We all know that choppy financial waters can lead to some serious money troubles, like the inability to pay monthly bills, a lower credit score or even home foreclosure. But financial issues can not only affect your bottom line. They may also lead to serious health issues, including chronic stress.

If you’ve ever felt stressed about your finances, you’re not alone. In fact, 64 percent of Americans report that money is a significant source of stress in their life, according to the Stress in America 2020 survey published by the American Psychological Association (APA). Even among those adults who are employed, more than half say that job stability is a source of stress. Many of us are stressed about money, and it’s not only hurting our wallets.    

How stress harms the mind and body
According to the APA, chronic, everyday stress may lead to a number of mental and physical health issues.

It contributes to depression or anxiety. Although depression can have many possible causes, the inability to cope with chronic stress can increase your risk. Runaway stress can also negatively impact your relationships with your partner, family and friends.

If you’re experiencing feelings of sadness, anger or hopelessness, changes in your sleep or eating habits, loss of pleasure in activities you once enjoyed or thoughts of self-harm or suicide, it’s important to get help ASAP. Talk with a therapist or trusted family member or friend. Depression can be overwhelming and even scary, but you don’t have to go it alone.  

It can harm the cardiovascular system. Sustained, elevated blood pressure and constant surges of the body’s stress hormones can take a serious toll on your heart and blood vessels, making you more susceptible to high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.

It can cause gastrointestinal issues, like diarrhea or constipation. Constant stress can trigger irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and can affect how your body digests and absorbs nutrients.

It may affect the reproductive systems in both men and women. Men can experience decreases in testosterone and sperm production and may even develop erectile dysfunction as a result of unchecked stress. Women may experience changes in menstruation, severe PMS symptoms and decreased libido.

The good news is that are steps you can take to get your finances in check and get your financial stress under control in the process.

Boost your finances to boost your health
Effectively managing your money won’t just set you up for a more comfortable financial future—it’ll help you take control of your stress, too. Not sure where to begin? Try developing some smart money habits.

Create a budget—and stick to it. Taking a closer look at your income versus your expenses every month can help you identify good and bad spending habits. You’ll also discover new opportunities to save and thwart unnecessary spending. The best part? You can choose a strategy that works with your budget and lifestyle, like working with a financial advisor, keeping a highly detailed spending journal or downloading a free budgeting app.

The most important thing is to choose a technique that fits your needs and your lifestyle. If tracking your budget becomes a hassle, it will be harder to dedicate the time to actually doing it.

Make saving easier. When you’re planning your budget, be sure to include a monthly savings goal. Then, set up automatic transfers from your checking to your savings account. Building savings into your budget—and setting up automatic transfers—will make it feel like a regular monthly expense.

Plan for your future. When the time comes, will you be ready to retire? If you don’t already have one, consider opening a Roth IRA or 401(k). It’ll help set you up for a solid retirement and boost your peace of mind.

If you’re feeling stressed about your finances, it’s important to find the tools and resources that can help you spend less, save more and feel good about your financial future.