Written by Zandile Chiwanza
Tuesday, May 31st, 2022
Despite having faced my fair share of financial challenges such as job loss, debt, and medical emergencies, nothing could've prepared me for the impact COVID-19 had on my mental health and wellness.
And I'm not alone. According to the 2021 Financial Stress Index, more than 51% of Canadians they have lost sleep over money concerns.
Here are a few practical tips that helped me navigate unexpected events and better plan for my future:
Let Go of Past Mistakes
Everyone makes money mistakes, including me. But now is not the time to lament over what you could or couldn't have done to be in a better financial position. Make peace with the decisions you've made to be able to move forward.
Manage Your Mindset
Before you're able to identify how your mental health is being affected by your finances, you'll have to recognize your feelings. People who are experiencing financial difficulties often feel frustrated, judged, and ashamed. Allow yourself to explore where these emotions are coming from.
Ask for Help From Others
If depression or anxiety has set in, it can be difficult to muster the energy or the motivation to handle financial distress. It can even be hard to call your lenders to ask your options or reach out to a professional for further assistance.
Start with a friend or family member that you trust. Even if they're not qualified to offer you financial advice, talking through your emotions can help to gain more perspective and ease any financial anxiety you may be experiencing.
Talk to a Mental Health Professional
If you're employed, don't forget to look into your benefits at work, so you know how much you can spend on therapy services per year. If you're on a tight budget, you can also look for providers that offer their services on a sliding scale. That means you can ask them for a lower fee.
If you can't afford therapy at all right now, there are free and accessible community counselling services in every province in Canada.
Check your local psychological association's website for more information on what accessible or affordable resources are available through public funding and private practice practitioners. For instance, The Mental Health Commission of Canada developed a tip sheet for managing financial stress.
Review Your Personal Finance Goals
When it comes to personal finance, some things are unforeseen. But there are also regular expenses that we know are coming.
“As wince-worthy as it can be to open up statements and look at what you own and what you owe, it's hard to solve any problem if you don't have a sense of where you stand financially and what options are available to you," says Dr. Moira Somers, a financial psychologist and a family wealth consultant.
“There will be Christmas. There will be a birthday. There will be an insurance bill."
Try to start planning ahead of time for purchases that aren't always monthly expenses, but that come around, nevertheless.
Show Yourself Some Grace
When I focus on all the things I can't control, I've noticed that I feel overwhelmed, and that's when I start to feel discouraged and lose control of my finances. When I take a step back and recognize that financial recovery doesn't happen overnight, that helps ease my financial worry.
None of us can predict the future, so even if you're in a better financial position right now, there's still an opportunity to develop a better understanding of your relationship with money. Keep this article in mind whenever you're faced with a financial challenge or use it as a starting point to improve your overall financial health and wellness.