What other effects might I see because of the cost-of-living crisis
Just as the stress of the pandemic has started to subside, we are now faced with the growing cost-of-living crisis which is plunging many into financial difficulty and distress.
The cost-of-living crisis has a firm grip over the UK as energy bills skyrocket and households struggle with ever-increasing bills and soaring food prices, further compounded by the war in Ukraine.
The National Office of Statistics discovered that 77% of British adults have reported feeling stressed as a result of the cost-of-living crisis. This trend is set to continue particularly into the winter months, when some may face the unimaginable decision of choosing between heating their homes or eating.
At Mental Health & Money Advice, we recognise the cost-of-living crisis is not only affecting everyone’s finances, but also their mental health. Here we explain the knock-on affects you may experience because of the cost-of-living crisis, how you can navigate these and nurture your wellbeing.
Reduced Social Connection
The increased cost of living means that many of us won’t have the same amount of disposable income that had, as wages are being spread thinly to cover the cost of rising bills.
You may be making the decision to cancel your gym membership or cut down on going out for dinner to keep financially afloat.
As a result of facing financial hardship, you may feel that you must retreat from your social life or feel embarrassed to tell friends or family members that you do not have money to spend on social activities.
However, isolating ourselves from company is proven to have a detrimental impact on mental health with 1 in 4 adults in the UK admitting that feelings of loneliness make them feel worried or anxious.
At Mental Health & Money Advice, we recognise there are cost-saving ways to maintain social connections that won’t break the bank during the cost-of-living crisis.
Nearby relationships usually don’t require you to spend a lot of money on travel.
For example, you could arrange to meet your friend for a walk in your local park or visit an art gallery or museum - as many heritage attractions boast free entry. Activities such as these are free to enjoy, will help to get you out of the house and could take your mind off some of your worries.
Join Free Community Groups
There are many community groups that are free to join, offering support, companionship and new skills.
Community groups are a great way to meet like-minded people in your own local area that share similar interests to you. Your local council will be able to provide you with a full list of local community groups.
Community groups could be:
- Art clubs
- Craft groups
- Walking groups
Clic is a free UK-wide online resource that strives to support everyone with their mental health. Clic helps to connect individuals with like-minded users, creating an online community that uplifts and encourages one another while providing mental health information.
The Clic Quickchat function allows individuals to chat with each other, share any worries or thoughts and to ask for advice. Clic users find it reassuring as you can log onto the app at any time and someone will be there to chat with them.
If you have a particular worry or question, Clic’s discussion forums provide you with the opportunity to discuss topics with other members. The information hub houses a wide range of useful resources helping you to manage your mental health such as wellbeing videos and budget planning tools.
Employee Assistance Programmes
If you are working, check whether your employer offers an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). These are workplace support programmes that help employees facing any personal problems or distress that may interfere with their work performance such as mental health issues or financial concerns.
EAPs are there to support employees by offering confidential assessments as well as short-term counselling; they can also refer employees to a counsellor or further resources.
It is common during periods of stress that your sleep may be disturbed. During the cost-of-living crisis, you may find that it takes you longer to get to sleep at night, that your quality of sleep is poor or that you experience insomnia.
Mental Health UK have discovered that 25% of adults in the UK say that money worries are responsible for negatively impacting their sleep.
Sleep is integral to our overall health and can have a particularly negative impact on our mental health if we do not get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
Rethink Mental Illness also offer advice on how to improve sleep as well as a range of apps and websites that are useful for combatting poor sleep.
However, if sleep problems persist for longer than a week you should call your GP to book an appointment to discuss your concerns. Depending on the severity of your sleep problems your doctor may refer you to a therapist for CBT or prescribe you sleeping pills for use in the short term. Find more information on sleep problems on the NHS website.
Often money worries can put a strain on relationships, especially in periods of financial hardship such as during the cost-of-living crisis. You may find you are having more arguments with your partner about where money should be spent or limiting impulsive purchases.
If you are struggling with discussing money concerns and budgeting in your relationship it is important to know that you are not alone.
The combination of the soaring cost of household living combined with rising inflation while wages remain stagnant is putting a tremendous pressure on households and relationships.
Relate offer relationship advice with a specific section dedicated to money issues, providing guidance on a range of money-related problems. Some of the areas covered include how to start talking about money as well as how to address debt as a couple.
Parenting Hub on Clic
If you have children, it is a good idea to discuss the cost-of-living crisis with them, in an age-appropriate manner, to make them aware that it is a period when money will be tight and reassure them if they have any worries.
Children are intuitive and pick up on stress and changes within the home. Having a conversation with your children about money will help to reassure them and make them feel involved in saving money.
The Parenting Hub on Clic offers excellent mental health resources for both parents and children in the form of forums and an online budget planner. The chat function connects like-minded parents so they can discuss their concerns and worries in a safe environment and show support to other parents.
The energy crisis and the rising cost of food prices combined is causing financial hardship to many families.
The Food Foundation has discovered there has been a 57% jump in the number of households cutting back on food or missing out on meals.
Stress can cause us to either lose our appetite or overeat. You may feel that you do not have time to prepare fresh meals or find that healthy food costs more money than ready meals.
A good diet is crucial to ensure we get the right nutrients to look after our health and avoid diet-related diseases such as obesity.
Eating healthy is possible while on a tight budget and there are many recipes available to help give you inspiration when it comes to meal planning. The BBC Good Food website has a wide selection of healthy dishes to inspire you all year round.
Anti-poverty campaigner and food writer Jack Monroe has been tirelessly campaigning to the Office of National Statistics for supermarkets to introduce basic food lines in light of the cost of living crisis.
Monroe’s experience of surviving on foodbanks has led them to share budget friendly meals in their book ‘Cooking on a Bootstrap’. Monroe has given evidence to parliamentary inquiries and been consulted on the School Food Plan and National Food Strategy.
The use of food banks has soared over the last few years with thousands more households reliant on food banks throughout the cost-of-living crisis.
In many cases, some of the families that are accessing food banks have both parents in paid employment. This emphasises that rising food prices are also hitting families that have never previously used a food bank.
The Trussell Trust has seen an 81% increase in the amount of people using foodbanks during the cost-of-living crisis.
While families are grateful for the support food banks offer, many feel embarrassed or a sense of shame in using food banks. However, food banks are there to help individuals and families across all walks of life during times of financial difficulty.
As well as providing food, volunteers offer non-judgemental support and reassurance to users which is what many families need during this difficult time.
Community Kitchens are excellent ways for individuals to learn how to cook cost friendly dishes within a supportive environment.
Most local communities have a community kitchen which teaches individuals cooking skills, budgeting tips and how to read nutrition labels on food. They also help to improve social connections and battle isolation as they bring together individuals who have a common interest in wanting to learn new skills to better themselves and their families. You could enquire at your local Council or nearest Citizens Advice Bureau for more information about community kitchens near you.