Managing Stress and Your Finances During the COVID-19 Pandemic
By Monika Ritchie
There’s no doubt that as we weather the coronavirus pandemic, stress has increasingly become a regular part of our lives. As if worries about our own health and the health of our loved ones isn’t enough, many of us are feeling the pressure of financial stress from mounting bills, reduced incomes, and job uncertainty.
That kind of stress can lead to many health issues, and decreasing it is a great way to help us stay healthy in a time when that’s so crucial. So what can you do to manage stress during the coronavirus pandemic? Getting your finances sorted out as soon as possible will go a long way to mitigating your money worries. Pair financial stress relief with tips to take care of your mental health, and you’ll be able to manage this difficult time more effectively.
4 Tips to Take Care of Your Finances During COVID-19
During this time your health really does come first, but taking care of your finances will alleviate some of the tension and stress you might be feeling. Knowing that your money issues are taken care of will also allow you to focus more on your wellbeing. Here are a few steps to help you move forward:
1. Reach Out to Your Bank and/or Creditors
The best time to talk to your financial institution is before things have gotten out of hand. Concerned about paying your mortgage? The sooner you reach out, the better. As nervous as you might feel about talking to your bank, keep in mind that a lot of people need help right now, and many banks, credit unions, and lenders are working to support you. They’ll appreciate you being proactive and will help you find solutions.
2. Get Familiar with the Resources Available to You
Right now, there are a variety of resources available to help you through this difficult time. Whether it’s support during unemployment, deferred payment plans, or other emergency benefits, learn about which programs are for you. Visit this comprehensive coronavirus resource page to find all of the key resources available for Canadians in one spot.
3. Build and Adjust Your Budget for Reduced Income
If you don’t have a budget, now is a good time to put one together. If you’re facing a significant reduction in income due to the COVID-19 pandemic, then track your expenses carefully and build an emergency budget. If you already have a budget, consider reviewing it to see if you can pare it down and reduce your expenses further. Take advantage of staying home for all this time and implement a no-spend challenge to help yourself save on discretionary expenses.
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4. Stay Safe and Be Aware of Scams
Unfortunately, even during a worldwide health emergency, scammers are trying to take advantage of the situation. With so many individuals anxious about the state of their health and finances, many are susceptible to frauds around COVID-19. Be wary of any unsolicited emails, phone calls, or other communications, especially ones that request donations or sensitive information. Do not give out any of your personal information to unfamiliar individuals or businesses, and don’t fall victim to text message scams that ask you to get your money by clicking on a link. When in doubt, contact a company or the government directly by looking up their contact information yourself.
Tips to Manage Your Mental Health During COVID-19
By now, everyone is familiar with the guidelines around social distancing and self isolation, but that doesn’t mean you need to resign yourself to loneliness and zero social contact. Your mental health is just as important as your financial well-being, so check out these six tips for self-care:
1. Connect with Family and Friends
While in-person visits are not possible right now, phone calls, video chats, and emailing are all great ways to stay in touch with loved ones. You can share photos and videos, favourite songs, recipes, and more. Make it a priority to (remotely) interact with at least one person outside of your house every day. It will do wonders for your mood and emotional health as well as theirs.
2. Catch Up on Unfinished Projects
For many of us, there are simply not enough hours in the day to catch up on our various chores and miscellaneous projects. If you’re “stuck” at home, it can be a great time to finish these off. Not only will you check some items off your to-do list, but you’ll get a great mental boost from being productive. However, be wary of tacking a project with a higher price tag than what you can afford on reduced income.
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3. Use Community Resources
Many communities across the country have risen to the challenge of providing support services to those who may need extra help during this time. If you have mobility issues or other challenges, you don’t need to struggle alone. Look into programs in your area that can help you with running errands, grocery shopping, and other necessities. On a larger scale, many grocery stores now have options for online shopping and delivery to help with social distancing. Try connecting with your community on Facebook or see if your province has a central resource centre to coordinate offers of help.
4. Get Creative with Exercise
You may not be able to go to the gym for now, but many fitness providers are offering online and remote classes that you can follow along with. If you’re not really a gym person, you can lift weights and do strength training from the comfort of your own home. Or you can simply put on your favourite music and have a dance party. You’ll burn calories and get a great boost from all those endorphins!
5. Get Outside If You Can
Most public spaces like playgrounds, parks, and pools have been closed. But going out for a walk, hike, or run is acceptable if you’re doing it in areas that allow you to keep your distance from other people. If that’s not possible, simply sitting on your balcony or in your backyard with a book is a great way to get some fresh air and vitamin D.
6. Reach Out for Help If You Need It
If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed or anxious with what’s been going on, counsellors and other support professionals are often available for appointments over the phone or online and can help you work through feelings of anxiety, panic, or depression. You don’t have to suffer alone, so reach out if you need to. If you’re not sure where to turn, contact the Canadian Mental Health Association to find services in your community.
When to Ask for Help from Professional Credit Counsellors
There’s nothing wrong with getting some professional help before you back yourself into an even tougher spot with a do-it-yourself (DIY) debt relief program. Building budgets, accessing government resources, and speaking to creditors can be a daunting task – especially if you’re new to the experience and feeling stressed and overwhelmed. An accredited financial counsellor can help with navigating the resources available to you, building an emergency budget, and working through your options in an objective and pressure-free environment. Don’t be afraid to reach out – the best non-profit consumer credit counselling services are ready to help.