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Updated: Fri, 14 Dec 2012 10:00:00 GMT | By Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Fight stress caused by money

Here are some suggestions to get your finances back on track.


"That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.” -Henry David Thoreau

Like getting a good night sleep? Yet a lot of people are tossing and turning because they're worried about the economy and their financial stability.

I was contacted recently by a journalist who asked me, "What about money keeps you up at night?" My response: Not a damn thing. I've got a big, fat emergency fund. I've got my i's dotted and my t's crossed. Not everyone can make the same claim.

According to the Canadian Medical Association's 2012 National Report on health, a third of Canadians say they feel stressed or overwhelmed as a result of financial concerns. And 22% say they're actually sleeping less because of that stress.

You probably wouldn't be surprised to find out that people carrying high levels of debt get more headaches, suffer more muscle tension and ulcers and have more heart attacks. It seems the pleasure derived from the lattes, sexy shoes and vacations isn't enough to offset the physical drain on our bodies as we worry how we're going to pay for it all.

What to do, what to do? Here are some suggestions to get back to sleeping like a baby:

Tell someone. If you're overwhelmed, maybe it's time to tell someone. Whether it's your best friend or a sibling, fessing up can be the first step to making the changes you need so you can get a good night sleep.

Make a plan . The problems aren't just going to disappear. You've got to put a plan in place. And that plan has to have manageable steps you can actually accomplish. No point in saying, "I'm going to get this $5,000 credit card balance gone by next Tuesday." Unless you're planning a bank robbery or patricide, it likely isn't going to happen. But you can say, "I'm going to find an extra job, earn $200 extra every week, and get that debt gone in six months." That's doable.

Stop spending money. Did you know you're more likely to make bad financial decisions when you're stressed out? Witness all the stress-shoppers. Then there are the gamblers who think they're going to fix their messes with a flutter of the cards. Or how about the folks who drink away their sorrow, only to wake up more sorrowful the next day? If you put your money away-limit your access to cash, freeze your credit cards, leave your debt card at home-you're less likely to do something dumb that'll make the situation even worse.

While the economy is out of your control, you can still breathe easy-and get a solid night's sleep-if you've take steps to make your personal economy healthy. Or you can keep on tossing and turning. It's your choice.

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