What type of stress do you have, and how can money be a cause of it?

For some people, National Stress Awareness Month couldn’t have come sooner. After all, there’s arguably plenty to be stressed about right now, from Brexit to house prices, pensions, savings and even credit scores.

When it comes to money and stress, everyone deals with it differently. To help you identify how you may handle it, here are three common types of stress you might recognise and examples of how each might play out with your finances.

Acute stress

Acute stress is a term to describe the symptoms you may feel when you’re placed in a short-term stressful situation, such as starting a new job. This type of stress tends to come on suddenly as a reaction to certain events and one of the main symptoms is anxiety or a feeling of panic.

How you might encounter it when dealing with your finances: You may have experienced acute stress if you’ve ever received an unexpected one-off financial shock, such as a bill that’s higher than it should be, or when you’re going through big life changes, like buying a house or trying to pay for a wedding.

How acute stress affects behaviour: Research has suggested that acute stress actually stops us being impulsive and taking risks.[1] This can be a good thing when you’re managing your money, as it may make you more likely to weigh up the pros and cons of a situation and do your research to ensure you’re making the smartest choice.

Episodic acute stress

Episodic acute stress describes acute stress that is happening on a regular basis. In short, people with this type of stress always seem to be in a rush and they tend to have habits that encourage this type of stress, such as worrying too much or being too pessimistic. People with episodic acute stress can be anxious and irritable, with a shorter temper.

How you might encounter it when dealing with your finances: If you don’t have regular income or you struggle to stick to a budget, a lack of uncertainty about your financial security could cause you to stress out on a regular basis.

How episodic acute stress affects behaviour: Just like with acute stress, if you have episodic acute stress the most common behaviour is that you’re less likely to take risks. But episodic acute stress sufferers find it hard to change their stressful lifestyle, as their stress has become so regular that they’ve accepted stress as part of life. [2] Pessimism, which is a characteristic of many acute stress sufferers, could also prevent you from taking action to change your fortunes, as you may believe that nothing will improve your situation.

Chronic stress

Chronic stress is essentially what acute stress becomes if it isn’t taken care of. This stress is constant and doesn’t go away – not to be mistaken for episodic acute stress where there could be a break in-between stressful periods. Chronic stress is often linked with the development of serious diseases and health risks, such as heart and lung disease, cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, accidents and suicide. Studies have shown a strong link between insomnia and chronic stress[3]. Some of the symptoms of insomnia include increased errors, difficulty focusing on tasks, and poor memory.

How you might encounter it when dealing with your finances: If you have chronic stress you’re likely to be dealing with a problem that is constant, such as poverty or being stuck in long-term, unmanageable debt.

How episodic chronic stress affects behaviour: With chronic stress, the behaviour affects are likely to mimic those above but be amplified. What’s more, insomnia caused by chronic stress could result in memory loss, which may make you miss more repayments or lose track of your monthly outgoings. If you have debt to pay-off it’s always best to make sure you set up a direct debit that meets the minimum repayment.

There are lots of different ways to tackle stress and if you feel you need help and guidance you can contact Step Change who help over 500,000 people in the UK every year. To tackle financial stress, it helps to have a clear grasp of your money situation and have a plan to get you on track. You credit report and score play an important role in this, acting as a one stop shop for monitoring your credit. Be sure to check your free for life credit report regularly at noddle.co.uk to help you take control of your finances.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19207694

[2] http://www.healthline.com/health/whats-your-stress-type#Typesofstress3

[3] http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-chronic-stress.aspx