to do. Here are some of our favorites:
- Download a mindfulness app: Mindfulness apps like Insight Timer and Headspace offer quick guided meditations to help you refocus throughout the day.
- Start a journal: Writing your thoughts down in a journal can make it easier to understand and work through them. When you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, try jotting down your thoughts or sketching a picture that represents your feelings.
- Recite mindfulness mantras: Repeating mindfulness mantras out loud or in your head can help to refocus your attention and improve your mood. You can write a list of your favorite mantras or post them around your space whenever you need a reminder.
- Try mindful reading: Sitting down with a book or magazine is a great opportunity to practice mindfulness. Simply choose a book that you’re interested in and focus all of your attention on active reading. It’s best if you choose something that engages your mind but doesn’t take up too much mental energy.
4. Talk to Someone you Trust:
Having a strong support system is key when you’re going through a rough patch. If you have friends or family you feel comfortable with, consider reaching out to them for support.
They might not be able to help solve your financial problem, but they can offer their support and help take your mind off of things when you’re feeling overly stressed.
If you are looking for a more professional approach, consider meeting with a therapist or counselor. A therapist can help you find strategies to manage stress and uncertainty, and you can talk to them about your concerns without fear of judgment.
If you need help finding an affordable counseling service, try consulting with your insurance provider to see which services are covered. You can also search for sliding scale therapists using directories like Psychology Today or the Open Path Psychotherapy Collective.
5. Remind Yourself What You’re Grateful For:
Focusing on gratitude can be difficult when you’re struggling financially. However, taking just a few seconds each day to think of something in your life that you’re thankful for can help improve your mood and your outlook on the day.
Practicing gratitude doesn’t mean that you have to discount or minimize your struggles. It simply allows you to intentionally shift your focus to something positive when you’re feeling down.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, try jotting down a few things you’re grateful for in a notebook or journal.
It can be something as simple as the sun shining or seeing a cute dog on your way to work. Over time, your list will turn into a collection of positive thoughts that you can reflect back on later.
How To Improve Your Credit
Engaging in self-care is essential when you’re struggling with bad credit, but you might be wondering what you can do to get out of a financial slump altogether. We’ve got you covered there too! Improving your credit doesn’t happen overnight, but committing to the following steps can help you get your finances back on track.
Education is key when it comes to sorting out your finances. Becoming financially literate can feel like an overwhelming task, but it doesn’t have to happen overnight. Even small steps like requesting your free credit report and learning what impacts your credit score can help get you back on track.
You can request your free credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies – Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian – once every 12 months. While these reports won’t include your credit score, they can show you any negative information and reveal which accounts you should focus more attention on.
Keep Your Credit Card Balance Low:
Your credit card balance and revolving utilization have a big impact on your credit score. Revolving utilization refers to how much of your credit limit you are using at any given time. It typically applies to credit card accounts, but you can check your credit report to identify any other revolving accounts that factor in.
Keeping your balance low each month will ensure that your credit utilization stays within an acceptable range. If you have credit cards that are almost maxed out, you should focus your efforts on paying those off first. As you pay off more of your credit card debt, you’ll notice your credit score slowly begin to climb each month.
Work Towards Paying off Debt:
Outstanding debt is one of the biggest contributors to a low credit score. Building interest can make paying off debt difficult, and it can feel like a losing battle if your interest rate is high. However, making regular payments – and paying more than the minimum monthly payment – can greatly improve your credit score over time.
If you have multiple credit accounts with high-interest rates, you might be able to consolidate them into one account with a lower interest rate. Credit counseling organizations can help you start the process and decide if this method is best for you.
Speak to a Financial Advisor:
Dealing with debt or other financial issues can quickly become overwhelming. To lessen some of the burden on yourself, consider seeking help from a financial advisor or credit counselor. Credit counseling agencies can help you create a plan to rebuild your credit, and their advisors are knowledgeable about creditors and your legal rights.
Some debt counselors even offer free or discounted services for people who are struggling financially. If you need help finding a counselor, nfcc.org can connect you with a reputable agency that won’t mislead or overcharge you.
Poor credit can have devastating effects on your health and your finances, but it doesn’t have to be that way forever. Taking active steps to improve your credit and focus on your well-being can help you get out of a financial slump in no time.
If bad credit has left you feeling overwhelmed, check out the infographic below to learn more about the importance of self-care when you’re dealing with financial stress. You must learn to stay positive in your difficult times also.