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?

To state the obvious: 2020 is no easy year

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. I stop trying and keep spending. You can see how this plays out: I throw up my hands and give up sticking to a plan.

But there are ways to stay clear of that spiral.

Why talking about this is so important

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.

A word to anyone who’s not that keen on sharing: this sort of thing doesn’t always come naturally. We might prefer to forge ahead on our own.

Keep in mind, though – talking also lets us hear ourselves better, helps us understand what we’re thinking and feeling, and why. It’s a good thing.

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. Don’t forget to treat yourself kindly, like you would a friend, in a reassuring and encouraging way.

Time to dial up your wellbeing

Mental Health Awareness Week is here to help us collectively focus. The overall idea this year is He tirohanga anamata – to reimagine our wellbeing together, rediscovering and redefining what that looks like.

One of the themes is ‘Recharge with others – Whiria te muka tangata’. Perhaps it’s time to start a conversation about money with someone you trust. This could be about something challenging, or a goal you’d like to tackle together.

Another is ‘Refresh your mind – Whāngaia tō hinengaro’. Wouldn’t it be great to take an entirely fresh look at your money situation? You might find gains, for example, that you never uncovered before. It’s a chance to reset money habits, and might even be time for a brand new money plan.

More tips for your wellbeing

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 21–27 September 2020.

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