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Cost of living crisis and mental health

The rising costs of essential goods and services can make it difficult for individuals and families to afford daily necessities, leading to financial stress and insecurity, negatively impacting mental health, particularly those on a lower income.

Our basic needs are challenged more than ever!

o Job insecurity

o Income insecurity.

o Housing insecurity.

o Health insecurity.

o Social insecurity.

o Family insecurity, especially for children.

When we experience anxiety and depression, we enter a downward spiral where we refuse to face our problems. We feel less motivated to work. Bills go unpaid. We comfort-spend to feel better, adding to debt. We turn to alcohol and other addictions. Home life collapses and children are neglected. Keep a diary of your spending and your mood by recording what you spend and why. You can record how you were feeling before and afterwards too.

How many points below can you relate to?

o You may be extreme in your reaction to financial stress, swinging from controlling every penny to impulse spending.

o Perhaps you need to display wealth you don’t have to feel accepted by your peers?

o You depend financially on others but, if they struggle, you may feel like a burden and not have the confidence to work to help the family’s finances.

o Excessive social media use: comparing yourself to others on Instagram can make you feel worse about yourself.

o You have your head in the sand by avoiding financial responsibility. Bills build up and you feel increasingly out of control, heading to anxiety and panic. Notice if you are likely to withdraw and unable to ask for help.

Remember the lock-down mindset?

Lockdown helped us face what really is important and meaningful. What did we learn to make us more resilient in this cost-of-living crisis?

1. Stay active. Don’t give up on day-to-day self-care. Small acts of control add up to give you a sense of competence. Learn to cook, keep your place clean, exercise regularly, refine your work skills or learn a new skill.

2. Communities can pull together eager to help each other. Social connections are a crucial source of support and can help to reduce loneliness and shame around money management.

3. Talk to your family and friends, make financial plans together, have a vision for the kind of life you want.

4. Asking for and receiving help joyfully brings people together so that everyone benefits, not just the person asking. Offer to barter your support and skills with family, friends and neighbourhood.

5. The most common response from people in debt, when they finally ask banks and organisations for help is relief, and they wish they did it earlier. Some councils are providing support for people struggling with the cost of living.

6. Employers are increasingly sensitive to the cost-of-living crisis on their staff. Good employers understand that, by looking after them, they will receive loyalty and productivity in return. Power to Live Foundation is now delivering workshops to staff and company managers on how to manage the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on staff mental health.

7. We are at our best when we have a social purpose. Use social media to arrange meet-ups at heat banks such as libraries, social centres, and large coffee shops. This can benefit the elderly and parents with young children alone at home. Perhaps alternate visits to friends once a week to feel happier and save energy? Nextdoor is a wonderful app to ask for help. I have seen neighbourhoods pull together to help organise and fund a dinner for people who felt isolated and struggling financially.

8. What simple pleasures did you discover over lockdown when you couldn’t spend money? Bring these activities back into your life.

If you struggle with mental health issues, it can be helpful to reach out for support. Talk to a trusted friend or family member, seeking support from a mental health professional or joining a support group. Power to live Foundation is a charity that offers low-cost behavioural therapy that focuses on helping you take back control of your life.

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