When the loss of a job or career change causes a drastic drop in income, a need to tighten the budget isn’t the only change. There is a remarkable physical and mental toll that stress can cause on the body. The pressure of providing for others and preparing for the future on a limited income can feel crushing. It might be tempting to neglect wellness as anxiety and stress increase, but facing wellness needs head-on will be better in the long run.
Talking to a counselor and meditation are excellent ways to prioritize mental health. Adopting new practices like daily walks and healthy eating can help support physical health throughout a challenging time. Continue reading to learn more about coping during income changes.
Protecting Mental Health
When challenges arise, especially financial challenges, it is easy to become laser-focused on finding new sources of income and strategies for cutting back. For some individuals, this can result in neglecting well-being as they reduce spending in areas that were a part of their health and wellness practices. Worse, when a person's mental health suffers, it becomes even more difficult to be resilient.
When work hours are cut, or sudden unemployment strokes, many find themselves struggling with loneliness on top of everything else. Research has found that loneliness can damage health as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It’s important to reach out to family and friends for emotional support.
Meditation is an excellent coping strategy that may help us all better handle the stressors of life. One exercise that works well for beginners is a body scan. Focus on breathing in and out. Once this feels comfortable, start at the head or feet and slowly draw attention to that part of the body. Then move attention to the next part of the body, slowly scanning from head to toe or vice versa.
Those suffering from depression or anxiety may do best to talk to a professional. Many state insurance programs and private insurance programs can connect beneficiaries with low-cost or free counseling.
Prioritize Physical Health
When dealing with a major drop in income, it’s easy to neglect self-care, a practice that plays a key role in both physical and mental well-being. For example, sleep deprivation can increase the risk of anxiety and depression, so it’s important to get the daily recommended eight hours.
A well-balanced diet can help reduce the risk of depression, as well as cardiovascular disease and cancer. It might not seem easy to eat healthy when income dips but dried beans and whole grains are some of the least expensive food items in any grocery store.
When a budget change is necessary, things like gym memberships might be the first things that get canceled — and that makes sense. It is certainly OK to make adjustments to lifestyle that better align with a new monthly income. However, these changes don’t mean physical health has to be abandoned altogether. Instead, individuals confronted with new cash flow problems should make plans to replace the gym days with runs at a public park or jump-roping at home rather than giving up on an existing exercise habit.
Some healthy living necessities cannot be sacrificed. If life-sustaining medication is becoming difficult to pay for, reach out to a healthcare provider or drug manufacturer about prescription assistance programs. At the very least, they may provide coupons or samples to help bridge the gap until additional income can be secured. Another option is GoodRx, which offers discounts for people without insurance.
During a vulnerable season in life, it might feel like healthy living is the last thing on the list. However, physical and mental self-care play a key role in getting through tough times intact. So keeping it on the list is a must, even if we have to change how we go about it.
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