(Public Health England)
The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has brought a lot of uncertainty to our lives, and many people are facing job loss or financial difficulties. You might be worried about money, have lost your job or are concerned you might become unemployed – these issues can have a big impact on your mental health and wellbeing.
Poor mental health can make managing your finances harder, and feeling stressed about money can make your mental health worse, so it’s important to take action.
Here are 8 things you can do to feel more in control, as well as lots of free support if you need it.
1. Create a budget
Working out a budget can be a good first step in managing money worries as it helps you to track your spending, work out what you can afford and see where to save money.
Some people find it helpful to choose a regular time each week to look at bills and other spending to stop things piling up, or only withdrawing the amount of money they intend to spend each week.
2. Get free debt and finance advice
If you are struggling with money or debt it can feel like there is no way out, but there are lots of organisations who can provide you with clear advice and help you come up with a plan to feel more in control.
It can be tempting to avoid tackling debt head on – but the sooner you face your fears and get help, the sooner you can start getting back on top of things.
The National Debtline has also produced a coronavirus advice and support factsheet for anybody with money problems due to coronavirus, and its trained volunteers can give you free and independent advice online or over the phone.
Mental Health and Money Advice has clear, practical advice and support for people experiencing issues with mental health and money.
3. Know your rights and get support
If you are facing possible job loss, it can help to know where you stand and think about your options.
The Money Advice Service COVID-19 hub is full of financial advice and support, including what you’re entitled to whether you’re employed or self-employed, and a checklist of things to do if you lose your job.
Citizens Advice also has lots of information about benefits and support for wider issues you might be facing.
If you are made redundant, it’s important to know your rights. Check out ACAS’ information on redundancy and rights.
4. Talk about how you are feeling
It’s good to talk to someone you trust about your situation, whether that’s a family member, friend or someone at work. They can support you, or help come up with a plan for what to do.
If you are struggling with how you are feeling, there are lots of mental health charities who can help – no matter how big or how small the problem feels.
The NHS has a list of recommended charities or see our urgent support page if you need to speak to someone right now. Relate has lots of advice and access to trained counsellors if your money worries are affecting your relationships at home.
Remember that NHS services are still available during COVID-19 and it’s important to get help if you might need it.
5. Be kind to yourself
For many people, facing job loss or financial difficulties has nothing to do with their personal actions. Try to be kind, do not blame yourself and remember that this situation is not permanent.
If you’re struggling with feelings of uncertainty, try to accept that you cannot control everything, and focus your time and energy on the things you can control.
6. Maintain a routine
If you are no longer working then it’s important to still keep to a routine. Having a structure to your day helps you avoid bad habits, gives you a sense of purpose and boosts your mood.
This can be hard if you are feeling low – start with easier activities and, as you progress, your mood should improve.
Try to wake up and go to bed at the same time each day. You might even find it helpful to write a plan for your week. Fill your day with positive activities, such as cleaning, cooking or exercise, and meaningful activities like reading or getting in touch with friends.
You could also commit to spending some of your usual working hours looking for new jobs, but make sure you switch off at the end of the day and relax.
7. Clear your mind
Make time to relax your mind. This can help with difficult emotions and worries, and improve our wellbeing. Relaxation techniques can also help deal with feelings of anxiety – try listening to our relaxation audio.
Taking a moment to pause and focus on your breathing can really help you feel more calm and present. Even taking a few deep breaths in and out can help, or try our mindful breathing exercise video to guide you.
8. Look after your physical health
Our physical health has a big impact on how we feel emotionally and mentally. At times like these, it can also be easy to develop unhealthy habits, which can make you feel worse.
- keep active – check out Better Health for ideas on how to add movement to your new routines
- eat well – aim for healthy, well-balanced meals and drink enough water
- avoid drinking too much alcohol – find ways to drink less
- quit smoking – it’s never too late
If you are concerned about drug use, FRANK offers information and advice, including where to get help, and has a free advice line – 0300 123 6600.
Further support and advice
There are lots of specialist organisations who can offer further advice and support on the practical aspects of issues with money and mental health:
Mental Health and Money Advice provides clear, practical advice and support for people experiencing issues with mental health and money.
Mental Health At Work is a portal bringing together resources to support mental health in the workplace, including bespoke content on the challenges of COVID-19. For advice regarding your small business, including if you’re self-employed, Business Debtline can help.
If you’re worried about a loan shark (illegal moneylenders who often charge very high rates of interest) you can get confidential information and advice, or report illegal activity at Stop Loan Sharks.
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health our pages on stress, anxiety, sleep, low mood and how to deal with change have lots more tips and specific advice, and we also have support if you’re a parent or caregiver for a child or young person.
To take stock of how you are feeling and get some tailored ideas to look after your mental health and wellbeing, try our Your Mind Plan quiz. You can also use the GOV.UK tool to find out what support you can get if you are affected by coronavirus.