Tips to improve your financial and mental health this year

Looking after your mental health is just as important as looking after your physical health.

Mental illness will affect most of us at some point in our lives, even the most resilient, whether it’s fleeting or weighs us down for a long time.

Mental health issues can range from day-to-day pressures such as money worries to more serious conditions. Being able to recognise how you are feeling and learning how to implement steps to improve your mental health can be the determining factor in preventing these escalating into longer term issues.

The tips below will help you focus more on your wellbeing and reduce the risk of stress in the new year.

Tips for managing anxiety

Anxiety UK suggests practicing the "Apple" technique to help alleviate anxiety and worries:

  • Acknowledge: notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
  • Pause: don't react as you normally do. Don't react at all. Pause and breathe.
  • Pull back: tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don't believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.
  • Let go: let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don't have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.
  • Explore: explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else - on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry or do something else - mindfully with your full attention.

Source: Anxiety UK

Tips for tackling stress

Spot it: Signs or ‘red flags’

Different people respond to stress or pressure in very different ways. Look out for changes or patterns over time including changes in relationships, attitude and behaviour, and your overall health and wellbeing.

Tackling stress or pressure

Ways to reduce stress or pressure, or get extra support, could be:

  • Taking time for yourself by reviewing priorities and focusing on what’s important
  • Getting support from others
  • Putting a plan in place and keeping track of progress
  • Speaking to a GP or mental health first aider

Looking after your finances could help

Mental health is heavily linked to the state of one’s finances. Living in financial stress can lead to mental health problems and those who struggle with their mental health can find it difficult to cope with finances. There is a viscous circle that only worsens as time goes by.

According to the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute:

  • People with mental health problems are three and a half times as likely to be in problem debt
  • Mental health problems can make it harder to earn money, to manage spending and to get a fair deal on products and services
  • Over 100,000 people in England every year attempt to take their own life while struggling with problem debt.

As a society, we tend to avoid tricky topics of conversation, particularly when it comes to money. But carrying the financial burden alone is not the answer.

If you are struggling with your finances, it’s important to remember there are many people who are in the same position as you.

A good place to start is speaking to Government backed services such as MoneyHelper, or a charity such as StepChange or Citizens Advice, which can offer free support.

For some, speaking to a professional financial adviser might be the best option to help you make a long-term plan for your finances.

For further tips on how to manage your finances, read ‘How to take control of your finances with a yearly budget’.