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Dealing with money worries

Find out how to deal with debt stress and money worries in a practical way.
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Published on February 4th, 2020
Last reviewed on September 29th, 2023
6 mins read

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Feeling stressed about money and debt? You're not alone — money worries are common, but it's important to remember that you're not alone and that with the right support you can get back on track. We want to help, so in this guide we'll explain how to deal with debt stress and money worries in a practical way.

What is debt stress?

If you're feeling anxious about money and it's starting to affect your daily life you may be experiencing what's called debt stress. Put simply, debt stress is a type of anxiety that people feel when their financial situation changes and debt level increases or looks like it may increase soon.

Experiencing debt stress is extremely common and is nothing to feel ashamed of. It's important to know that it's usually temporary and that you can manage it with the right support, practical measures, and lifestyle changes.

Recognising the symptoms of debt stress syndrome

You may be experiencing debt stress if you are:

  • Feeling unable to deal with your finances.
  • Concerned or despairing about the future.
  • Arguing with loved ones about money.
  • Feeling a lack of control.
  • Experiencing shame or guilt.
  • Starting to experience symptoms of anxiety or depression, including insomnia.

If you're feeling any of these symptoms, visit the NHS website to find out more about the support you can get.

There are also some simple, effective ways to deal with debt stress, which we'll guide you through in the next section.

How to cope with money stress

There are a number of simple, practical ways to manage money stress and reduce its potential impact on your mental health.


If you're feeling overwhelmed with money stress, learning how to create a monthly budget can be a great way to get organised and regain control of your finances.

Laying out all of your income and outgoings clearly on paper or in a spreadsheet means you can see exactly where your cash is going, identify areas where you can save, and keep on track with debt repayments.

We've written a helpful guide on how to budget, and The Money Advice Service has a handy budget planner you can use to get started.

Arranging a repayment plan

If you've fallen behind with repayments on your debts, speaking to your creditors may feel like the last thing in the world you want to do. But this is the first step in getting on track to reducing your debit and will help prevent your situation from getting worse. Talking through your money worries with a member of the customer support team can help – they're trained to help in these situations and they can help you organise a repayment plan you can afford.

If you feel you need additional support, StepChange Debt Charity offers free debt advice to support you with your money worries. They can even speak to your creditors on your behalf if you feel unable to do so.

Got an Aqua card? We're here to help. If you are experiencing problems repaying your card, please give us a call on 0333 220 2691 and we can talk it through.

Have a daily routine

Humans are creatures of habit and having a daily routine supports us so we can relax.

If you're stressed about money you might find you start to avoid the things you usually enjoy, like your favourite exercise class, or spending quality time with family and friends. But, actually, sticking to your daily routine can really benefit your physical and mental well-being and may help to reduce your money worries, or at least put them into perspective.

Having a daily routine may bring comfort when you're feeling stressed, anxious or low, so try not to skip the things that make you happy when money stress takes hold.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet

What you eat can affect your mood, so when you're worried about money it's important to keep eating a healthy, balanced diet. Eating regular, nutritious meals helps to keep your blood sugar levels (i.e. energy) balanced and ensures your body gets everything it needs to fuel your mind.

If you're looking for some healthy eating inspiration, the NHS provides some useful food tips and recipe ideas to help you to keep eating healthy.

Reducing alcohol consumption

Alcohol is a depressant — so although it can be tempting to drink more when you feel low, it may affect your mood. Drinking too much when you feel worried might make you feel worse, and could leave you feeling tired and even more stressed the next day.

When you're experiencing debt stress and money worries, it's wise to drink mindfully. The charity Drink Aware provides some useful advice and helpful contact numbers if you're worried about your drinking.


Regular exercise is a powerful way to reduce your stress levels and improve your mental health. Just half an hour of exercise each day is enough to bring you benefits.

Some simple, free ways to get enough exercise include:

  • Parking further away or getting off the bus/train early so you walk further.
  • Using the stairs instead of taking the lift.
  • Going for a brisk walk at lunch time.
  • Dancing hard to your favourite music for 30 minutes.
  • Going for a jog for an hour but walking in between sprints.

Mental health and financial stress

The strategies we've covered are effective ways to manage debt stress but they may not work for everyone. If not spotted or managed early enough, long-term debt stress could lead to anxiety or depression, or exacerbate symptoms you already have.

If you're experiencing ongoing money worries and feel anxious or depressed, it's important to know that you're not alone and there's plenty of help available. Most people experience anxiety or depression at some point in their lifetime, and there are many effective treatments and sources of support available.

Each person's experience of anxiety and depression will be slightly different but there are some common signs. The mental health charity, Mind, provides useful resources:

Anxiety and depression can be managed effectively through lifestyle changes, talk or behavioural therapy, and medication. Your doctor can help you find the right treatment for you to improve your symptoms.

Where to get help?

The main thing to remember if you're experiencing money worries and debt stress is that it's common and manageable.

If you're worried about money and are already an Aqua customer, you can speak to us about your concerns. We're always happy to help.

There are also plenty of helpful resources online:

If you're experiencing the symptoms of anxiety or depression due to money worries, speak to your GP or go to the NHS website to find out more about the help and support available.

Failure to make payments on time or to stay within your credit limit means that you will pay additional charges and may make obtaining credit in the future more expensive and difficult.

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Failure to make payments on time or to stay within your credit limit means that you will pay additional charges and may make obtaining credit in the future more expensive and difficult.