The cost of living crisis means we’re all paying a lot more for our basic daily essentials and many more people are struggling to make ends meet.
The rising cost of those essentials – such as energy, food, and housing – brings with it rising levels of worry, stress and anxiety.
Our member Simon Coombs says that if basic necessities are threatened people can lose their ability to thrive and anxiety increases.
You're not alone
“This taps into Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs, the base line being food, water, and shelter,” said Simon. “So when making ends meet in these areas is threatened, this creates uncertainty.
“It feeds anxiety and depression as feelings of helplessness and despair can take hold.
“We can become uncertain and feel disempowered and fearful. This drives emotional exhaustion and, ultimately, depression.”
If you’re anxious about the cost of living, you’re not alone.
Our annual Public Perceptions Survey, carried out with YouGov, found that 40% of people in the UK feel anxious or nervous about whether they can pay their bills.
16% of the UK public are losing sleep over the rise in the cost of living and almost one in five (19%) are cutting back on activities which help their mental health, such as gym membership.
Simon, founder and director of Working Minds, said money worries, in particular, are based on debt.
“It’s not just an inability or struggle to pay for the things we need, but also the toxic ingredient of debt,” he said. “It’s debt and the fear and insecurity it creates which attacks our psychology.
“We feel at risk of loss – loss of the roof over our head, loss of choice in terms of what we can or can't afford, when we’re warm or when we can eat.”
Simon said that financial anxiety could be obsessing about energy costs and savings, switching everything off, checking gas and electric meters.
“Constantly overthinking,” he added. “It can also mean avoidance. Not answering calls or emails, or panicking when the post arrives.”
Try to take control
The key thing in dealing with financial anxiety is to take back some control, said Simon.
Make a list of your money coming in against outgoings. Make a budget. Perhaps consider your employment options. Are there vacancies offering more pay or hours than you currently have?
As energy prices continue to rise sharply, installing a smart meter can give you some certainty, said Simon.
“If you’re in debt, you must pick up the phone and talk, or have someone alongside you when you do,” he said.
“Most major organisations, such as mortgage lenders and utilities, can offer payment holidays or sensible repayment plans.
“But until they’re notified they can’t be offered and your payment agreement changed – so taking action is always the best option, even if it feels scary.”
Simon said speaking to a registered counsellor can help with anxieties around money. Visit the how to get therapy page of our website to find out where you may be able to get access to free counselling services.
Simon said: “You can take your concerns to counselling and receive non-judgemental support. It’s never too late to take action.
“Worries float in our heads and drive our negative emotions.
“Having a concern rather than a worry means you can do something to change or help your current position. A worry just keeps you awake at night.
“Make a to do list. All can be relevant actions that you can take to give you back some more control when you may feel totally out of control at the moment.
“Even making a list is taking action. Making a call or sending an email is taking action. Doing nothing isn't an option.
“The more you take action the more in control you’ll feel, even though we can acknowledge times are going to be tough for us all.”