Written by Alison Ralph September 2022
Keeping on top of your finances can be difficult when you have poor mental health and poor mental health can cause difficulties with keeping on top of your finances. Keeping on top of finances has been one of the main concerns in the media recently with the rising costs of living and people suddenly only being able to afford the basic things in life. Now, more than ever, it is important to keep on top of your finances giving you one less thing to worry about!
In this blog post I will help you to:
- Recognise the link between mental health and finances
- Learn some tips for keeping on top of your finances
- Gain some new strategies for overcoming the feelings of stress or anxiety
- Find new websites that offer support if you are struggling with mental health and finances
What is the link between mental health and finances?
You may be struggling with poor mental health and notice that it has an affect on your ability to keep on top of bills or causes you to go out on a spending spree. Or you may be having difficulties with debt or living hand to mouth and noticing that the stress of this is causing you to feel that you have poor mental health. The link between mental health and keeping on top of your finances can feel like a vicious cycle.
There are many ways that mental health can affect your ability to stay on top of your finances and there are many ways finances can affect your mental health. Here’s just a few examples:
Low or depressed – if you are feeling low or depressed, you may lack the motivation to stay on top of your finances, or you might not feel like there is any point and this could cause you to get into debt. Alternatively, it could cause you to avoid looking at bills or checking your bank account. It may even stop you thinking about money altogether; blocking it out as a way of coping.
Spending as a natural high – spending may give you a brief high and so you may overspend or even make an impulsive spending decision.
Affecting work or study– If your mental health affects your ability to work or study, you may find that it reduces your income.
Anxiety, depression and stress – Having lack of money can cause stress, especially if you are struggling to afford day to day essentials such as food, water and accommodation. Long term stress can lead to issues such as anxiety and depression. Worrying about money can also lead to sleep problems and long term sleep problems can have an effect on our mental health.
Relationships – money problems can affect your social life and relationships, causing you to feel lonely and isolated, or like you can’t afford to do the things you would like to do.
Top tips for staying on top of your finances
I certainly do not claim to be an expert in staying on top of your finances but here are some great ideas for you to explore that may just help you to stay on top of your finances.
- Get budgeting – work out how much you have coming in on your typical month. Then look at bills going out. Now set a budget for food, petrol, hobbies or treats AND stick to it! You could use this budget planner to get you started.
- Check your bank account on a set day and time throughout the month- this will help you understand what you are spending and see how much you have left.
- Use direct debit payments so you know what is coming in and going out and so you don’t forget to pay for something.
- Find new ways to make extra cash – Selling clothes, households goods or toys that you no longer need. There are many websites that allow you to do this.
- Find a local surplus food centre where you can buy food for a fraction of the cost of a supermarket.
My top 5 strategies for overcoming the feelings of stress and anxiety
In my role as a hypnotherapist and counsellor, I help people day to day to overcome the feelings of stress and anxiety, some of which are a result of worrying about finances. If you would like to find out more about how to work with me then click here but be sure to read my 5 strategies for overcoming the feelings of stress and anxiety.
- Investigate your feelings and habits towards your finances – ask yourself these questions and then look at ways to change your habits.
- Are there certain times you are more likely to spend money? Any emotions or situations attached to the spending?
- Are there certain times you are more likely to save money? Again, are there links with emotions or situations?
- How do you feel when you spend money?
- Do you feel differently when you are spending to when you are saving?
- Which aspects of money cause your mental health to feel worse? For example, opening bills, attending appointments, looking at your bank balance.
- Use a breathing technique when feelings of stress or anxiety begin in the body – My favourite is deep belly breathing. Here’s how to do it:
- Practise relaxation techniques or meditation – there are lots out there to access for free, or you can: Sit or lie in a comfortable position. Scan your body from head to toes or toes to head and release any tension you might be holding in the muscles (we are often holding it when we don’t realise so trust me, give it a go!). Complete some deep belly breathing and then think about a lovely, calm and relaxing place; a place you may have been to before or one that you would like to create in your mind. Maybe a place with wonderful memories. One where you will be fully relaxed.
- Try not to avoid certain situations such as, having a conversation with the bank, going to the job centre or opening a bill. The more that we avoid a situation, the more stressful and anxiety inducing it can become. Avoidance can cause you to feel stuck and will cause you to ruminate about the things you are avoiding and therefore make your mood worse.
- Remember, there are places you can go to for financial, non-judgemental help, and that it is okay to ask for help…
Websites you can access that can help if you are struggling with mental health or your finances.
- Martin Lewis’s free guide for everyone struggling with their finances and a mental health problem. A guide to help you with tips and advice if you are struggling with spending money
- Citizen’s Advice – a place to go if you would like advice on how to use money correctly
- Stepchange – can help with your mental health and money
- Christian’s Against Poverty – can give you support through difficult times related to money
- National Debtline – offers a phone line where you can talk to someone about your issues
- National Energy Action – has a number you can call for advice and support if you are struggling to heat your home.
- Ofgem – has a list of government schemes and grants that can help with energy costs
To sum up!
It is clear to see that there is a direct link between mental health and finances and that for each person this is different. It is important to reach out for help in times of poor mental health or when you are struggling with your finances to avoid one affecting the other. It may be that you find the tips for staying on top of your finances to be helpful, or you might like to try my strategies for overcoming stress or anxiety. Whatever you take from this blog post, it must be right for you and allow yourself some time to notice the improvements.
Most importantly, remember that it is okay to ask for help!
If you would like someone to talk to who is non-judgmental, understanding and ready to listen then feel free to get in touch Alison Ralph – Macclesfield Hypnotherapy and Counselling (alisonralph-therapy.co.uk)