Money and our mental health

A look into the connection between your money and your mental health.

Money is a defining factor of our mental health, considerably now more than ever, given the economic landscape created by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The American Psychology Association study in 2021 aptly named “Stress in America”, money was found to be ranked 2nd amongst Americans as a major stressor. It is no surprise to most that money is on this list. What’s surprising is the direct relationship between our mental health and money. 

Sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint what’s making you feel a certain way. Here are some everyday situations that will help you identify if your mental health decline is attached to your finances:

  • Opening your bank account and statements or paying for something triggers feelings of anxiety and panic

  • You’re losing sleep over money problems

  • You might be unable to afford wellness items like therapy, medication, heating, or other essentials.

  • Your social life and relationships are beginning to suffer. You may feel isolated or lonely, possibly due to not being able to afford social outings.

The Impact Of Debt

Did you know that current estimates put American Mortgage debt at a valuation of $9.4 trillion? Australia’s GDP - essentially their worth - is only $1.3 trillion. Sadly, Mortgages aren’t the only debt facing millions of Americans, here are a few others:

  • Credit Cards: $1.08 trillion

  • Student Loans: $1.75 trillion*

  • Car Loans: $1.3 trillion

Mental health issues can affect our ability to efficiently manage debt, even if the root of the mental illness is the debt itself. Debt can often evoke strong emotions of embarrassment, guilt, and grieving, which are further intensified depending on the debt's size and the debt's lifetime. 

Tips on controlling your money mental health

  • Budget to beat the blues

Try to take the stress off your shoulders by using a budget. Take some time to sit down and plan your pay cycle. Restricting spending and knowing your income will help you prepare for whatever life throws at you. If you don’t have time on your hands, hand the hassle over to an app like Douugh.

  • Rest, Recover, Reset

Your mind needs rest and recovery just like your body does. Getting too much or too little sleep can be destructive to your mental health. 7-8 hours each night is the perfect balance that will help you improve your overall quality of life. 

Besides fixing your sleep schedule, try to carve time out of every day to allow yourself freedom from the stress of money. Whether it’s meditation, reading, or cooking, set a schedule of time where money doesn’t exist to allow your brain to get a much-needed break. Don’t forget to reset. Each new pay cycle means new beginnings, so don’t keep beating yourself up over financial decisions made in the past. Simply find a solution if it needs one, and work towards it as best as possible. Hot tip: try a free meditation app like Calm to help relax and unwind.

  • Move like you move your money

Ok, we know we just said you need rest and recovery. But exercise is a key component to managing your mental wellbeing. You don’t have to do anything crazy if you don’t want to; make simple swaps in your day-to-day schedule that will get your body moving and your blood pumping. Try walking to the shops instead of driving, or follow a youtube yoga tutorial from the comfort of your home. Anything to help and provide a much-needed distraction from the world's chaos. Hot tip: try a free workout app like the Nike Training Club to help you get moving each and every day.

  • Share your struggles

Your burdens aren’t just for you to bear. Humans are naturally sociable creatures; spending time with those closest to you will help stabilize your mental health. Talk to them if you're feeling a little down or not feeling like yourself. Those who love you want to help you no matter what, and sharing the stress of your life will instantly take a weight off your chest. 

  • Get a lending hand from a pro

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you're struggling. A market exists for financial professionals because everyone needs a little help with their finances at some point in their life. A financial advisor will give you expert advice and access to deal with money problems. They’ll help you manage your budget and plan how to become financially healthier in the future. If you feel your mental health is declining beyond the point of your control, reach out to a healthcare professional to discuss the next steps forward. If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call 911, go to the nearest emergency room, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center or text MHA to 741741 at the Crisis Text Line.

Getting started

Understanding the link between mental health and money will help you out if you're struggling. The thought of sorting things out might seem like an overwhelming task - and lots of items may be out of your control - but try taking things one step at a time. 

Reduce your financial stress.