Financial wellness is the “actionable steps one can take to elevate their financial health.” Financial health is “the dynamic relationship of one’s financial and economic resources as they are applied to or impact the state of physical, mental and social well-being.”

Financial stress is defined as “a condition that is the result of financial and/or economic events that create anxiety, worry, or a sense of scarcity, and is accompanied by a physiological stress response.”

Emerging research is linking financial stress to mental health. A 2014 study from Yale University explores the idea that some “mental health problems” are actually money problems. Researchers behind this study noted that debt has a strong negative impact on mental health and that if an individual’s financial problems were solved, other problems might be solved as well.

On a day-to-day basis, financial stress can have a negative impact on your money decisions. It can lead to extremes of overspending or underspending. Similar to food where one can emotionally eat or severely restrict their diet due to stress, the same effect occurs with money. An individual may find comfort in “retail therapy” — mindlessly spending on nonessential items — or find relief in restricting their spending to the point where they go without basic necessities, limiting their food intake to save money. However, in the long run, both extremes can be harmful.

How can you take back your power to reduce your financial stress, elevate your financial health, and feel good about your financial situation? One suggestion is to incorporate financial wellness into your life. Here are some steps you can take to create agency over your financial health.

Financual wellness steps you can take

If you work for an organization, the first place to start is to ask your people and culture team (sometimes known as human resources) about financial wellness benefits. These benefits can include the ability to access your wages or salary before your payday so you can pay for an unexpected expense. Some employers offer access to loans or grants for unexpected expenses that are beyond the coverage of earned wage access.

Negotiating credit card debt
This can be done through consolidation or simply asking to reduce your rate.

Practice money mindfulness
Money mindfulness is a practice of bringing awareness to financial decisions. Overspending and many forms of financial anxiety are a result of making unconscious money choices. To practice money mindfulness take three deep breaths before making any financial decision. Bringing awareness to your money choices will reduce spending that you later regret and help restore a sense of calm when faced with scary financial decisions that feel out of your control.

Have a money date
The money date is a weekly wellness practice by bring awareness to all financial decisions and take a pause to celebrate wins, no matter how big or small.