How to optimise your wellbeing through the cost-of-living crisis
By Kathy Heath, CEO, Healthy Minds Club
Is the cost of living making you feel stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed? This is entirely normal, and we need to be conscious that we all face difficult times, and economic crisis impacts everyone in the community. Feeling uncertain about the future, loss of income, inability to pay bills, inflation, and unemployment are some key causes that affect our overall health. But, taking care of our mental and physical health is absolutely key in order to be resilient and successfully get through it.
A recent YouGov poll commissioned by the Royal College of Physicians found that 55% of people asked about the cost-of-living crisis felt rising costs had negatively affected their health. Moreover, the latest Inflation Nation report from the Yorkshire Building Society reports that more than 67% of adults are concerned by the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, with almost half (46%) reporting a deterioration in their mental health as a result.
Feeling down by money worries can negatively impact your sleep, self-esteem, and energy levels and your ability to interact with others. Some people may experience anxiety, depression, lack of sleep, and other conditions. Stress symptoms can have a negative effect on your body, mind, and your behavior leading to chronic stress. Chronic stress is a key contributor of long term physical and mental health issues.
Healthy Minds Club has pulled together some top tips to take care of your Financial, Physical & Mental wellbeing.
1. Review your fixed costs
Check all of your direct debits & standing orders. Are there any products or services that are no longer essential? Are there perhaps Direct Debits you were not even aware were there?
For any regular payments, can any of them be reduced? Often suppliers can be negotiated with in terms of overall costs or regular payments. Be careful not to cancel things on a whim – check the terms and conditions of notice periods required (e.g. gym) as you may be chased for the notice period.
2. Make a budget & do regular checks
Most of us have a finite amount of money every month, with costs spiralling, doing a budget on a simple spreadsheet will help us to feel in control. Make sure you include all essential spend as well as how you normally spend your disposable income.
Set budgets based on what you can afford. If you have other goals such as savings for a specific thing, security pot for a rainy day or holidays/trips, luxury items, set a realistic amount to be saved and put it consistently into a separate account.
Check against your budget on a weekly basis and adjust where needed. This will allow you to feel in control and to stay calm whilst potentially still having the things you want in life.
3. Set your financial goals
Even when times are hard, we still need financial goals. Maybe we want to pay off our mortgage or clear debts, or be financially free? In times of crisis, it might seem difficult to think about it but staying focussed on the end goal will ensure that your budgeting & your earnings align to this goal. It’s quite possible you might need some help with this but don’t hesitate to find a financial expert or advisor to help you to build out all the options to hit your goal.
4. Small savings make a big difference
At the supermarket, every £0.10-£0.20 you spend adds up across 100+ items. Question whether the items in your basket are really needed. We have gotten used to luxuries that perhaps are not too good for our physical or mental health. Swap them for cheaper options or cut them out completely. See it as a time to detox and that you are taking positive steps to take better care of yourself and your family. Or swap out treats to a monthly occurrence rather than every week.
5. Shop around
When it comes to buying anything, food, clothes try new shops, providers and suppliers and challenge everything you spent before. There are many discount retailers who are offering significant savings on shopping and luxury items.
Also consider charity shops for anything new that you need. Great bargains and brands can be found at significantly lower prices than the RRP and next to new.
6. Optimise your assets
Look at any items in your home that you could sell to get back some of your original investment. Children’s items that have been outgrown such as bikes, toys, good quality clothes, jewellery, furniture can all be sold on marketplaces. Some of which don’t charge any fees (e.g., Facebook marketplace) and with local collection you don’t even need to leave your home. Who doesn’t love a good declutter?
Take a look at any loyalty schemes you have got. Can you redeem any points, get discounts, or use any gift cards to purchase essential items or gifts? Ask your employer if there are any benefits that you could make use of for benefits and discounts.
Look around for money in your home. Loose change, savings pots – can you cash them in and put them towards something meaningful such as a household item, gift or Christmas?
7. Grow/make your own
Think about new hobbies that you can take up by yourself or with your family such as growing your own herbs or vegetables, making your own candles, artwork, clothes, woolly jumpers, gifts & greetings cards. You get the satisfaction of saving money but also creating something unique. When it comes to gifts & greetings cards, you will also create something very memorable indeed. A new hobby which helps us to relax and disconnect can be very good for our mental health.
