At the moment, it can feel like we are being bombarded with scary news headlines about rising costs and the cost-of-living crisis, with many having to tighten budgets and worry about increased bills. And this can have a huge impact on our psychological safety and our mental health.
So, Whyfield has collaborated with Amber Cowburn, a global mental health trainer and founder of Working Well, to share some financial wellbeing tips.
Money is an important factor for mental health in a number of ways; debt and money struggles can cause lots of stress and worry, which can affect our mental health. But in turn; poor mental health can make working, earning and managing finances even harder. So sadly, it can become a vicious cycle – but it doesn’t have to be this way, with the right support in place.
There are steps we can take and support we can seek to make things easier.
The key message for anybody reading this, is that you are not alone and you don’t have to cope with financial struggles in silence. When it comes to mental health and finances; the earlier we seek help and get some coping strategies in place, the better the outcome.
This is a message that I always lead with in my training courses: imagine you have a toolbox of ways to support your mental and financial health. Now, let’s fill that toolbox up with some useful strategies! Even the simplest things can make a big difference. And the more people and services that we have in our toolbox to call on for support, advice and help, the less we feel alone and isolated too.
Tips for looking after your finances
- Get organised: Getting organised and tidy is a really powerful step for our mental health and our financial wellbeing; we feel calmer, more in control, and clear-headed. If your finance documents are all in different places or stuffed in the back of a cupboard, then put aside an afternoon to pull them all out, sort through them, and sort them into piles or folders. Even though it may feel scary at first, it will feel so much better when you’ve done it.
- Plan a budget: Focus on the essential things first that you need to spend on every month (e.g., rent, energy bills, food, phone or TV) and then be honest and list everything you spend on each month. Try to identify small things that are perhaps draining your budget and use the Mental Health and Money Advice website, where there is a free budget planner.
- Regular check-ins: Have a weekly routine where you check your bank balance, and update any budget documents. Check in regularly so that you know where you’re at and there are no nasty surprises. Avoid checking your bank balance or finances before bed, or when you’re feeling low or emotional, as we want to look at this information as objectively as possible.
- Get in control of debt: Being in debt is really common and not something you should be ashamed about; but it’s important to get all the support and advice you can, and not suffer in silence as it can really affect your mental health. There is support out there! I would recommend trying an online debt tool like the one on the Step Change or even call the National Debt line to get instant, tailored advice.
- Make some budget swaps – Money-saving hacks or swaps can really add up when we are saving a few pounds here and there. Money-saving coupons and codes can help you find great deals, and online you can use the free ‘Honey’ Chrome extension to find any active codes anytime you’re online shopping! Be sure to review any active subscriptions and cancel anything you don’t use. If you’re socialising with friends, try meeting up for a walk or have a coffee together at home, as this works out as a cheaper alternative but you still get a boost from time with your friend!
Tips for looking after your mental health
- Free self-care strategies: Small acts of self-care really add up and make a difference, and they definitely don’t have to cost anything! A short daily walk in the fresh air, a chat with a friend, breathing exercises, listening to music, or writing your thoughts in a notebook – these are all powerful strategies we can use to lower our stress and boost our mood. Pick a simple wellbeing habit like a daily walk and commit to each at a certain time, if you can, as having routine and structure can help your mental health too.
- Share how you’re feeling: When we feel stressed, anxious or low, we often tend to bottle it up and think ‘I just need to get on with it’. But this can lead us to feeling overwhelmed, scared and even at crisis point. In truth, speaking about how you’re feeling and how your mental health is, is really powerful. So have a chat with a trusted friend, family member or colleague or ring one of the brilliant mental health support lines if you find it easier speaking to somebody you don’t know.
The Samaritans are always there to listen 24/7 without judgement and the Mind Infoline can give you non-emergency advice. The CALM Helpline is for male mental health whilst, Young Minds Parents Helpline can give great advice if you’re worried about your child or a young person. If you’d rather text than talk; the Shout Crisis Text Line is available 24/7 too, and free on UK phone networks.
- Get organised and write it down: Writing things down can be a really useful way to provide headspace. Think of it as literally clearing a space in your brain! You could try writing down what you’re worried about, free-writing your thoughts or using journal prompts. Getting organised really helps your mental clairity, so make to-do lists and then prioritise the tasks with how important they are. This helps us avoid becoming overwhelmed. The best-selling product in my range of wellbeing-focused organising tools is a to-do list book, filled with self-care tips and wellbeing prompts, available here if you want some extra help.
- Get a free mental health plan from the NHS: By just answering 5 simple questions on the Every Mind Matters site, you will get your personalised mental health action plan with tips and advice to help you be kind to your mind. Plus, you can sign up to the 4-week email programme for reminders and to swap in new tips – and it’s all free.
- Improve your sleep: Our sleep is so important to how we feel, think and function. When we don’t get enough good quality sleep or rest, we can struggle to process emotions and feel heightened stress and worry. Before bed, try getting a simple routine in place. Try turning any bright lighting down, come off your phone (or at least change the light settings to reduce brain activity), and maybe have a warm shower or bath (not too hot or cold right before bed, as it re-activates your body). You could try writing in a journal if you’re worrying lots, or use a free guided meditation to help wind down.
Just having some small steps you take before bed can help quieten your thoughts and signal to your brain that it is time to get some sleep. Aside from sleep, having restful activities also helps us recharge our battery; so be sure to factor in something that relaxes you whenever you can.
Hopefully these mental health and finance support tips can really help support you with your financial wellbeing at this time.
You can follow Amber for more mental health tips on her Instagram (@working_well_) or sign up for her free newsetter here. The Working Well tools are available on Amazon here.
If you are looking for more help or services regarding your personal finances, click the links in the post or get in touch with us.