Mind Over Money: The Relationship Between Money and Stress

Money problems impact our mental health and well-being. That’s why we’re working with neuroscientist Dr. Jack Lewis to help you find out what your stress triggers are and how to manage them.

4 min read

At N26, our mission is to empower you to live and bank your way. We understand that money can be stressful. It could start by worrying about how much you spent last month, being surprised by a bill, or an unexpected expense like a broken down car or trip to the doctor. Whatever the scenario, financial stresses can really weigh on our minds and it can become difficult to focus on anything else.

The first step in gaining control over stress is understanding the causes behind it. So to unpack the factors that contribute to financial stress, we’ve teamed up with a renowned neuroscientist, Dr. Jack Lewis, and conducted a global study that delves deeper into those feelings of stress and anxiety. 

What we found

The research, carried out among 1000 people across the U.S. and Europe, put individuals through an implicit testing experiment to determine the hierarchy of stress and anxiety for a series of financial and everyday scenarios. Put plainly, we delved into their brains to see what makes people tick and, more importantly, what makes people worry.

In the U.S., the most stressful financial scenarios were losing a job (87%), being maxed out on overdraft (87%), and a declined transaction (85%). However, it's clear that financial stress in all forms has only been exacerbated this year by the ongoing global pandemic and its economic repercussions, which is why we looked to science as a resource to help. 

The science of stress

Money problems impact our mental health and well-being. That’s why we’re working with Dr. Jack Lewis, neuroscientist and author of best-selling book Sort Your Brain Out, to find out what our stress triggers are, however small they might seem, and to work out how to tame them so we can get back in control of our mindset.

“The stress hormone that has been studied most intensively is cortisol, released from our adrenal glands in responses to commands sent down from the brain, to sharpen reaction times and focus the mind to help deal with the problem at hand,” says Dr. Lewis. “Too little cortisol released into the bloodstream and people struggle to get motivated. Too much cortisol and they feel perpetually wound up and ready to act, but unable to think straight and make good decisions.”

To strike the right balance, Dr. Lewis urges individuals to find their “Goldilocks Zone.”

“The trick is to know which stress management techniques work best for you personally, to continuously hunt for new ones, and most importantly, to use them on a daily basis,” he explains. “This last part is the hardest of all to master, particularly given the external stress of the last year, which has seen more arguments, more breakups and an increased fear of losing our jobs and income. But get the balance right and you’ll successfully be able to get back in control.”

When we feel stressed by several situations at the same time, humans aren’t wired to “slack off.” Even if we tried to relax—we tell ourselves—we’ll just end up feeling frustrated that we still feel stressed no matter what music we listen to, no matter how long we spend doing breathing exercises, or no matter how many laps we take around the park. This is a perfectly natural part of the chronic stress story and can only be mastered by prioritizing a proactive approach to stress management in your life to become a daily practice. 

If you get in the habit of practicing various stress-reducing activities several times per day, over time they become more and more effective. Through daily practice over many weeks, the brain pathways involved in redirecting stress become stronger and more effective at delivering stress-relieving benefits.

How can we help?

We’re here to help you take control of your financial life, so that you have one less thing to stress about. With N26 Perks, you can save money on favorite monthly subscriptions like Headspace, which can help you worry less, master the basics of meditation, hack your sleep cycle, and more.

And when you bank with N26, we’ll send you instant notifications on all account activity so you never have to agonize over what is happening with your balance. Set money aside for emergencies or for a rainy day with Spaces. You can easily set daily or weekly spending limits to prevent breaking your budget. And for those moments where you need a little extra cash to cover an unexpected expense, you’ll get your paycheck up to 2 days early when you sign up for direct deposit. 

Ready for financial peace of mind? Open an N26 account in just 5 minutes directly from your phone.

The N26 account is offered by Axos Bank®, Member FDIC. N26 Inc. is a service provider of Axos Bank. All deposit accounts of the same ownership and/or vesting held at Axos Bank are combined and insured under the same FDIC Certificate 35546. All deposit accounts through Axos Bank brands are not separately insured by the FDIC from other deposit accounts held with the same ownership and/or vesting at Axos Bank. The N26 Visa® Debit Card is issued by Axos Bank pursuant to a license by Visa U.S.A. Inc. The N26 Visa Debit Card may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.

By N26

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