financial stress nervous system

The effects of financial stress on your nervous system

financial stress nervous system

Did you know that nearly half of the world’s population lives below the $6.85 poverty line? This financial strain doesn’t just affect bank accounts—it has serious impacts on your brain and nervous system. Recent neuroscience research reveals that financial stress can significantly impair crucial parts of your central nervous system, which includes your brain and spinal cord.

Key brain areas affected by financial stress

Key brain areas like the hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex are particularly affected by financial stress on the nervous system. The hippocampus helps with long-term memory and retrieval, the amygdala regulates emotions, and the prefrontal cortex is responsible for planning and self-control. When these regions are impaired by financial stress, you might experience difficulties with memory, emotional regulation, social skills, and self-control. Financial stress has also been linked to higher rates of learning disabilities, ADHD, and autism.

How financial stress harms the nervous system

There are several reasons why financial stress harms your nervous system. Not getting enough protein, being exposed to harmful chemicals, missing out on important nutrients, and not having enough sensory experiences all play a part. If a mother doesn’t get enough nutrition while pregnant, her child is more likely to face developmental and social problems. So, growing up with financial stress can seriously affect brain development.

Breaking free from survival mode

Living in financial stress often puts us into “survival mode,” an altered state focused solely on getting through the day. In survival mode, your body releases more stress hormones and activates your stress-response systems, which is great for immediate dangers but harmful if prolonged. Constant financial stress keeps you stuck in survival mode, where there’s little room for joy, healing, or long-term planning.

It’s completely unfair that financial struggles can affect your mind and body so deeply. While relaxation and healing practices won’t make your financial problems disappear, they can help you see the bigger picture. You are not your problems. You are more than your financial struggles. Your financial struggles don’t define you. Thanks to neuroplasticity, your brain can reorganize and heal itself. The first step is recognizing that you’re in survival mode due to financial stress. Pay attention to signs like muscle tension, trouble sleeping, or an obsessive focus on short-term goals. Once you identify these patterns, you can begin to reassure yourself that it’s okay to relax and heal.

Steps to healing

Moving from survival to thriving is a gradual process. Start by building awareness of your survival mechanisms and understanding that it’s safe to let them go. This might involve seeking (any form of free) therapy, practicing self-care, or finding new ways to manage stress. Each small step towards awareness and relaxation can help you transition from merely surviving to truly thriving.


This article was featured in our May mini issue, themed “May Money Month.”

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The effects of financial stress on your nervous system