Financial stress can impact your mind, body and overall wellbeing

There is no doubt about it – times are tough, especially after the devastating news about South Africa’s sovereign credit rating being cut to junk status. 

Most citizens are barely (or not even close to) making ends meet these days. And the reality goes along with more stress, sleepless nights, bad eating habits, low productivity and even depression. The 7th of April is World Health Day. This year the special awareness day is focussing on the impact and the effect of depression. DebtSafe therefore wants to highlight the importance of keeping one’s mind, body and overall wellbeing healthy. The DebtSafe team ran a 2017 Wellness Survey on health and habits. And almost 2000 South Africans took part in this questionnaire. The following results stood out from the rest and can shed some light on the importance of one’s overall health.

Financial Worries

The majority of the respondents indicate that financial stress influence their overall health (71%) and stress levels (65%). Eighty-seven percent also specify that financial stress contributes to their state of mind by feeling stressed, tired for no reason, worried and depressed. The biggest financial worries respondents point out are: they have too much debt and that they are not able to save for anything.

Eating Habits

Wilna Eksteen, a qualified dietitian from Pretoria, Gauteng, says people need to eat well to feel well, look healthy and live a long life. Fifty-Seven percent of the Wellness Survey’s respondents state that they eat takeaways a few times a month. This does not only indicate unhealthy eating habits but it also rips out a chunk of money that could have been tucked away for better use. Eksteen explains: “As soon as people are not mindful of what they are eating, how they are living and working, they lose their minds in a tornado of stress. Healthy eating is not supposed to be difficult, it is a lifestyle that makes people feel good. If they feel good, it is hard to be depressed and stressed.”


According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa, over a quarter of men and almost half of women are physically inactive. The DebtSafe Wellness Survey also shows a staggering 61% of the participants that only do 0-3 hours exercise a week.  The Heart and Stroke Foundation furthermore explains that exercise is extremely important as it provides the most profound long-term health benefits. 

Sleeping Patterns

Eighty-five percent indicate that financial stress is the reason for their lack of proper sleep. The respondents that exercise 0-3 hours a week also indicate that they sleep less than seven hours an evening. These patterns, therefore, leave them feeling more stressed, tired for no reason, depressed and even unhappy. 

Productivity at Work

Financial stress can drain one’s energy which has a direct impact on work productivity. Seventy-four percent of the respondents say financial stress contributes to their low productivity levels and the respondents also say they were absent a total number of four days at work in March 2017, because of their mental health. Almost 60% rate their productivity only as average and below average, nothing indicating to an above average or very high. 

From the above information, it is evident that financial stress impacts one’s overall wellbeing. Wikus Olivier, debt management expert at DebtSafe, therefore shares some tips in making sure one doesn’t fall into a stagnating dip:

  • Olivier encourages South Africans to eat regular healthy snacks to keep sugar levels intact and to not skip meals as this will keep not only your body, but also your mind, healthy.
  • When hitting a productive low, Olivier says you can boost your energy levels with a walk around the office, a fast climb up the stairs or some ‘deskercise’ (exercise at your desk).  There are quite a few exercises you can start doing – it does not only give you a break from sitting at your desk, it is also fun and refreshing.
  • Olivier says he has learned from his own experience that good sleeping patterns and regular exercise help him to not only get his body active and healthy, but also his mind.
  • Financial stress is a part of South Africans’ lives these days but you can try your utmost to lighten your load, says Olivier. Go and see your financial planner to set your finances off in a new and better direction. And if you are currently stuck in a very bad over-indebted situation, don’t get discouraged and depressed, contact DebtSafe to assist you in becoming debt-free. There are various professionals that can assist you, don’t be ashamed to seek the necessary help in regard to your health and finances, concludes Olivier.

World Health Day is the perfect ‘encourager’ to start taking a serious look at your lifestyle, overall health and financial situation. The time is now to start doing something – so get started and turn a brand new leaf to a stress-free and healthy financial future.

About DebtSafe:

DebtSafe is a registered debt counsellor and has helped thousands of over-indebted South Africans to clear their debt via its innovative debt counselling program. Start your new beginning by contacting one of our skilled debt advisors:  0861 100 999; email: or SMS “info” to 30898 (free of charge).

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