It’s safe to say that 2020 has been a challenging year for us all. From turbulent weather to an unyielding pandemic which resulted in economic turmoil worldwide, the events of this year have meant big changes in our day-to-day lives. These changes and adjustments can have a significant impact on our emotional and mental well-being. The reality is that consideration of your mental health needs to be at the forefront of everything you do. This is so because of the direct impact it can have on various aspects of your life, including your finances.

It’s almost like a cycle; not feeling good can make earning and managing money harder, and at the same time worrying about money can make you feel worse; it can be paralysing. So instead of worrying, let’s focus on planning ahead and the simple ways you can be more mindful of your mental well-being.

Before I dive into my suggestions I want to highlight that without health, your wealth will deteriorate. Sometimes the way we feel or respond to a certain situation will have physical manifestations on our bodies. Depression has often been linked to financial distress. Being mindful is important as you continue to care for your mental well-being.

Setting aside time to take stock of your finances is important. For those who have experienced job loss or a reduction in salary, their financial situation may be significantly affected. Try not to get overwhelmed or put off tasks. Instead, start with a small list of tasks to be done and the available resources you may have at hand to improve your finances or carry you through this season. It’s always best to tackle one issue at a time — do less and do it well. A financial advisor may be able to help you with this; having someone in your corner helping you sift through your finances can grant massive relief to your mind. The 21-Day Financial Fast by Michelle Singletary has advice that you can incorporate into your daily life. Surprisingly, just putting away my debit card has proven effective; it’s just so easy to swipe. I can’t say I followed her advice completely during the 21 days (it was hard) but I found it beneficial.

If you fail to plan, plan to fail, according to Benjamin Franklin, so create a road map starting from where you are to where you want to go. Having a plan for your life can start as simply as setting a daily structure and building on that. Try to have a top three. A list that is too long often becomes daunting and adds stress and anxiety. The list will help mitigate feelings of pressure. If you’re not careful, this pressure and anxiety can bubble over and start affecting your relationship with your children, partner and other family members. It’s important to consider how they might be feeling during this time. Have open and honest conversations with them once you’ve outlined your plans and mapped your way forward. Additionally, while you’re planning ahead don’t be afraid to speak to a financial advisor about creating a rainy day fund for future times of crisis or building on your future goals. Putting away 15-30% of your salary for savings and investing may not be possible given the current economic climate, but it’s possible that they may see opportunities that you haven’t.

To cultivate an atmosphere of positive thinking I encourage you to create a space within your home that makes you feel calm, relaxed and happy. The path of future visualisation can be bumpy but we must see life on the other side of our current situations in order to change our current mindset. If you can convert your visions into goals and your goals into specific activities or actions, you can avoid feeling stuck.

In addition to these things, we need to take care of our bodies by getting adequate sleep, exercising and eating healthy. It may be difficult to socialise in the way that we’re used to, but reach out to your support systems for a Zoom call or a phone call; sending voice recordings is also a great route. My favourite is the art of letter writing. I have recently discovered a few of my grandmother’s postcards and letters to loved ones and thought I will only leave behind e-mails, meme and Whatsapp messages. Call your loved ones; it’s important that you hear the person’s voice on the other end. I also recommend engaging in leisure activities even when you don’t feel like it. All of these activities will help you cultivate a more positive mindset and enable you to better care for your financial well-being.

If you’re struggling with mental health, don’t hesitate to get help. You might start by talking to your doctor to rule out any physical health issues that could be behind your symptoms. Then you might try talking to a therapist who can help you identify concrete strategies for feeling better.

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