You might think you are a healthy person, but did you know there are all kinds of health? And most importantly, that they are all linked?
Your physical health is what we traditionally think of as health; your body’s wellbeing, and your mental health is how your mind feels; your mental wellbeing. But, you also have another aspect that is often ignored, or prioritised too highly: your financial health.
Your financial health is your financial wellbeing. This means your financial security, your credit score, your debts, and your plans for the future. There mere mention of these things can cause many people to break out into a sweat. Money is very stressful, and this is what we mean when we say that they are all linked.
It’s All Connected
For example, studies have shown that your financial health is a very good indicator of your mental health. While some people find that there is a cyclical link between your mental and financial health. You might damage your mental health by worrying about your finances, but then your poor mental health makes managing your finances even harder. This makes you worry more, and so on, until you are completely overwhelmed!
Similarly, your physical health and financial health are very connected. One study found that people are more likely to save for their retirement if they are living a healthy lifestyle. Researchers from Washington University argue that both these attributes are typical of people who think about, and plan for the future.
Or perhaps, your physical health suffers from something outside your control? When you are injured, your income can sometimes take a hit, which could cause financial trouble or, at the very least, serious worries and anxiety.
Having a debt problem, for example, is not just a financial health concern. When you are in debt, your mental health takes a serious hit as you worry about bankruptcy, or sequestration. For some people, this can simply mean a few sleepless nights, but for others it can be severe depression, anxiety, and other concerns.
When you suffer from mental health issues, you often begin to neglect yourself; you might turn to unhealthy foods for comfort, or lose the motivation to exercise. Your financial concerns may also make it harder to afford healthy food, gym memberships and other healthy lifestyle choices.
What can I do?
There are all sorts of things you can do to make sure you are healthy in every way and every aspect of your life.
- Avoid toxic thoughts, about yourself, about your life, and about your money. Remember: your worth is not tied to your finances.
- Don’t compare yourself to other people. People rarely show the difficult parts of their lives, so you are likely to be comparing your life to a fictional version of theirs, and that is a recipe for negativity.
- Don’t buy things for the person you want to be, buy things for you (because you are already the best version of you!). So don’t buy clothes that aren’t your size that you will never wear, and don’t buy expensive yoga equipment, smoothie equipment when you don’t yet know if you like yoga or smoothies.
Get Debt Help
- Even if you aren’t yet struggling with your debts, looking into debt management can really help your stress levels.
- There are many debt solutions, such as Individual Voluntary Arrangements, Trust Deeds, or Debt Management Plans. There is almost definitely a solution to suit your situation.
- It is also important to realise that debt is not inherently bad – some debt, such as student debt, is very manageable. Don’t let normal financial situations build up in your head.
Make a Budget
- Your finances might stress you out so much that you just avoid the subject. But, that is never a good idea. But, don’t worry – you can start small. You don’t need to worry about understanding bitcoin, investing, or even your pension just yet.
- Start by simply working out how much money you actually earn a month from your income, after tax, housing, and bills.
- Then work out how much you need for food and other essentials and take that away.
- Then make sure you are paying off your priority debts, and paying more than your minimum payments on your other debts.
- If you have anything left, then this is money you use to make a budget for leisure activities. Don’t be too strict with yourself, you deserve to have fun, after all! But try to save as much as possible for financial emergencies and your future.
Healthy Food on a Budget
- Don’t forget to continue eating healthily, even if you are on a budget. There is no point becoming financially healthy, just so you can harm your physical health by ruining your diet.
- There are some great cheap food ideas around. You might even find yourself spending less on food by learning to cook and prepare cheap meals!
- Try to learn to cook in season. In-season fruit and vegetables are not only often cheaper because they don’t require expensive greenhouses, but they can be fresher and full of more nutrients because they haven’t had to travel long distances.
Exercise on a Budget
- Similarly, don’t let your new budget stop you from exercising. It might be a good idea to give up on that gym membership, if it isn’t great value. But, there are plenty of ways that you can exercise and not spend any money at all!
- Parks are free! You can walk, or run, at your leisure!
- Look around for cheap local classes, if you prefer taking exercise classes – not only will you get fit, but you can make some great friends too!
- If you love lifting weights, and have the space, you might want to save for some home gym equipment. It could save you money in the long term, but remember: don’t buy things based on the person you want to be, spend money on who you are now! If you don’t lift weights now, a home-gym is likely to be a waste.