We all know that times have changed since the beginning of 2020.
The economic crisis brought about by the pandemic has left many of us feeling anxious about the coming weeks and months.
Many are working so hard to respond to changing business needs. At the workplaces, remote working is the new normal; commute to work has changed; what is safe to do is changing rapidly. And for those people looking for work, the day is taken up looking for a job in a recession economy and trying to navigate unemployment claims.
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Financial stress is a major factor in many of our lives today. Some people may be facing an uncertain financial future, given the potential impact on everyday life, job and income.
However, it is very important to remember that we must not forget to protect our mental health as we continue to protect our business, job, manage our financial future and physical health.
It's no great secret that as we age our bodies begin to go into some form of decline, it can't be disputed because the evidence is visible. But mental health isn't visible, no one knows what's happening in anyone else's head. This means it might be more open to dispute, delaying any response.
Also as a society, we are finally beginning to have more honest and supportive public conversations about mental health, but too often the connection between mental health and money hasn't been recognised.
Research by Commission for Financial Capability (CFFC) released to support Mental Health Awareness Week (September 21-27) shows that 69 per cent of New Zealanders are concerned about money, with that figure rising to 74 per cent of women and 82 per cent of those aged 18-34.
The research showed the varied ways that financial worries affected people's day-to-day lives, including impacting their mental wellbeing.
Tom Hartmann, managing editor of the Sorted website at CFFC, said the line between financial and mental wellbeing was not hard to draw, with anxiety levels typically easing when people sort their money situations.
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 curb. 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. We might understand financial stress as when people can't meet their day-to-day financial commitments. But it's important to understand everyone's personal circumstances are very different, so understandably, our experiences of financial stress vary and it isn't necessarily just about a lack of money.
For some people, stress relating to money may simply mean 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 small 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 services firms and advisers are improving how they identify and provide support for clients' different needs. Some financial advisers have specialised models designed for clients working through emotionally-charged issues (eg, divorcees, widows/widowers, critical illness, etc) and 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 a professional financial advice or even a second opinion on an existing plan will provide peace of mind, which is key in terms of supporting mental health.
Remember, to be able to take care of your loved ones, you need to make sure you look after yourself.
Nick Stewart is an Authorised Financial Advisers and CEO at Stewart Group, a Hawke's Bay-based CEFEX certified 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