If you find yourself regularly feeling anxious, you’re not alone. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in America, affecting 40 million adults — roughly 18% of the U.S. population — each year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. What you might not realize is how much this anxiety is costing you, both from an emotional and economical standpoint.
Whether your anxiety is caused by your finances, technology, social situations or something else, here’s how your anxiety is costing you — and how you can cope.
Many of us stress out about money from time to time, but some people suffer from full-on financial anxiety. A 2003 study defined financial anxiety as “a psychosocial syndrome whereby individuals have an uneasy and unhealthy attitude toward engaging with and administering their personal finances in an effective way.”
Financial Anxiety Warning Signs
Financial anxiety manifests itself in different ways for different people, but signs include:
- Constantly feeling the pressure that you should be earning more, spending more or hitting certain financial milestones
- Feeling panicked about spending money
- Having difficulty prioritizing what to do with your money
- Avoiding thinking about money
- Feeling guilty when you have money
- Feeling like you have to work all the time
- Keeping financial stressors from your partner
How Financial Anxiety Is Costing You
Financial anxiety can have real effects on your bottom line. If you feel pressure to reach certain financial milestones — such as buying a house or a luxury car — before you’re financially ready, this can saddle you with debt. If you have trouble making decisions around money or avoid thinking about money, you might be tempted to do nothing at all. This can leave you with a lack of emergency savings and prevent you from investing, which leads you to lose out on compounding interest.
How To Cope With Financial Anxiety
If you suffer from financial anxiety, there are steps you can take to cope. First, come up with a financial plan. If you feel like you need to earn more money, come up with a plan to do so, whether it’s by asking for a raise, seeking new job opportunities or starting a side gig. If you have financial milestones you want to reach, figure out how much money this goal will require and set aside money every other week or month to meet this goal over time. If you constantly worry that you’ll go broke if emergency strikes, start saving into an emergency fund.
Next, set up regular money check-ins. These check-ins can be with yourself to make sure you are meeting the goals you set, with a partner to make sure you are staying on the same financial page or with a financial planner or therapist, depending on your specific needs.
Americans spend nearly 50% of their day looking at electronic devices, a 2018 Nielsen report found. As time with tech has increased, so has the prevalence of mental health problems like anxiety, Thrive Global reported. There is an especially strong link between device use and anxiety in teens, Dr. Sarah Domoff, a clinical child psychologist, told the site.
“The research shows us that if you’re using your phone at night and you’re preoccupied with content on your phone, it can interfere with your ability to fall asleep, just like having distressing emotions can interfere with your ability to fall asleep,” she said. “Once you start interfering with sleep quantity and quality, we know that interferes with our cognitive functioning and our mental health.” Additionally, “if you’re seeing content that is anxiety-provoking, that content matters.”
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Technology-Induced Anxiety Warning Signs
You might not be aware of the effects your technology use is having on your mental state. Here are some signs that tech is causing you anxiety:
- You feel anxious when you can’t access your phone
- You can’t complete tasks because you are constantly distracted by your phone and other devices
- It’s hard for you to fall or stay asleep
- You don’t feel able to disconnect from work
- You experience intense fear of missing out or feelings of being “less than” from seeing what others are doing on social media
How Technology-Induced Anxiety Is Costing You
If you’re perpetually distracted by your phone and can’t seem to stop looking at it, this can hurt your performance at work. This can end up costing you in terms of pay if you are commission-based, or it can cost you your job if you continually underperform.
If you’re someone who is constantly comparing yourself to others based on social media, this can cause you to overspend to feel like you are “keeping up” with everyone else.
How To Cope With Technology-Induced Anxiety
Scaling back on your tech use is the best way to curb this type of anxiety. Set designated times of day to “unplug,” such as mealtimes or the hour before bed. Better yet, keep your phone out of your bedroom entirely. In some cases, it might be best to seek professional help.
Social anxiety disorder, or SAD, affects 15 million U.S. adults, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. The defining feature of this disorder is “intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated or rejected in a social or performance situation.” People with social anxiety often avoid social situations and feel distressed when these situations cannot be avoided.
Social Anxiety Warning Signs
Signs of social anxiety include:
- Worrying about appearing anxious in social or performance situations
- Worrying about being viewed as awkward, stupid or boring in social or performance situations
- Avoiding social or performance situations
- Having physical symptoms in social or performance situations that include rapid heart rate, nausea or sweating
How Social Anxiety Is Costing You
Social anxiety can wreak havoc on your career trajectory and earning potential. Individuals with social anxiety may decline job opportunities that would require them to regularly interact with new people. In extremes, social anxiety can prevent sufferers from completing school, performing well in job interviews or getting a job altogether.
How To Cope With Social Anxiety
One of the most effective ways to treat social anxiety is with cognitive behavioral therapy, according to Psychology Today. There are also some steps you can take on your own to help cope with the symptoms, according to HelpGuide.org:
- Identify and challenge the negative thoughts about yourself that arise in social situations
- Focus on others in a social situation rather than only reflecting inward
- Breathe in a slow and controlled manner
- Face your fears head-on; avoidance can make your anxiety worse over time
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Generalized anxiety disorder affects 6.8 million adults and is more common among women, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. People with generalized anxiety can have persistent and excessive worry about a number of things, including their family or work situations.
Generalized Anxiety Warning Signs
People with generalized anxiety find it difficult to control their worry. With generalized anxiety, the anxiety isn’t tied to one specific stressor or a limited period of time; someone with generalized anxiety finds it hard to control their worry on more days than not for at least six months and has at least three of the following symptoms, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America:
- Feeling nervous, irritable or on edge
- Feeling a sense of impending danger or doom
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing, sweating or trembling
- Feeling weak or tired
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Having difficulty sleeping
- Experiencing gastrointestinal problems
How Generalized Anxiety Is Costing You
As with other types of anxiety, generalized anxiety can hurt your earning potential. People with more severe cases of generalized anxiety disorder might have difficulty carrying out daily tasks, which can inhibit their work performance. They might also avoid job promotions because of the worry the new role would elicit.
How To Cope With Generalized Anxiety
Generalized anxiety can be treated with therapy and/or medication, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Alternative treatments include learning relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga and other forms of exercise.
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This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek out the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with questions you may have regarding any medical condition, including your mental health. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
About the Author
Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert.