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The impact of financial stress on our health cannot be ignored.
At Action Mental Health, we know full well that the past 18 months have left people facing increased pressure around money and employment. And unless addressed, it’s this pressure that can begin to have an effect on our mental health in many different ways.
For almost 60 years, we’ve been dedicated to promoting the mental health and wellbeing of people across Northern Ireland and believe that the most important investment you can make is towards your mental health.
Therefore, as part of Northern Ireland Savings Week 2021, we have shared some important advice on ways to support your mental health and wellbeing. To help you ease financial stress and find a better balance between money and mind.
Get up at your normal time and stick to your usual routine. If you lose your routine, it can affect your eating – you may stop cooking, skip breakfast because you're out of routine, or snack instead of eating proper nutritious meals. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day, and perhaps consider writing a list of small tasks you’d like to achieve each week. And as difficult as it can be when money is tight, create a budget and keep a close eye on it. Before long, you’ll feel more in control of your life admin.
Daily exercise, both physical and mental, can have such a positive influence on our emotional wellbeing. While it can be difficult, try to dedicate time to seeing your friends, dabble in a new hobby or pastime, and try to keep paying the bills. If you can’t, seek professional advice from a trusted organisation such as The Consumer Council or Advice NI.
If you find yourself with more spare time, consider trying a new form of exercise or a new sport, exercising and doing some sort of physical activity – even if it’s just a lunchtime walk – exercise is a brilliant way of improving your mood when you're feeling low. If the weather’s against you, swap a lunchtime run for a brain teaser or puzzle. And try reaching for a book instead of your phone.
When people feel anxious, they sometimes avoid talking to others, and try to hide away from their problems. Some people can even lose their confidence for driving, leaving the house or travelling. If this starts to happen, reaching out for help - seeking the support of family or friends will generally make it easier to face the challenges.
For example, if you're going into debt, get advice on how to prioritise your debts, ask for help and support from a professional and open up to someone you trust. As the saying goes ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’.
For some people with money worries, negative coping behaviours such as drinking alcohol can become a problem. If you find yourself drinking more than usual as a way of dealing with emotions, seek help or speak to someone you trust. Try to replace these negative coping behaviours with more positive activities such as exercise and self-care.
We all go through difficult life events and experiences, yet as a society we are very good at helping others around us, and most people are very understanding when a friend or a family member is feeling down or low. We need to remember that it’s ok to seek help when we need that little bit of extra support in our lives.
Please remember there are lots of sources of support and advice for the many challenges we face throughout life, including worries about our finances and our mental health.
If you are worried about your mental health you should speak to your GP. They can advise on appropriate support that is available in your local area. If you are in crisis or distress please call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000, specially trained counsellors are available 24/7.
You can also find other sources of support and information on our services on our website:
There are a range of organisations that can help with money worries. You can find out more on the links below:
We’d love to talk you through the mortgage process and help you find a suitable product. For more information or to apply for an account, you can call us, email us, pop into one of our 11 branches. We look forward to hearing from you.