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ARTICLE Dollars and sense: To manage your finances, manage your health

Dollars and sense: To manage your finances, manage your health

Worried about money? You aren't alone: Over 75 percent of Americans said money woes are a major source of stress, according to a recent survey.

But, recessions can hit some harder than others. In 2010, nearly twice as many African Americans ages 45 and older lost their jobs compared with the general population, according to AARP.

Financial stress, like everyday stress, can wreck havoc on your life. It strains relationships. And, it can lead to unhealthy choices, such as smoking, drinking and eating too much. It can cause ailments such as anxiety, headaches and lost energy. And, these problems can be costly - draining you, your loved ones and your bank account.

Fight the mental drain of fiscal strains

If you find yourself feeling financially stressed, free up some assets with these keys to success:

1. Look objectively at your situation. Yes, this is hard. But, ignoring problems won't make them go away. For example, if you need help paying a bill, contact the company you owe to workout a payment schedule.

2. Commit to a plan. Write down ways to trim expenses, and review them from time to time. You might try car pooling, giving up some extras, or cooking dinner at home instead of eating out.

3. Search for ways to improve your financial outlook. This might include polishing your work skills or adding a part-time job. Hard times can offer chances to grow.

4. Ask for help or advice from trusted sources. These can be friends, family, your church or organizations in your community. A credit-counseling service may also help.

Take steps to reduce overall stress

In tough times, pause but don't panic. To help reduce stress and boost your ability to get through a crisis:

  • Exercise. Thirty minutes a day can improve mood and health. And, exercising doesn't have to cost money: Walking or jumping rope works. You should consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.
  • Make healthy choices every day. These include getting enough sleep, keeping up social contacts and eating healthful foods.
  • Stay focused. Pick one urgent task and work on it. When it's done, move to the next priority.
  • Share your feelings. Don't try to cope alone. Reach out to family and friends. Use your employee assistance program, if available. Or, ask a spiritual adviser for guidance.

Remember, seeking help is not a sign of weakness. It's a sign that you're willing to work through tough times to be ready when better times prevail. Your willingness to handle these issues will help you stay on the track of a brighter financial future.

The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for your doctor's care. Please discuss with your doctor how the information provided is right for you.