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How to manage your mental well-being with the rising cost of living

9 February 2024
How to manage your mental well-being with the rising cost of living

What you will learn from this blog:

  • Fear of not having enough money is not a bad thing; it is a natural response
  • An emotional crisis around money is a wake-up call that your previous beliefs about money need to change
  • How to develop intention, gratitude and beliefs that will help you create a full and abundant life

As therapists offering midlife crisis therapy, we see many people’s mental health affected by money issues – including rising GST and prices, loss of jobs, loss of investments, or huge unexpected expenses.

These can contribute to:

  • Stress, anxiety, panic
  • Loss of freedom
  • Overworking and burnout
  • Relationship conflicts

We (K&K) have struggled with these too. The fear of scarcity is deep and is one of the most difficult fears to overcome. It keeps us in survival mode, affects our mental wellness and prevents us from living meaningfully.

In this blog, we explore 3 ways you can manage your mental wellness when facing money issues, and how you can use this opportunity to change your relationship with money.

1. Balance fear with reason and facts

The fear and stress of not having enough money is not actually a bad thing. It is a natural response when our needs are not met. Our fear is trying to protect us and push us to do something to meet our needs.

However, this fear can cause us to overreact when it is not balanced with facts and rational thinking.

Here are three steps to balance fear with rational thinking and manage your mental wellness:

Step 01: When you feel stressed or triggered by money issues, instead of going straight into panic mode and rushing to find a solution, it is important first to take a moment to breathe and acknowledge your feelings.

This helps your feelings calm down a little and allows you to be more aware and in control.

Step 02: Take stock of your financial assets, reserves, inflow, and outflow to get a full picture of your situation. We often panic because we focus on immediate facts (e.g. paying a big sum of money, or seeing our bank balance drop), and do not see the bigger picture in that moment.

Step 03: Explore practical ways to budget to meet your needs sustainably, given the new situation (e.g. higher prices or unexpected expenses). These could include:

  • Practising intentional spending (rather than impulsive spending) by making a list of your expenses, and reflecting on why each is important to you
  • Exploring the possibility of reducing expenses that meet important needs, and removing unimportant expenses
  • Reflecting on how much financial reserves are you actually comfortable with, and how you can work towards it
  • Seeking professional finance advice if needed

2. Cultivate gratitude and abundance

Whether you are “rich” or “poor” is more a ‘mindset’ and ‘feeling’, rather than about how much money you have.

Some subconscious beliefs that make us feel “poor” are:

  • “If others have more, I have less”
  • “There is not enough”
  • “The more I spend, the less I have”

To cultivate a “rich” mindset, find areas in your life where you can feel gratitude and abundance, for example:

  • Feeling grateful for the generous care and support of loved ones
  • Feeling grateful for random acts of kindness from strangers
  • Feeling grateful for opportunities and resources that have helped you in life

As you start to recognise the blessings in your life, you start to develop trust that things will work out.

4. Examine deeper fears about money

At a higher level, an emotional crisis around money is a wake-up call that our old fears about money need to change. Healing these fears can bring about a profound shift in our financial and mental well-being.

Here are some steps to bring awareness to one’s deeper fears about money:

a) Identify the emotion – Recall a time when you felt a strong emotion because of money (e.g. when you saw prices increasing, or your bank balance drop). Observe where and how that emotion is physically felt in your body as if it is the most fascinating thing. Write down that emotion, e.g. panic, anxiety, stress, sadness, etc.

b) Identify the thoughts – Write down the thoughts running through your mind around why you are feeling this emotion (e.g. “If this continues, I won’t be able to make ends meet”).

c) Identify the fear – After writing down the thoughts, ask yourself – “why is that so bad?” until you get to the bottom of it. This will help you identify the real reason why you fear not having enough money.

Some common underlying fears that people have related to money are:

  • Self-worthiness – We are afraid that we would not be considered “successful” and “worthy” if we have insufficient money; we feel ashamed to ask for help
  • Freedom – We are afraid that a lack of money will cause us to lose our individuality and independence
  • FOMO – We are afraid that a lack of money will cause us to miss out on things our friends do or buy, which will isolate us
  • Safety – We are afraid of feeling unsafe in our body
  • Control – We are afraid of not feeling in control and being powerless
Conclusion:

Sometimes awareness of these fears is enough to help us let them go. Sometimes, it is necessary to understand where we acquired these fears from and heal the trauma with approaches such as inner child work, shadow work, and intergenerational trauma release.

For example, I (Kester) felt anxiety when I made a huge, unplanned expense recently. As I did this practice, I felt pain in my stomach. I traced it back to the trauma of when my ancestors felt hungry when they were poor.

To heal it, I told the fear that it was no longer in that situation of poverty, and it can trust that I now have the ability and resources to earn enough to thrive.

The above tips help manage stress from money issues in the short term. As you practice them, working on a longer-term strategy is also important to ensure a sustained, abundant inflow.

This would require one to heal beliefs about money such as:
– Money is evil
– Money is difficult to earn
– Money disappears fast

It would require one to develop more empowering beliefs about money, such as looking at money as an exchange of value. As you become clear about your strengths and skills and the value you bring to meet people’s needs, you gain confidence that as long as you continue expressing your gifts and value, you will always be provided for.

Work with us

Our work is grounded in our own life experiences of overcoming trauma and finding ourselves again.

Learn more about how you can work with us to improve your mental wellness. We at Intracresco are here to support you with offerings such as midlife crisis therapy.

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