When You’re Stressed About Money, This Is What Happens to Your Body and Your Brain

I think a lot of us can say that we’ve felt this kind of stress before: stress about being broke or very close to it. But how does this stress affect us, physiologically speaking?

We all have a fight-or-flight response system in our bodies that developed when our ancestors were roaming the land trying to avoid the many threats that could literally kill them at any time. Stress hormones are released when we’re presented with what we interpret as these kinds of situations – times when we humans have to decide whether to stick it out and fight or to run for our lives.

Stressed

But there are fewer saber-tooth tigers these days, and your fight-or-flight reflex is much more likely to be triggered by social issues – including dealing with money problems. When it does happen, the fight-or-flight reaction is very hard on the body. It can tense up our muscles until they hurt and mess up how our immune systems work, leaving us more vulnerable to getting sick. It can also cause constant stomach aches and headaches.

Stress

Another bad side effect: you might make bad decisions, even though, deep down, you know better. Aimee Daramus, a clinic psychologist, said, “Under stress, blood flow and electrical activity are reduced in the frontal and prefrontal lobes and increased in the survival parts of the brain, such as the amygdala.”

Since the parts of the brain where blood flow is reduced influence impulse control and planning, your decision-making process might get thrown for a loop, causing you to do things you normally wouldn’t do. Basically, you start to feel the walls closing in, which pressures you to act in ways that actually hurt your situation.

Daramus added, “We act quickly and decisively, but not always as accurately as usual.”

Depressed

On top of that, frequent stress reactions – whether caused by money issues or not – may cause anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Chronic stress might even lead to long-term physical ailments such as heart disease and diabetes. Finally, the stress may lead you to take comfort where you can find it – and that can sometimes mean in alcohol and drugs, which may lead to substance abuse problems.

Money problems are hard – really hard – but try to take care of yourself.

Remember, your only real wealth is health.

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An Expert Says That Unmarried Women Without Kids Are the ‘Healthiest and Happiest Population Subgroup’

We all face a lot of pressures in our lives – pressures about marriage, kids, happiness, and what the perfect ingredients are to live a “perfect” life. Well, the older we all get, we know that there is no such thing as perfect,’ and we also know that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for someone else.

As a man, it seems to me that women have it much tougher than men when it comes to societal expectations (though I can only speak from my personal experience). A lot of people still think that women are supposed to settle down, get married, have children, and raise a family. That’s been the ‘traditional’ way for generations, but what if those pressures really aren’t pushing women toward happiness at the end of the day?

Woman pointing

A professor of behavioral science named Paul Dolan published a book in 2019 called Happy Ever After: Escaping the Myths of the Perfect Life in which he makes some very interesting claims. Dolan, who teaches at the London School of Economics, said something quite controversial: he claims that “married people are happier than other population subgroups,”  but only “when their spouse is in the room when they’re asked how happy they are. When the spouse is not present: f—ing miserable.”

Wow. That sure turns a lot of ‘common knowledge’ on its head, doesn’t it? On top of that, Dolan said that “the healthiest and happiest population subgroup are women who never married or had children.”

Dolan’s book and his claims are based on research that polled people who are married, single, divorced, separated, and widowed. Dolan also claims that men seem to get more out of marriage because many of them “calmed down” after getting married.

Dolan pointed out the different effects that marriage has on the sexes: For men, “you take less risks, you earn more money at work and you live a little longer. She, on the other hand, has to put up with that, and dies sooner than if she never married.”

Woman's portrait

Dolan also added this little nugget about his research and findings: “You see a single woman of 40, who has never had children — ‘Bless, that’s a shame, isn’t it? Maybe one day you’ll meet the right guy and that’ll change.’ No, maybe she’ll meet the wrong guy and that’ll change. Maybe she’ll meet a guy who makes her less happy and healthy, and die sooner.”

Yikes.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

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Staying at Home With Children Is More Stressful Than Going to Work

Parents who stay at home are often pretty misunderstood. While many people assume they sit around relaxing at home all day, the reality is it’s a 24-hour job that is exhausting. Between caregiving and household management, the work seemingly never ends. One new survey found that, for many people, staying at home is more stressful for parents than going to work.

The Aveeno Baby survey, conducted in the U.K., asked 1500 mothers and fathers about their experiences as working or stay-at-home parents.

The survey found that a significant percentage of parents (31%) feel that staying at home with the kids is more stressful than going to work, rather than the other way around.

Photo Credit: iStock

“Becoming a parent is an amazing experience, but we understand that entering this new chapter of life can also bring with it a great deal of stress and worry, so we wanted to discover more about what new parents experience in the first few years, what they wish they had known and how best we can support them,” Aveeno Baby skin expert Rebecca Bennett told The Sun.

