Are you working longer and longer hours? Feeling somewhat depressed and burnt out?
According to a recent poll, New Zealanders are working much more than they did pre-Covid and risk suffering from burnout.
A week ago, TVNZ interviewed four Kiwis from all walks of life who had experienced severe burnout. Business leader Theresa Gattung, former chief executive of Telecom New Zealand, was one of them.
Absolute IT, a specialist recruitment company, described it as, "Kiwis have a world-famous work ethic; there's a reason why our ex-pats in London are so employable! However, the hard-working, dig deep approach, with all its positives, can spill over into over-working."
Add to that record debt levels, the cost of healthcare, slow wage growth and little work-life balance, and you have a recipe for emotional exhaustion.
Yes, burnout is often linked to your work, but it can also affect your financial decisions outside of work. For example, you may start to:
Choose convenience over your budget. If you're already exhausted, you may pay more for services like grocery delivery or takeaway meals to make your life easier. While the occasional use isn't a cause for concern, these convenient solutions for more mundane tasks can quickly add up.
Make large purchases to relieve stress. If you're longing for an escape from your reality, you might find yourself signing up for lavish vacations or paying for expensive products to help alleviate stress. But these are only temporary solutions that won't solve your underlying problems.
Splurge on yourself as a type of reward. "Treat yourself" isn't just a hashtag; it can be a coping mechanism. There's a difference between saving for a goal that celebrates your accomplishments and tricking your mind into thinking you "deserve" to indulge at the moment.
Use shopping as a form of retail therapy. Many people turn to shopping as a coping mechanism when things aren't going their way. And online shopping has now made this habit exponentially worse since you can get instant gratification without even leaving your bed.
While the above things may give you immediate satisfaction, they can also cause you to quickly drain your bank account or even rack up long-term debt. Understanding how burnout harms financial decision-making can help you or a loved one break through it and achieve your goals.
Take a look at your long term financial goals
Whenever you experience burnout in your personal life, it's a good reminder to check if you drifted away from your long-term financial goals. If you are not doing activities that contribute to those long-term goals, you might eventually get tired of them, and if you keep doing them, you get burnt out.
You don't pick your long term financial goals out of thin air; you decide on goals that align with your values and beliefs.
So, if you're not doing things that match up with those long term goals, you probably aren't doing things that match who you are. There might be something important missing from the puzzle.
The line between financial and mental wellbeing is not hard to draw, with anxiety levels typically easing when people sort their money situations.
Record debt levels, healthcare cost, slow wage growth and little work-life balance are a recipe for emotional exhaustion.
Being in an unhelpful financial situation can have a negative impact on our mental health. Conversely, if we're struggling with our mental health, sometimes our finance management falls by the kerb. It can start to feel like a vicious cycle.
So being conscious of how financial health and mental wellbeing are connected, openly acknowledging that, and seeking help early on if you're facing financial difficulties is really important.
It's different for everyone
Research has definitively shown that burnout is an organisational problem, not an individual one. The responsibility for preventing employee burnout rests directly on the shoulders of employers.
Helping employees connect to their purpose is key for burnout prevention. Companies must develop and implement resources or partner with financial advisers to help employees better manage their financial wellbeing.
Many business owners might think financial stress is when people can't meet their day-to-day financial commitments. But it's important to recognise everyone's circumstances are very different, so understandably, experiences of financial stress vary, and it isn't necessarily just about a lack of money.
For some people, stress relating to money may mean a lack of confidence when handling finances. For someone else, not knowing how to access trusted advice when they need it may induce stress.
Regardless of whether you have a slight concern or are facing a significant challenge in relation to your finances, reaching out for help sooner rather than later is always a good idea.
Financial service firms and advisers are improving how they identify and provide support for clients' differing needs. Some financial advisers have specialised models designed for clients working through emotionally charged issues (eg. divorces, widows/widowers, critical illness, redundancy, etc). They often already have processes in place that can more easily accommodate these clients' needs.
Feeling in control of our finances is incredibly empowering, yet managing them can take time and skill, which in itself can be stressful, especially right now. Seeking professional financial advice or even a second opinion on an existing plan will provide peace of mind, which is key in supporting mental health.
Remember, to be able to take care of your loved ones, you need to make sure you look after yourself. Make yourself a priority and take the necessary steps to overcome burnout feelings before they become all-consuming with long-term financial implications.
Nick Stewart is a Financial Adviser and CEO at Stewart Group, a Hawke's Bay-based CEFEX certified, independent financial planning and advisory firm. Stewart Group provides personal fiduciary services, Wealth Management, Risk Insurance & KiwiSaver solutions.
The information provided, or any opinions expressed in this article, are of a general nature only and should not be construed or relied on as a recommendation to invest in a financial product or class of financial products. You should seek financial advice specific to your circumstances from an Authorised Financial Adviser before making any financial decisions. A disclosure statement can be obtained free of charge by calling 0800 878 961 or visit our website, www.stewartgroup.co.nz