COVID-19 has been wreaking havoc on the U.S. for weeks. Not only has it sickened thousands of people, but it's also hammered the stock market and driven millions of workers into unemployment. It's not shocking, then, to learn that 22% of Americans say their sleep quality is worse than usual during this challenging time, according to a recent survey by SleepHelp.org, a sleep education site. And 14% are sleeping less -- largely due to fears of falling ill.
Of course, there are steps you can take to protect your health in the coming weeks: Stay home as much as possible, and if you need to leave the house, do so only to buy essentials and then wash your hands well afterward. But if you're losing sleep because of the financial impact of COVID-19, there's even more you can do to ease your fears. Here are a few steps to start with.
1. Pad your emergency fund
Having a solid emergency fund is a good way to buy yourself financial protection in today's rocky economic climate. Ideally, you should have enough money in savings to pay for three to six months of essential bills.
That sum of money could conceivably get you through a period of unemployment. If you still have a paycheck coming in, aim to sock as much of it away in the bank as possible for some much-needed peace of mind.
2. Make yourself more valuable at work
Many people who haven't lost their jobs yet due to COVID-19 worry that they could wind up on the chopping block if things get worse -- such as, if a full-blown recession strikes.
If you're doing your job from home and don't have children to care for simultaneously, use the opportunity to boost some of the skills you may be lacking. Or learn some new skills that will help you better excel not just in general, but also in your remote environment. The upside of working from home is not having to contend with co-worker distractions, so if you use that time wisely, you may lessen your chances of being let go.
3. Explore your options for borrowing money affordably
Even if you're still earning money through your job, it's hard to say what the next few months will have in store. Another good way to ease your mind is to figure out how you might borrow money affordably should the need to do so arise.
If you own a home, a home equity line of credit is an option worth exploring. That way, you don't actually borrow money you need to pay back immediately; rather, you gain access to a line of credit you can tap in the future should you lose your job or see your hours cut.
A lot of people are losing sleep because of the COVID-19 crisis, and understandably so. If financial concerns are exacerbating the problem for you, take the above steps to buy yourself a degree of comfort. These moves may not allay your health-related fears but could work wonders for those that are money-related.