Posted on Nov 13, 2023, 2 p.m.
When you’re committed to going to college, you aren’t deterred by what could potentially stop you from going. Even the significant barriers, like cost, aren’t big enough to bar determined students from entry. Instead, they look for solutions.
In regards to the expense problem, student loans are the answer for many students. While they’re confident in their ability to repay their loans once they graduate, the reality is that many students end up with high student loan debt that seems impossible to pay down fully.
And unfortunately, that big burden can negatively impact health and well-being.
What Student Loan Debt Can Do to Your Health and Well-Being
The rising costs of college have many students worried about how they will afford their education. It costs approximately 2000% more today to attend both private and public colleges than it did four decades ago.
Also, salaries across all jobs haven’t grown nearly as much. So, paying out of pocket for college is rare. As a result, student loans became more enticing, especially the ones that don’t consider proof of income and credit score as criteria for approval.
While many students are focused on how student loan debt affects their finances, they may be missing the bigger issue of how it impacts their physical and mental health.
Knowing that you’re on the hook for thousands of dollars in student loans is stressful. Carrying around that pressure and not having the security of knowing you can make your payments makes things even more stressful.
- Worsened pre-existing conditions
- Increased production of cortisol that can lead to immune system issues
- Your muscles are always tense resulting in neck and back pain
- Increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure
As far as your mental health, the stress induced by financial strain can cause an onset of conditions like anxiety and depression. Mood and morale remain low, making it hard to enjoy anything, let alone concentrate on school and other responsibilities.
Finally, student loan debt can impact your ability to afford what’s necessary for stable holistic health.
For example, many students develop poor eating habits because they can only afford cheap or fast food that isn’t good for their health. Or, some put off doctor appointments because they can’t afford copays due to student loan payments.
Protect Your Holistic Health While Navigating Financial Stress
A lot of bad can happen to your physical and mental health when student loan debt becomes unbearable. Fortunately, there are ways to navigate this financial stress and secure your health and well-being simultaneously.
Define your current financial landscape and create a plan to improve it
If you’re ignoring your student loan debt and hoping it will just go away with time, stop that today. As unsettling as it may be to really see where you are financially, it’s necessary.
Truth be told, you’ll feel a lot better when you know the scope of your financial landscape because you can create a tangible plan to improve it and, in turn, your health and well-being.
So, sit down and audit your finances. How much student loan and other debt do you have? Are you making any debt payments right now? What are your other monthly expenses? How much do you bring in every month?
Once you have your financial situation laid out in front of you, create a budget that includes debt payments so that you can start to lower your total debt.
Visit financial services on campus
As you figure out your finances, it might be a good idea to visit the financial services office on your campus. They can confirm your student loan and cost obligations. They can go over any scholarships or grants that are newly available to you and help you apply for them.
Financial services can also point you in the direction of resources that provide debt relief and financial counseling.
Relieve stress with regular exercise and other self-care activities
Once you have student loan debt, it will take time to pay it off. So, you’ll be dealing with some level of financial stress while you finish school and in a lot of your life after graduation. Having ways to cope with that stress, like regular exercise and self-care, is critical.
Your body releases endorphins when you exercise. These endorphins produce feelings of happiness and reduce anxiety and depression. You also become more confident as you achieve more exercise-wise. And that in turn, leads to an inherently positive mindset that makes paying off a mountain of debt more achievable.
Choose exercise activities and a schedule you can commit to, as staying consistent is the key to experiencing meaningful stress relief.
What’s also helpful in mitigating stress is daily self-care. Even the simplest activities, like reciting affirmations, taking a shower, or talking to a friend can feed your soul and help you feel better despite your situation.
Make a list of what you love to do and incorporate at least one thing on this list into each day.
Pay attention to your diet
In addition to establishing a regular exercise routine, pay attention to your diet. What you eat impacts how strong you are physically and mentally.
For example, foods like almonds, broccoli, yogurt, and turmeric support your immune health. When your immune system is fully functioning, you can better fight off illnesses that stop you from working and going to school.
Bananas, apples, and strawberries can give you the energy to keep going despite the stress you’re dealing with. And plant-based whole foods like nuts, seeds, and plant oils can enhance your mental well-being.
Strive for an overall nutritious diet to stay mentally and physically healthy.
There’s no denying the relationship between student loan debt, stress, and well-being. Don’t allow the financial stress to beat up your mind and body and impact your education. Instead, implement the advice here to protect your holistic health as you become more financially secure.
This article was written for WHN by Charlie Fletcher who is a freelance writer from the lovely “city of trees”- Boise, Idaho. Her love of writing pairs with her passion for social activism and her search for the truth. You can find more of her writing on Contently.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
Opinion Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of WHN/A4M. Any content provided by guest authors is of their own opinion and is not intended to malign any religion, ethic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything.
Content may be edited for style and length.
References/Sources/Materials provided by: