October is Mental Health Awareness Month around the world, and we are using this focus to shine a light on the impact our mental health can have on our finances. There’s a lot more to this topic than you might think!
We like to think different aspects of our lives play out separately and have nothing to do with each other. The link between mental health and finances, however, proves just how wrong this thinking is.
On the one hand, money has the potential to generate a tremendous amount of stress. And as we all know, when stress enters the picture our mental wellbeing usually suffers. On the other, poor mental health can worsen, or even lead to, financial difficulties. Let’s take a closer look at how this could play out.
When you’re battling depression, or even just feeling “blue”, managing your finances could feel like an uphill battle. The motivation to handle money might be in short supply, making it seem like it’s not even worth the effort.
Sometimes, spending money can provide a fleeting sense of happiness. Therefore, when you’re down, you might buy stuff to feel better only to end up spending money you don’t have, or spending money that was meant for one thing, such as school fees, on something else.
People who go through big mood swings often make financial decisions without thinking them through – either when they are feeling very good or very bad about life. Online shopping is a big danger here, especially late at night when there’s nobody to talk to. This is never a good idea and almost always lead to regret.
When you struggle to concentrate at work – or even just to get to work – it will have a direct impact on your income, making it harder to make ends meet. In extreme cases, you could even lose your job.
Avoiding money-related tasks
If you feel too sad or angry or lonely or hopeless to check your bank statements or pay your bills, you will end up in financial trouble.
Mental health struggles can lead to other health problems, such as losing or picking up too much weight, which are likely to increase your medical bills – and put your finances under even more pressure.
At Bayport we are not mental-health experts, but here are some tips you can consider to improve your mental health and, as a result, your finances too:
- Ask for help. There are so many resources available these days that nobody has to struggle with mental health on their own:
- If your company has an employee wellness programme, make use of the support if offers.
- Contact the South African Federation for Mental Health to find a mental health
organisation in your community: www.safmh.org / email@example.com / 086 558 6909.
- Contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) for support: www.sadag.org.
- Talk to your spiritual or religious adviser; most churches offer mental health support in some way.
- Talk to a friend or family member you trust.
- Get some exercise. Even if you just go for a walk, moving your body is a great way to deal with stress.
- Eat as well as you can. Try to eat less sweets and snacks and more fruit and vegetables. Drink more water and less cold drinks.
- Help yourself to sleep better. Go to bed earlier, switch off your screens at least an hour
before bedtime, calm your mind by reading a good book.
- Make an effort to socialise. See your friends or your favourite family members, or make an effort to talk to the cashier in the store when you do your shopping.
- Have some fun. Finding joy in your life will help to keep you happy and healthy.