If the start of a new year has you worried about money, you're not alone. From all walks of life, many of us have to deal with financial stresses, strains and uncertainty. Whether problems stem from loss of work, escalating debt, unexpected expenses or a combination of factors, financial worry is one of the most common stressors in today's world.
How financial problems may affect mental health
You may be feeling, behaving or thinking in unfamiliar ways. But this doesn't necessarily mean you're suffering from depression or an anxiety disorder.
Fear plays a huge part in our emotions regarding money. Feeling low or anxious is a normal response when you have financial problems, but we often jump to the worst-case scenario; Can I pay my bills? Will staff be paid on time? Can I put food on the table?
When we let fear take over, our stress increases, and we make decisions, often not in our best interest. It can become a vicious cycle:
- Financial problems adversely impact your mental health. The stress of debt or other money issues leaves you feeling depressed or anxious. It can lead to poor sleep and eating habits and often affect our relationships.
- The decline in your mental health makes it harder to manage money. You may find it harder to concentrate or lack the energy to tackle a mounting pile of bills. Or you may lose income by taking time off work due to anxiety or depression.
- These difficulties managing money lead to more financial problems and worsening mental health problems, and so on. You become trapped in a downward spiral of increasing money problems and declining mental health.
How to survive financial stress
There are things you can do to keep on top of your financial stress. The first is to look at what you can do to help you cope with stress like having regular exercise, eating well and limiting alcohol intake. The second is to look at practical things like budget planning, raising funds, or seeking advice from specialist debt advisers.
Looking after yourself
Stay active -
Keep seeing your friends and family; they are our primary source of support. If you have more time because you're not at work, do some form of exercise – physical activity can improve your mood if you're feeling low.
Face your fears -
Don't bury your head in the sand. When people feel anxious, they sometimes avoid talking to others. Some people can lose their confidence about driving or travelling. If this happens, facing these situations will generally make them more manageable.
Do not drink too much alcohol -
For some people, alcohol can become a problem. You may drink more than usual as a way of dealing with your emotions or to fill up some time. But alcohol will not help you deal with your problems and add to your stress.
Do not give up your daily routine -
Get up at your regular time and stick to your usual routine. If you lose your way, it can affect your eating – you may stop cooking, miss breakfast because you're still in bed, or eat snacks instead of having proper meals.
Practical tips on how to manage your debt
Citizens Advice Bureau -
The Citizens Advice Bureau
is an excellent place to get information on how to deal with debt, budgeting, what you're entitled to if you're made redundant, borrowing money and mortgage problems.
Budgeting and savings apps -
Understanding how your financial problems started is key to getting your finances on the straight and narrow. Budgeting apps can help you understand how much and where you spend your money. Once you are on the correct debt recovery path, savings apps like Plum and MoneyBox can help you save money too.
- The GOV.UK website has sections on:
Other helpful organisations include
- redundancy and dismissals
- managing debt
- Money Advice Service (0300 500 5000)
- National Debtline (0808 808 4000)
- StepChange Debt Charity (0800 138 1111)
- Citizens Advice Scotland (0808 800 9060)
How can we help?
Whilst a Private Medical scheme will not solve your money problems, you need to be fighting fit to get through this period of financial stress. We have available a range of healthcare options to support both mental and physical health. For more information, email email@example.com
or call us on 0330 221 0241