“From what you put in your baby’s mouth to what you put on their skin, every small decision becomes much bigger and you worry you might not be making the right choice, or are being judged by others.”

Regardless of whether you work or stay at home, having a baby is HARD, the survey found. 39% of parents reported constant exhaustion while 55% believed that having a baby is hard work even with a strong support system.

In the age of social media, many parents also reported that parenting apps make it harder for them to feel like good parents due to the constant comparisons to others.

Photo Credit: iStock

The lesson? Never assume another parent has it easier than you!

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People Share the Secret Battles They Are Currently Fighting in Life

People say that everyone out there is fighting a secret battle. It could be health-related, it could be depression, sadness, rage, money troubles, love troubles, etc. The point is that everyone is dealing with something.

AskReddit users shared the private battles they are currently enduring.

Remember to be kind to everyone and help people out whenever you can. You never know what people are going through.

1. Terrible.

“My mother has weeks or months left… Doctors aren’t optimistic, but this is indeed my last holiday with her.”

2. Still haunted.

“My mom died unexpectedly in December of 2011.

I am haunted by all the ‘what ifs’, ‘should haves’, and ‘never agains’.”

3. Torn apart.

“Honestly….depression. Cancer has literally torn my family apart. I lost my biological father, my stepfather, 2 aunts and numerous cousins to it. My daughter doesn’t have it but she stays sick, a lot.”

4. Hang in there!

“Diagnosed with 2 different types of cancer this year. And surgery, radiation. Starting to recover and figuring out what life will be like from here on out as I turn 40 in 3 months.”

5. A dark abyss.

“Trying to continue life with my daughter gone. I miss her so much every day. I’m fighting the guilt that’s constantly eating me alive because I didn’t protect her. I should’ve been more watchful but I failed my sweet baby. Life is nothing but a dark abyss without her and I’m not sure I’ll ever see light again.”

6. Staying clean.

“Going through methadone treatment while my two brothers are still using drugs. I’m clean now but it’s still a tough battle, especially because we live together.

I appreciate all the support and kind words reddit peeps. I’m in the middle of tapering down already, 30 mg left, and if anyone is facing a similar struggle just know YOU CAN DO IT! You’re the master of your own destiny.”

7. My psychosis.

“Psychosis. I’m under immense pressure to try and seem normal, to laugh like I’m normal and react and talk and socialize like I’m normal. But it’s hard when I’m hearing and feeling things that aren’t real, or when I believe things that make other people get weirded out. I feel like I’m at constant war with my head and I want so hard to just seem well-adjusted, and to not be fucking annoying all the damn time.”

8. Looking for a job is demoralizing.

“Currently dealing with unemployment and trying to stay positive in the sea of rejection letters. Luckily, I have an interview coming up but that is stressing me out because I don’t what I’m going to do if that doesn’t go well.”

9. Still grieving.

“It’s been a while since my husband died and no one talks about him anymore, it’s as though he never existed but I still grieve for him every single day.”

10. Exhausted.

“I just wish I existed outside of my own fucking head. Attempts at reaching out met with indifference feels like contempt after so long. .

3 people I love have died in the last year. I feel so fucking alone.

Nobody is having an easy time and I can barely think of anything positive, and when I do and share it, indifference is what I’m met with.

It’s exhausting. I don’t want to do this anymore for no reason.”

11. Reality.

“I have a baby with serious health issues who will likely have disabilities.

There are a lot of other things along with that situation.

Sprinkle in my own anxiety disorder / depression… Struggling mightily with life right now.

I don’t see it getting better. This is my new reality.”

12. A shell of my former self.

“Depression, Anxiety, PTSD.

Car accident at 16 left me clinically dead and in a coma. Massive anxiety from that along with PTSD.

Last year I lost my S/O because of a drunk driver.

I have horrific nightmares about both incidents. I’m a shell of my former self.”

13. This is sad.

“I want to kill myself, but I’m the only person who gives a crap about and helps my disabled friend in another state who is routinely abused and taken advantage of.

I mean, I guess I also don’t want to hurt my parents, but they should have thought ahead before reproducing when they knew how fucked-up their heads were. But my friend never asked for a neurological disorder. She doesn’t deserve to suffer alone.”

14. He doesn’t need to know.

“My kid is dying. Incurable, fatal disease. My wife and I decided to tell no one, not even family, because at that point our little boy will find out, and why does he need to know? He just needs to be a little boy and enjoy the life he has.”

