We love exploring the relationship between finances and health. Troves of research and surveys show how improving a financial issue can also improve your well-being. It’s empowering to know that having control over our money can boost our relationships, or that growing a savings account may help you avoid stress-related health problems.
Let good health inspire your next money move by realizing the power you have to make choices that can transform your mind, body, and bank account simultaneously. Here are four research-backed examples of ways improving your finances can also improve your health.
1. Tackling debt can lead to better sleep and fewer headaches
We’ve all experienced the effects of not enough good sleep. Young adults, especially, need more sleep to stay healthy,1 but those with high levels of student debt report difficulty getting shut-eye—not to mention, dealing with more anxiety and other physical problems.2 In one health survey, millions of Americans reported stress about high debt as the cause of reduced physical health, relating it to symptoms such as digestive tract issues and headaches.3
Read more: 3 steps to help you ease debt stress
By facing looming debt head-on, you can help your body de-stress, head to toe. Chip away at existing loan balances by starting with accounts under $1,000 and come up with a debt payoff strategy. Accelerate debt reduction by making extra payments to the top debts on your list. Be smarter about borrowing and work to improve your credit score so you can obtain favorable rates in the future. Doing so could improve your quality of sleep and overall physical health, in addition to the many financial benefits.
2. Increasing financial literacy can help protect cognitive function
Mutual funds, compound interest, APR—do you know these financial concepts? Learning new financial terms enhances your financial literacy, which might help protect your mind from cognitive decline as you age. Research found that confidence in financial literacy doesn’t just affect your financial health—it’s associated with a decreased risk of dementia and slower decline in cognition.4
3. Building emergency savings can lead to lower blood sugar
According to research, feeling financially stressed may make us more likely to indulge in unhealthy coping mechanisms like binge eating.5 Overindulging can spike blood sugar levels, which instantly takes a toll on the body.6 Finding ways to prepare for financial stressors can help prevent us from adopting those coping mechanisms. Build an emergency savings fund to increase feelings of security and control over your future. With a sense of financial preparedness, you’re less likely to turn to unhealthy comforts that might not be great for your body or your budget, because you’ll be ready to take on whatever may come your way.
4. Giving back can support heart health
In one study, the more money people spent on others, the lower their blood pressure was.7 If you don’t have the extra change to be charitable right now, consider sharing your time, talents, and other resources like clothing or food to connect with others and help make your community stronger.
Read more: Giving is good for you—but it needs a budget
Taking care of your finances and gaining control where you can not only protects your money— but also your long-term health. This week, commit to trying one or more of these ways to improve your health and wealth simultaneously.