Most of us are working from home these days. At times, the boundaries between work and home become blurred, and your to-do list grows longer regardless of how many tasks you’ve completed.
That’s when the anxiety and worries creep in. Besides affecting your health, stress is also a hazard to your bank account. Here are four ways that stress can cost you money. Beware of them.
1. Stress eating
According to studies, some people overeat when they feel stressed.
According to psychologist Susan Albers (from Cleveland Clinic, a U.S. non-profit academic medical centre), some people overeat when they feel stressed.
“When you’re feeling stressed, your body sends out cortisol, known as the stress hormone. Cortisol can make you crave sugary, salty and fatty foods, because your brain thinks it needs fuel to fight whatever threat is causing the stress,” Albers revealed.
So you’ll most likely want to gobble up endless cookies, kuih or chips when things feel unbearable at work. These snacks may seem cheap at first, but they add up in the long run.
Estimated snack prices: Cookies (from RM3), kuih (from RM6), and potato chips (RM2 - RM20++)
It’s best to enjoy these in moderation.
2. Smoking or vaping
For some people, smoking and vaping are like ‘self-medication’ to ease stress.
Some people say smoking and vaping are like ‘self-medication’ to ease feelings of stress. However, according to mentalhealth.org, smoking actually increases anxiety and tension.
The same article explained that cigarettes contain nicotine, a mood altering chemical that stimulates the release of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine causes feelings of pleasure and relaxation, a sensation the body craves. However, during these feelings of perceived relaxation, the body is actually experiencing increased stress. Your blood pressure and heart rate will increase, muscles become tense, and less oxygen is available to the body and brain.
As vape also contains nicotine, you are likely to experience the same side effects as cigarettes.
Estimated cigarette prices: RM12 - RM17.40
Estimated vape prices: From RM35
3. Using alcohol to cope
Malaysia’s alcohol excise duty is the second-highest in the world, so drinking can be a costly activity.
It’s 6pm, and you think having few alcoholic drinks can help you de-stress after a long day. That’s only true to a certain extent. According to medical portal healthline.com, drinking may help take your mind off of your troubles at first.
However, once you start drinking, you can build a tolerance to the de-stressing effects of beer, wine, vodka, and other alcoholic beverages. Then you’ll need more and more drinks to ‘unwind’. Over time, consuming too much alcohol can lead to blackouts, memory loss, and liver damage.
Additionally, Malaysia’s alcohol excise duty, at RM175 per litre of alcohol by volume, is also the second-highest in the world. So besides affecting your health, you’ll be spending a fortune on expensive beverages
Estimated alcohol prices: From RM6.50 (for the cheapest can of beer) to hundreds of ringgit (for premium booze).
4. Shopping sprees
Impulse buys can consume your savings quickly and put you in debt.
Ever used an online shopping app after a tense meeting? Yeah, we have all been through some form of ‘retail therapy’ too.
Something beautiful catches your eye online, or there might be a flash sale for the items you like. You think treating yourself is fine after a tough time at work, so before you know it, you have selected the ‘Buy Now’ button.
The downside of this is that impulse buys can eat into your savings, and you could be on a tight budget for the rest of the month. Worse, you may also find yourself deep in credit card debt.
Cost of shopping sprees: From RM19 (collectible minifigures) to thousands of ringgit (branded apparel and accessories).
What you should do instead
Having someone to talk to can also help you de-stress.
- Exercise: When you work out, your body will release endorphins. This chemical can improve your mood and act as a natural painkiller.
- Enjoy calming remedies: Drinking green tea can help lower stress and anxiety by increasing your serotonin levels. You can also try other calming herbal remedies such as chamomile tea and lavender essential oil.
- Reduce caffeine intake: Drinking too much coffee, tea, or energy drinks can cause anxiety. So if you notice that caffeine makes you jittery, try cutting back.
- Spend time with friends and family: Social support from your loved ones can help you through tough times. Having someone to talk to can also help you de-stress.
- Laugh: Watch some comedy series. Hang out with friends who make you laugh. Laughter can relieve tension by relaxing your muscles, as well as improve your immune system and mood.
- Get professional help: It’s alright to consult a psychologist or counsellor, especially. There are now many affordable mental health service providers in Malaysia. We should take care of our mental health, especially during this lockdown period.
Another way to de-stress is by watching your bank account grow. Having sizable savings means you won’t have to worry about next month’s bills. You can also sleep soundly knowing that you are on your way to financial freedom.