It’s Mental Health Awareness Week. With all that’s going on, how can we stay upbeat, feel good and keep well – including financially well – both now and in the future?

This year’s theme is ‘Take time to kōrero / Mā te kōrero, ka ora’ – to meet up, communicate, have a chat. We all need to talk, listen, be there for each other and feel connected.

That’s not always easy and may not come naturally. Keep in mind, though that talking also lets us hear ourselves better – it helps us understand what we’re thinking and feeling, and why. It’s a good thing.

When it’s time to talk

If you’re feeling a bit low, not sleeping or eating well, or if people around you are asking ‘Are you okay?’ a bit more than usual, it’s time to get help, to turn to someone you can trust.

When you go through something, you can find your close circle of friends and whānau starts shrinking, becoming smaller and smaller as you turn inwards and reach out to fewer people. To avoid this, stay as social as you can.

Beyond talking to others, how you talk to yourself is important too. Voices in our heads can be harsh! Don’t forget to treat yourself kindly, like you would a friend, in a reassuring and encouraging way.

To state the obvious: this is not an easy time

The cluster of stuff brought on by COVID-19 has disrupted many things: you may have faced reduced hours, a pay cut or even redundancy.

You may find yourself throwing up your hands and just leaving tomorrow to work itself out. Why strive for a future when it’s out of focus?

We get that.

Remember, none of this is your fault. Those of us out of work, for example, are not in this predicament because we aren’t good at working! It just played out that way. A temporary setback, for sure.

How best to get things back on track?

Tukua mai te aronui, kia manawanui, kia manawaroa

Give me the focus to be determined and resilient

Waiho noa a manawarau, kia puāwai mai ko manawa ora

Leave all distractions behind, so that wellbeing can flourish

Mental and financial wellness are so interconnected

It can turn into a spiral: managing money can make us stressed, and that stress then makes it harder to manage our money. Which makes us even more anxious…

Say I make a budget, then veer off track a bit. I feel a bit guilty, spend a bit more to feel better, then feel even more guilty. So I stop trying and keep spending. You can see how this plays out: I throw up my hands and give up sticking to my plan.

But there are ways to stay clear of that spiral. Here are some key tips:

Focus on the things you can control. 

Just as there is always at least one thing you can do to improve your situation, that’s true for sorting your money too. Tracking your expenses a bit more closely, for instance, is something you can do to feel in control.

Chunk it down. 

The small wins count. With money, for instance, a single dollar saved and set aside for a future goal is a win, after all.

Talk about it.

Everyone needs someone they can simply turn to and say, “Can I ask you something?” With money, it’s no different. We all can use judgement-free, honest, practical answers.

Keep moving. 

We can’t overstate the positive role of exercise here – it’s amazing how helpful it can be to our wellbeing.

Remember, it’s all part of a longer journey. 

Think of what you’re going through like you would an injury – you will heal and recover.

Expert help is available

If you (or someone you are close to) is suffering from financial stress and anxiety, call your GP. They can assess where you’re at and refer you to a specialist if need be.

Or text 1737 at any time to get free support from a trained counsellor.

There are also these great resources:

It’s been quite a time, so it’s okay to feel low, angry or frustrated – that’s normal and understandable. Just know that you’re not alone and support is out there.

Mental Health Awareness Week runs 27 September–3 October 2021.


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