15. Heartbroken.

“The girl i thought i was gonna marry broke up with me. I’ve been going through a faith crisis which has always been huge for me. I just feel so broken and lonely…”

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A New Law in Wisconsin Punishes Parents in Bullying Cases

From cities to workplaces to schools and other educational institutions, leaders are looking for better ways to punish bullies. There are initiatives from the White House all the way down to small communities, but on a big scale, nothing really seems to be moving the needle.

So Shawano, Wisconsin, is trying something new – they’re going to make the parents of minor bullies culpable by law, and see if that makes a difference.

 

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The law applies to online and in-person bullying, and it includes a grace period after the first infraction is met with a warning. The idea is that once parents are aware of the situation, they should have an opportunity (a 90-day period) to deal with the situation themselves before further action is taken.

If the child does not improve after the 90 days and gets caught bullying again, the parents will be fined $366.

Another infraction results in a second fine of $681.

 

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Not chump change, especially for families who aren’t well-off to begin with.

Police are hoping that the new law can help them combat both bullying and cyberbullying in the area, says Police Chief Mark Kohl.

“We feel without getting the parent involved, just giving a ticket of fining someone out of this isn’t the answer. This isn’t generated toward the kids being kids, some playground banter. This is the person that is meticulously using social media or saying things that are vulgar in an attempt to hurt, discredit, and really demean a person.”

I’m waiting for follow-up statistics on how this ends up working before making any final judgements on the idea itself, but I applaud their out of the box thinking – and their attempt to get the parents involved in combatting an issue that typically starts at home.

What do you think?

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Wow! Playing Music Benefits Your Brain More Than Any Other Activity.

If you’re interested in strengthening your brain, playing a musical instrument is the best exercise you can do to improve brain function, make you happier and protect against dementia.

Learning to play an instrument actually changes brain structure and improves functioning better than any so-called brain games. Those who learn to play when they are young also have better long-term memory and brain development.

Photo Credit: Pexels

A study completed by researchers at the University of Montreal found musicians tend toward more mental alertness over those who don’t play.

Head researcher Simon Landry said,

The more we know about the impact of music on really basic sensory processes, the more we can apply musical training to individuals who might have slower reaction times. As people get older, for example, we know their reaction times get slower. So if we know that playing a musical instrument increases reaction times, then maybe playing an instrument will be helpful for them.

Previous to this study, Landry discovered musicians have faster auditory, tactile, and audio-tactile reaction times, and an altered statistical use of multisensory information.

Photo Credit: Pxhere

In other words, playing an instrument is a complex and emotional task requiring multiple senses, inputs and fine motor skills. This is what changes the brain and can also help musicians be successful in other fields, like business.

Scans of brains actually show physical differences between musicians and non-musicians. The huge bundle of nerves connecting the two sides of the brain, or the corpus callosum, is larger in the brains of musicians.

Learning an instrument at a young age leads to the biggest brain differences. Even if someone doesn’t dedicate the rest of their lives to an instrument, there are still drastic changes caused by even moderate or intermittent study. That’s because music instruction makes these changes in the brain more efficiently than any other activity (that we know of).

Photo Credit: Pxfuel

From strengthening speech processing to protecting against dementia, learning to play an instrument is like lifting weights for your brain. So forget the dumb brain games on your phone. Pick up guitar or find a piano teacher.

Your brain will thank you.

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This Is Why Time Feels Different During the Holidays

The holidays can be a blur of family reunions, gatherings, workplace end of the year dinners, food, and fun. Then, January 2nd comes along and makes us feel like the holidays slipped past us in a curious haze.

Why does this happen?

Well, holidays can change our perception of time. Part of this is because people tend to visit their families and stay in their childhood rooms. Reunions with high school and college friends make us feel farther from the past or make us look forward to the future.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Anthropologists and psychologists have also been working to answer the question of how different cultures interpret time. Their discoveries show us that time is actually a social construct.

In Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perceptionauthor Claudia Hammond writes,

“Time perception matters because it is the experience of time that roots us in our mental reality. Time is not only at the heart of the way we organize life, but the way we experience it.”

Photo Credit: Pexels

Time as we know it today, a 24-hour span divided into increments of 60 minutes with 60 seconds each, technically began as a way to help industries and trains. Soon, all industries used clocks to decide when you should get to work, catch a flight, and do other tasks.

Many people get time off during the holidays. This allows them to experience life without the constraints of a clock – which is totally different from almost every other part of their lives. So don’t worry if you feel that the holidays change your perception of time because you are definitely not alone.

What are your thoughts on time and how it seems to warp during the holidays? We want to know your thoughts!

