This week, we’re celebrating world mental health day (10th October, to be exact)!
While 2020’s certainly been rough on our mental state, we think it’s about time to talk openly about the one stressful thing that affects anyone regardless of their age, race or religion – money.
Of course, we’re not talking about having too much money. When it comes to money and stress, it’s most certainly about the lack of money that’s putting pressure on your mental health.
At BigPay, we’re all about making smart decisions about money and your financial wellbeing. This week, let’s talk about the 3 signs of money stress and what you can do to manage it effectively.
Money stress sign #1: Losing your inner drive
There will be days when you dread getting up and going to work. It could be due to deadlines, having a bad night's sleep or just a general feeling of needing a break from work.
Bouts of these once in a while are perfectly normal, even for us at BigPay!
Losing your inner drive due to money stress, however, brings your energy levels down on a whole other scale - it robs you of the will to enjoy even the smallest of things.
If thinking about money gives you trouble getting out of bed even after a good night’s sleep, or finding the energy to enjoy the things you previously liked, it’s a good indicator that it’s weighing more heavily on your mental health than you thought!
Money stress sign #2: Losing your sense of self-worth
We all have our moments of self-doubt and lapses of confidence - it happens to the best of us.
But in our hyper-competitive society today, a person’s self-worth is often pegged to one’s salary or one’s bank account.
Let’s face it - how many of us started our career with the goal of earning 10-figure salaries by the time we’re 30?
Once the inevitable reality of the working world catches on, it can be harsh to accept that the imagined life ahead of you isn’t as rosy as you thought.
So, if you’ve found yourself feeling deflated because of your financial standing and withdrawing from networking with your peers, attending social events or even romantic interests, it’s a sure-fire sign of your finances affecting your mental health!
Money stress sign #3: Losing hope and sense of control
The least obvious of all signs of money stress is the feeling of hopelessness and loss of control over your life.
It could stem from never having enough money to pay your bills on time, or not seeing a possible way of saving for your first house.
Whether it’s due to debt or insufficient income, this is often coupled with a sense of dread and feeling as nothing you do moves the needle.
The danger of this is that this is often masked by ordinary daily behaviour and emotions - you seem to be functional on the outside, but there’s an internal struggle that’s unseen from an outside point of view. It’s also a surefire sign of persistent depressive disorder.
This stress indicator is also often paired with a coping mechanism to deal with such emotions, from drastic weight gain or loss due to overeating or loss of appetite to an increase in self-sabotaging habits of smoking or substance abuse.
What can you do to address the stress caused by money?
First, talk about it
It might sound like a trivial way to relieve your financial stress, but talking about stress has been proven to help alleviate stress! If you’re looking for emotional support, here are a few free helplines to consider:
KL: 03-7956 8145 (24 hours)
Ipoh: 05-547 7933 (4pm to 11pm)
Penang: 04-281 5161 (3pm to midnight)
Singapore Association For Mental Health
Face the pain and make a plan
The first step to solving any problem is recognising there is one.
It might be highly distressing or tedious, but getting into the nitty-gritty details of your financial situation is an undoubtedly necessary first step to lifting your mental health.
List down debts, both the good and bad and its relevant interest rates.
Make a list of the people who you might owe money to.
Track your spending meticulously, from the broad categories down to every cent.
And lastly, create an action plan to deal with your money problems- i.e. starting with a 50/30/20 budget.
Of course, you should tailor it to your own situation! You could start with a smaller portion of savings to pay down debt, and then gradually increase your proportion of savings over time!
Realise that a true friend sees you as more than your money
There’s no avoiding the effect of peer pressure on financial stress, especially if you’re in your 30s where your identity banks heavily on your salary and job title.
That’s why it’s natural for those in their 30s to load up on bad debt in pursuit of cars, watches, jewellery or other purchases for the simple reason of keeping up with the neighbourhood Kardashians!
While we’re not professionals when it comes to cultivating friendships, it’s good to remember a universal truth - a true friend sticks with you at both your best and worst.
Those who distance themselves from you because of your financial difficulties? Forget them - they’re not worth your friendship!
Rethink what money means to you personally
Your self-worth is not your net worth.
Repeat - your self-worth is not your net worth!
In fact, rethinking your relationship with money, or how money defines who you are is a key milestone of balancing financial wellbeing and mental health.
Of course, money is essential in life - but it is merely the means to an end, not the end goal itself! In other words, money itself doesn’t generate happiness - it’s what you do with your money that counts.
Perhaps it’s time to think about yourself as what you do with your money, instead of how much money you have!
All in all, while money can’t objectively buy happiness, it does buy stability, comfort and a decent degree of positive mental health!
If you’re affected by financial stress on your mental health, please
Let us know what you’d like to read more about in the comments below for our next piece on BigPay’s #LetsTalkMoney series!
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