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If you want to take care of your mental health, start taking care of your finances!

Mental health, vastly ignored, if not more is as important as physical health. According to the WHO, mental health includes "subjective well-being, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, intergenerational dependence, and self-actualization of one's intellectual and emotional potential, among others". From the perspectives of positive psychology or of holism, mental health may include an individual's ability to enjoy life and to create a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience.

This definition of mental health highlights emotional well-being, the capacity to live a full and creative life, and the flexibility to deal with life's inevitable challenges. In reality, it affects every aspect of our life and we can miss out on the greater joys of life if we do not take care of our mental health. Let us take a moment to think about mental health and understand the importance it requires. If you are mentally healthy, you will undoubtedly perform well everywhere and vice versa. Investing in your mental health requires you to actively avoid situations which are emotionally draining and do more of what you enjoy most.

But, to accomplish the above-mentioned mental health goals, there is usually an obvious hinderance i.e. your finances. If you do not take care of your finances and splurge unnecessarily, chances of you living a life of your dreams slim down. This is because to pursue a hobby or a passion or a dream the handiest resource is sufficient money. If you do not have resources to pursue your goal, you will have to compromise, which basically means to opt for a less desirable situation - not good for your mental health!

More often than not mental health & financial health are intertwined. Poor financial health will most likely lead to poor mental health which will in turn lead to an increasingly poor financial health. Stress and anxiety are some of the mental health issues that stem from financial issues and in turn causes distress to our physical wellbeing as well. It is reported that people with money problems are more likely to be depressed than people with a more stable and secure financial situation.

This cycle will continue unless you decide to work out your finances.

The first step is to take small steps. No one can do a 180 on their financial situation overnight. But by surveying your financial landscape and developing actionable, bite-sized goals, you can incrementally improve what is right in front of you. If you feel that the stress of your financial health is affecting your peace of mind, the first step is to simply voice your concerns with someone trustworthy. Talking about it will ease out the burden and help you in finding solutions to keep your financial health at bay. Plan ahead rather than react. Strive to be in control of your finances as opposed to them controlling you. Take an active role in managing your money by identifying the steps needed to achieve your goal. Then create your plan that includes a timeline for completion (e.g., in order to save PKR 12000 in six months, I will not eat out as much which will free up PKR 2000 in my budget that will be assigned to savings.)

Manage your overall stress

Resolving financial problems tends to involve small steps that reap rewards over time. In the current economic climate, it’s unlikely your financial difficulties will disappear overnight. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps right away to ease your stress levels and find the energy and peace of mind to better deal with challenges in the long-term.

Get moving. Even a little regular exercise can help ease stress, boost your mood and energy, and improve your self-esteem. Aim for 30 minutes on most days, broken up into short 10-minute bursts if that’s easier.

Practice a relaxation technique. Take time to relax each day and give your mind a break from the constant worrying. Meditating, breathing exercises, or other relaxation techniques are excellent ways to relieve stress and restore some balance to your life.

Don’t skimp on sleep. Feeling tired will only increase your stress and negative thought patterns. Finding ways to improve your sleep during this difficult time will help both your mind and body.

Boost your self-esteem. Rightly or wrongly, experiencing financial problems can cause you to feel like a failure and impact your self-esteem. But there are plenty of other, more rewarding ways to improve your sense of self-worth. Even when you’re struggling yourself, helping others by volunteering can increase your confidence and ease stress, anger, and anxiety—not to mention aid a worthy cause. Or you could spend time in nature, learn a new skill, or enjoy the company of people who appreciate you for who you are, rather than for your bank balance.

Eat healthy food. A healthy diet rich in fruit, vegetables, and omega-3s can help support your mood and improve your energy and outlook. And you don’t have to spend a fortune; there are ways to eat well on a budget.

Be grateful for the good things in your life. When you’re plagued by money worries and financial uncertainty, it’s easy to focus all your attention on the negatives. While you don’t have to ignore reality and pretend everything’s fine, you can take a moment to appreciate a close relationship, the beauty of a sunset, or the love of a pet, for example. It can give your mind a break from the constant worrying, help boost your mood, and ease your stress.

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