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For Some, Public Speaking Is Literally Scarier Than Death—Here’s Why

Many people have a fear of public speaking, but some people definitely have it worse than others. For some, public speaking is literally scarier than death.

In surveys about human fears, public speaking is commonly ranked at the top of the list. In some cases, it’s ranked above dying.

According to Psychology Today, this is because humans evolved to be social animals. Our community-oriented lifestyle helped us survive threats by cooperating with others — helping each other survive, fending off predators together, keeping each other alert, and so on.

When you depend on other humans to survive, social isolation is basically a death sentence. Avoiding isolation is baked into our instincts.

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“Ostracism appears to occur in all social animals that have been observed in nature,” Kip Williams, professor of psychological sciences at Purdue, told Psychology Today. “To my knowledge, in the animal kingdom, ostracism is not only a form of social death, it also results in death. The animal is unable to protect itself against predators, cannot garner enough food, etc., and usually dies within a short period of time.”

That’s why public speaking is so terrifying — it carries the risk of social rejection, and our bodies react accordingly. Your fight-or-flight response is triggered, and then come the sweaty palms, racing heartbeat, and inability to speak.

Photo Credit: iStock

Overcoming stage fright is all about teaching your body that public speaking can’t actually kill you, which can only happen through experience. The more times you get through it without disaster, the less scary it will be.

So get out there!

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A Study Shows That Boomers Are Indeed More Sensitive Than Millennials

Older folks like to treat younger generations like they’re soft – as if they get their feelings hurt over small slights and aren’t tough enough to walk uphill both ways to school in the snow – but the data coming out of a very long, thorough psychological study says that’s not at all true.

Basically, millennials (and GenX and GenZ) have one more reason to roll their eyes the next time an older person calls them a snowflake.

The study, published in Psychology and Aging, investigated narcissistic behavior between generations using six data sets that followed almost 750 people born between 1923 and 1969. They found that the earlier in the 20th century someone was born, the more likely they were to display high levels of hypersensitivity.

Regardless of generation, the study also showed that people do tend to become less narcissistic as they age.

Lead author William Chopik released a statement saying,

“There’s a narrative in our culture that generations are getting more narcissistic, but no one has ever looked at it through generations or how it varies with age at the same time. One of the most surprising findings was that – also contrary to what many people think – individuals who were born earlier in the century started off with higher levels of hyper-sensitivity, or the type of narcissism where people are full of themselves, as well as willfulness, which is the tendency to impose opinions on others.”

In sum: there’s little to no evidence that the younger generations are “weaker” or less hardy than any that came before them.

Levels of narcissism remain relatively stable across a person’s lifespan, though some aspects do wane with age: things like being full of yourself and trying to make others live according to your opinions.

On the other hand, having high aspirations for yourself increase as we age.

“There are things that happen in life that can shake people a little bit, and force them to adapt their narcissistic qualities. As you age, you form new relationships, have new experiences, start a family and so on. All of these factors make someone realize that it’s not ‘all about them,’” Chopik continued.

And get this: younger generations (i.e. teenagers today) are more well-behaved than any other in recent history. They’re also eschewing alcohol, cigarettes (I’m guessing e-cigs weren’t counted?) and teen sex by way wider margins than previous recent generations.

There you go, my fellow snowflakes. I guess we’ll all just sit here and not melt together (as the Earth warms around us), because we’re tough like that.

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Postal Service Releases New Stamps Benefiting Veterans With PTSD

One thing that our divided nation can all get together to support is helping out our veterans. And even though the task may seem daunting to many of us, one easy way we can all help out is by purchasing these new stamps the United States Postal Service has put out to benefit military veterans suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Sales of the stamps (which cost 65 cents and will cover the cost of a piece of first-class mail) will benefit the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, which oversees the National Center for PTSD.

The photo of the plant sprouting from ground surrounded by dead leaves on the stamp was taken by Mark Laita. The USPS says the image on the stamp is meant to “symbolize the PTSD healing process, growth and hope.”

The USPS explained the motivation behind the stamp:

“With this semipostal stamp, the U.S. Postal Service will raise funds to help treat those impacted by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Tens of millions of Americans will experience PTSD in their lifetimes. Today, the nation is increasingly dedicated to compassionately treating this mental health issue.

Many kinds of trauma can lead people to experience persistent symptoms such as intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and difficulty sleeping. Depression, anxiety, and fear can also occur. Though these symptoms may initially interrupt one’s daily life, for most people they typically dissipate over time. However, if these problems continue for more than a month, PTSD may have developed.”

Go to your local post office to pick up these stamps or you can order them online HERE. Your money will go to a great cause.

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