Financial stress & managing your mental health


Are you experiencing financial stress? Psychologist Dr Bec Jackson gives us her practical tips and advice to regain control and look after your mental and physical health.

If you have financial worries right now, you are not alone.

Australia has been going through an unprecedentedly difficult time in recent years – due to the pandemic, natural disasters, interest rate rises and inflation, many families are having a very difficult time financially.

As a professional, I can confirm that the stress and depression we experience from financial worries can have a further impact on your income directly if we don’t recognize it and try to work through it.

People may engage in unhealthy behaviors to try to cope with financial stress, from avoidance to overeating, to excessive online shopping and drinking more alcohol, which in turn can worsen mental health and finances.” Says psychologist Dr Bec Jackson.

Although it may feel overwhelming at the moment, there are some practical and helpful steps you can take to help manage your finances, which in turn will protect your mental and physical health and make you feel more in control and in will be able to tackle everyday life challenges. .

Family walks to cope with stress
family walks to deal with stress

Here are some practical ways to manage your mental health in times of financial stress

Acknowledge feelings rather than bottling things up:

You may feel any number of emotions right now, and that’s okay.

It is important to acknowledge the financial problems and hardships you have experienced and acknowledge your feelings about them,” says Dr. Bec.

Bottling up feelings and ‘hugging the suck’ or trying to block feelings by telling yourself ‘others have it worse’ can get in the way of moving forward.

Acknowledging your financial situation and your feelings of stress is the first step to taking action and finding light at the end of the tunnel.

Liana Mikah 6KRmH6k3Rdk Unsplash
financial stress management

Share your worries with the people you trust

Talk about your financial concerns with your support network, and they may be able to offer a new perspective or ideas for getting through this difficult time. A problem shared is often a problem halved.

You don’t have to go into sensitive details if you’re not comfortable doing so, but for some, just talking about your general concerns can improve your negative feelings, says Dr. Bec.

If you have children, reassure them

Children can often pick up when their parents are under high levels of stress and may begin to internalize behaviors (such as anxiety) or externalizing behaviors (such as aggression or misbehavior).

Have age-appropriate conversations to assure them that their basic needs will be met. Say things like, ‘It’s nothing to worry about. This is my job as an adult. I work hard to make sure we have what we need’,” says dr Bec.

It goes without saying, but taking steps to reduce unnecessary spending will help you tremendously… as spending less will help you feel more in control.

reassuring your children during times of financial stress
reassuring your children during times of financial stress

Don’t neglect your income. When it comes to making extra cash, the sharing economy offers many opportunities. You might decide to rent out your spare room, car share or pet sit to boost the money coming in.

Monitor what you are currently spending your money and spending habits and work out some practical ways you can temporarily cut back on expenses and save money.

Spend time checking any direct debits you have, memberships, insurances and phone plans. Ask for offers and other options. Sometimes these things are ‘set and forget’, but we don’t review them enough.

Set a realistic budget for family living expenses such as groceries. Meal plan using the budget meal planner in The Healthy Mummy app. Cook budget meals in bulk and freeze meals.

You still need to have fun, so explore free entertainment in your local area, and visit as many community activities as you can. Try not to give up on enjoyable activities or having fun. Just rethink how you finance them.

Where possible, avoid ‘buy now pay later’ models as they may charge high interest.

Get creative and consider a clothes swap party with friends, try a game and toy swap with other families, puzzle or game trading, and visit toy libraries and community book libraries.

free entertainment
free entertainment

Practical and professional financial support is available to all of us.

Consult a financial advisor

If you need support in managing your immediate debt, you can talk to a financial counselor, who can help you find a solution to your financial issues.

There are also Australian government and charities that provide free confidential financial counseling and advice if you are experiencing financial stress:

Seek help

Organizations such as The Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul and local community centers offer relief services to help with food vouchers or parcels, transport vouchers, pharmacy vouchers, clothes or furniture, school fees and even partial payment of utility bills. to help with household financial pressures.

“It can be difficult to ask for support, but remember that this time will pass, and these organizations exist to help people get through difficult times,” says Dr. Bec.

Things that can suffer when you are dealing with financial stress

seek help in times of financial stress
seek help in times of financial stress

Look at your mental health

The sooner you recognize that you need to break the cycle between financial struggle and emotional struggle, the more likely you are to work on poor mental health and get things back under control.

Make a plan with your partner

Financial stress can put a strain on relationships, but it can be helpful to tackle the problem as a team.

Multiple parties are responsible for spending, earning or managing money,” says Dr. Bec.

Try to put together a budget and an allowance to spend separately within your available means.

Have any rules about spending that you can both agree on. Remember that managing your own mood swings and discussing money issues when you’re both calm will help you have more constructive conversations.

Knowing that you are in the situation together and united to find a solution can be powerful for relationships.

Manage your mood

Maintaining a calm and balanced mood is positive for your physical and mental health, but also allows you to be rational and practical even when a situation is difficult.

Meditation, exercise, talking out, journaling and sleep are all good places to start,” suggests Dr Bec.

You are not alone. You can speak to a financial advisor for free through the National Debt Helpline at 1800 007 007, says Dr Bec.

In the meantime, it may also be worth talking to your GP about getting a counselor to help you organize your emotions if you feel helpless and depressed about money matters.

Give yourself permission to be positive

Make a plan and try to stick to it, and try to be positive! Often, when we are down in the dumps, it can feel difficult to pull ourselves out of it. To stay positive, focus on the areas of your finances that you CAN control and build on these feelings of control and on the things that bring you joy – your family, pets and simple pleasures.

For more great family budgeting tips, check out The Healthy Mummy Budget Hub, your place for budget-friendly tips, tricks and deals from The Healthy Mummy Budget Squad.

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