8. Make do & Mend
If something breaks, don’t automatically throw it away. Google ways to fix, repair, upcycle it. You might create something completely unique and maybe something that could be resold for more money than you paid for it.
1. Good Nutrition
In difficult circumstances and with rising costs, make sure you pay attention to good nutrition which keeps you physically but also mentally healthy. Mental health is influenced by our nutrition so brain foods such as eggs and oily fish are very good for positive mental health. Eggs can be an inexpensive & nutritious source of mental energy and are highly versatile with lots of potential recipes.
Gut health also feeds quite significantly into our mood so having a diet which includes a good source of probiotics and gut friendly foods such as nuts and seeds can have a positive impact on your wellbeing. (https://healthymindsclub.com/blog/title/Taking-care-of-yourself-and-adopting-healthy-eating-habits)
2. Exercise & Connection with Nature
Connection with nature is a key pillar of resilience. Being outside and learning to be mindful of the trees, grass, fresh air, promotes positive wellbeing by being mindful of the beauty of nature, connection with the earth, and most importantly giving ourselves permission to take care of ourselves by disconnecting and being present in the moment. Regular disconnection in nature and meditation, helps us to keep an eye on the bigger picture of what’s important, keeps cortisol levels low and allows our body to perform at its best. If you can incorporate exercise – power walking or running into this, then you will notice how the natural endorphins and dopamine in your brain make you feel less tired, energised and positive overall. (https://healthymindsclub.com/blog/title/Deepen-your-relationship-with-the-natural-world)
3. Stay Hydrated
It costs very little to stay hydrated. Try to discipline yourself to drink 2 litres of water a day. A good way to track your usage is to carry a litre or 500ml bottle with you. If you have a 1 litre bottle, then drink 2 and if you have a 500ml bottle then drink 4! You could also set reminders on your phone. Good hydration allows the brain to continue to work properly, gives you more energy and motivation and will improve your mood.
1. Invest in you
Just like taking a break to exercise or get out into nature, taking the time to invest in our mental wellbeing could be the biggest investment you ever make. It is possible to map your mental health and create goals to build a resilience plan that works for you (this is our entire mission & vision!). We are quite comfortable with going to a spa and happy to invest time here which we absolutely advocate, however it will only treat the symptoms of your physical or mental wellbeing but investing in your mental health will help you to create your map your values, beliefs, propensity for stress, personality type to achieve your life goals and build your resilience plan.
Your brain is a muscle just like your body and if utilised well can help you to not only avoid stress, anxiety, or depression, can actually empower you to achieve great things. Try the Wheel of Life exercise today. Map your top 8 priorities in your life (Family, Work, Finances, Health, Relationships – whatever is important to you), and then write a goal against each one. Don’t think about if the goal is achievable just think best goal you could achieve. Following that, write down all the options to achieve that goal for each one. Once you have done that, assess what is realistic and which one you are willing to act on. At the end of the exercise, you should be left with a set of clear goals, and an action plan to achieve them. Focus on the top 3 and review it regularly. Oftentimes people need help to get to create this, coach them through their comfort zones, and most importantly someone to hold them accountable. A Life Coach is the perfect expert to help you with this. (https://healthymindsclub.com/blog/title/How-to-cultivate-a-healthy-mind)
Whether you have tried it or not before, give it a go. Like with most things effective meditation takes practice. There are a few ways you can use meditation to help you to manage stress or manifest your goals. The best way to start with meditation is to take 10 minutes with a body scan. You can do this at your desk. Close your eyes, and take a scan of your body starting with your toes. Pay attention to any tension and as you work through, start to release and relax the muscle. Do all of this taking very deep breaths inside and out through your belly. After 10 minutes you will notice that you feel calmer, less tense and stressed, ready to face the world. Meditation is also a fantastic way to manifest and visualise your goals! (https://healthymindsclub.com/blog/title/How-to-introduce-the-habit-of-Meditating)
3. Help others
Offering and lending a hand to help others who need support with food or budgeting, gives us perspective, enables us to be grateful for what we’ve got but also may inspire us to think of new ways to optimise, economise or just feel more grateful about our lives and happy and content in general.
For more information, help or support go to Healthy Minds Club and make exclusive use of a 10% discount using the code: 10OPTWELL