Money problems don’t only affect your pocket. It also affects your emotional, physical and mental health, and can even lead to alcoholism or substance abuse.
There has been a huge increase in the number of people experiencing mental health issues like anxiety and depression since the pandemic hit, and there is no shame in acknowledging that you are not coping.
Most of us stress about money at some time in our lives, and we almost always seem to keep our head above water, but Covid-19 really klapped us.
Where we might have been thinking about our money and debt a few times a week, I am sure lately, there are many people who have had tons of sleepless nights and tossed and turned over a lack of money.
When financial stress is severe, worrying about it can lead to physical symptoms like a lack of concentration, headaches and stomach problems, and you may find yourself withdrawing from family and friends.
It might even get to the point where you can’t get out of bed and you may experience panic attacks and anxiety attacks.
It can feel like the world is literally closing in on you.
When it gets to this point, it is best to talk to a healthcare professional.
Sadly, there is still a stigma attached to mental health issues and this stops people from seeking help.
I can’t promise to eradicate your money problems, but here are some tips that can help you get your personal finances into a better position and alleviate the strain and stress:
Get out of denial: Burying your head in the sand won’t help the situation. In fact, with matters involving legal action, time is of the essence and the sooner you acknowledge your situation, the better.
You are not alone: Whether it is a loss of or reduction in income, increased workload, change in children’s school schedule, paranoia about getting ill, pressure to take (or not take) the vaccine, everyone is fighting their own battles. It is important to realise that you are not the only one in a bad space right now.
It’s OK to not be OK: Hou die blink kant bo is something that we know all too well how to do. We have been conditioned to put on a brave face and be strong even when we are falling apart. However, this approach doesn’t always yield the best results. It’s OK to not be OK, and acknowledging that things are tough right now does not mean you are a failure. It simply means that you have problems that you need to find solutions to. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Reach out and talk to someone: If you have access to a health professional, counsellor or life coach, then speak to them. If not, speak to someone in your circle who you can trust. Verbalising your distress can lighten your load, and may be just what you need.
Liaise with your creditors and people you owe money to: One of the worst things you can do is to avoid your creditors. This will only lead to further hounding by debt collectors and probably legal action. By avoiding friends and family who you owe money to, you could seriously damage relationships that matter. If you don’t feel confident enough to speak to your creditors, get a registered debt counsellor to assist you.
Make the effort to know your rights: South Africans have rights as consumers and debtors through legislation within the Consumer Protection Act and the National Credit Act. Make the effort to become as financially informed as possible.
Focus on good health, gratitude and spirituality: Sometimes we can become so overwhelmed by our problems that we don’t see the positive in our situation or acknowledge our options.
Set aside the time to practice some simple breathing exercises, take a walk, go for a swim, heighten your levels of faith and spirituality, and focus on the blessings of good health, a roof over your head, food in your cupboards, friends, family and income.
Mental health issues are as real as physical ones. When coupled with financial problems, it can lead to a vicious cycle and ultimately a downward spiral.
Watch out for anxiety, depression and other metal health issues in yourself and in those around you.
Here are some important contact numbers if you find yourself in a dark space and struggling with your finances:
Department of Social Development Substance Abuse Line 24hr helpline
0800 12 13 14
SADAG (South African Depression and Anxiety Group) Suicide Crisis Line
0800 567 567
Akeso Psychiatric Response Unit 24 Hour
0861 435 787
Cipla Whatsapp Chat Line (9am-4pm, 7 days a week)
076 882 2775
24 hour Healthcare Workers Care Network Helpline
0800 21 21 21
0800 515 515
021 001 6922
FAMSA (Families South Africa) head office
021 447 7951.