So, what does the cost-of-living crisis mean for our mental health and what can we do to look after ourselves during this period of uncertainty?
For some, the rising cost of living means cutting back on non-essential items, like holidays or takeaways; however, for others it means making the unimaginable choice between heating or eating. In whatever situation you are in, money can have an immense impact on your mental health. It is becoming increasingly clear that financial issues are linked to higher levels of stress, poor sleep, and even anxiety and depression.
According to a survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) earlier this year, around three in four adults (77%) reported feeling very or somewhat worried about the rising costs of living. In addition to this, 50% of the adults who were very worried about the rising costs of living felt those worries nearly every day.
Aside from spending less on non-essential items, the most frequently reported actions to deal with rising costs included cutting back on food and essentials, using less electricity and gas at home, and cutting back on non-essential car journeys.
The survey also highlighted that those who were very worried about the rising costs of living also reported worse mental wellbeing, including high levels of anxiety, loneliness, low happiness, low life satisfaction and worse overall physical health, compared to those who were not worried. When our mental health isn’t at its best, many areas of our life can be impacted, from our diet and exercise routine to our social lives and sleep. In turn, when we fall out of these healthy routines, we can feel even worse, creating a ‘vicious cycle’ that can feel difficult to break out of. Further to this, many people are now in a situation where they are forced to cut back on parts of their life that support good mental and physical health. For example, with less disposable income, you might feel like you can’t afford to eat healthily or you may decide to ditch your gym membership to save money. You may also be more likely to turn down invitations to go out with friends, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Finding affordable ways to keep your mind and body healthy
No matter how you are impacted by the cost-of-living crisis, it’s now more important than ever to make sure you’re looking after your wellbeing. The good news is that there are many affordable and free ways to continue doing the things that make you feel your best.