Most of us have had days in which some sort of financial strain has knocked us for a loop—but when money problems become consistent, the stress can have a detrimental effect on our mental (and physical) health.
Keeping banking business on track is a major way to relieve that angst, but easier said than done, right? Wrong. Following these steps can help increase your fiscal well-being without adding more pressure to your plate.
In the last decade, Canadians have been engaging in more, and more courageous, conversations around mental health. According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the economic burden of mental illness costs Canadians more than $51 billion annually. Add in money stress and things can become overwhelming, and feel unbearable in no time at all. Money and mental well-being are connected. How could they not be? While money may not buy us happiness, it allows us to afford our lives. According to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, financial well-being is defined as being able to meet commitments like paying bills on time, feeling financially comfortable so you can do the things you want and enjoy life, and resilience for the future so you can be prepared to deal with unforeseen expenses. Here’s how you can achieve financial well-being.
1. Develop a Relationship with your Finances
Money can feel scary and overwhelming, especially if you haven’t been taught how to manage it—which, let’s face it, is extremely common. Consider looking beyond your budget and reflecting on how you were raised with money, what money values and beliefs you have, and how aligned you feel with your day-to-day and long-term finances. Spending time doing some soul-searching can help you tune in to your feelings about money. The reality is, money is not about the money (until it is), but rather, it’s about how you feel about the money that makes the difference. Consider this: If you feel afraid, overwhelmed, intimidated, embarrassed or even ashamed about money, you will act in ways that keep you in this spot. This could look like avoiding bank statements, using credit to supplement living expenses and having an “I’ll never get out of debt, so why bother?” attitude. However, by exploring your relationship with money, you can decide what’s working for you (e.g., you have solid financial goals or good systems in place), as well as what you want to shift (e.g., feeling like you’ll be in debt forever). All you need for this is time, a comfortable place to sit, a pen and paper and a good cup of coffee or tea. The good news is, by reflecting, contemplating and even meditating on your relationship with money, you can boost the feel-good chemicals in your brain, like serotonin, and gain a better outlook and maybe some confidence in how you'll move forward.
2. Start Small
Start small and grow into your relationship with money. Was there something that came up for you during reflection that you would like to focus on? Consider making a list of what you need to do to feel more satisfied/happy/ peaceful about your financial situation. Break down each item to its most basic task and start by doing one small thing. You don’t need to do it all at once, but by taking the first right step, you’re heading in a good direction. Then you’ll take the next right step, the next one and so on. The good news, again, is that by setting, achieving and celebrating your goals, you activate those endorphins. If you’re stuck on what the next positive step is, reach out to someone who can help you decide, such as your local non-profit credit counselling agency.
3. Consider Sharing Your Experience
Consider sharing your experience with either yourself, through journaling, perhaps, or with a partner, friend or group. This practice reminds us that we aren’t alone in our hopes and fears around money. Furthermore, it lets others know that they aren’t alone, either. Shame around money can only exist if we keep quiet.