As promised last week, I’m following up with four more coping strategies that may help, if you’re feeling anxious about money, as a result of the Coronavirus, and the impact it’s having.
Follow the BPR rule (keep busy, be productive and have a routine)
You might feel a bit lost, now you’re entering the fourth or fifth week of being at home. The garden is looking immaculate and you’re finding it difficult to come up with things to do with your time.
But it’s important you get into some sort of a routine. And that’s going to bed and getting up at the same time, going for a walk, calling family, reading etc.
You need to set aside time during your day to do particular things, rather than just making it up as you go along.
And some of the time you set aside, is alone time, where you create space for yourself to think.
If you don’t, you tend to only dwell on problems, which detracts you from focusing on finding solutions. Being worried robs you of rational thought, and it robs you from approaching things in a calm, well thought out, logical manner. It clouds our judgement and makes us focus on the next 24 hours rather than the next 24 days.
So, you need to find time to be productive, and have some tunnel vision thinking, because there will come a time, and hopefully that will be very soon, when you’re allowed to re-engage with the outside world, which is why now is the time to create that plan for yourself, you’re ready to go when it happens.
Let’s assume life returns to some sort of normality in May or June, but worst case scenario your previous job is gone, what are you going to do? Don’t wait to do something in 4 or 5 weeks’ time, you’ve time now, so what jobs are you going to apply for? What sectors will be in demand? Does your LinkedIn profile need to be up-dated? What does your network look like and if you have one, start reaching out to them and ask for help, look for ideas etc.
If you don’t have one, create one and you can do this by reconnecting with people you worked with previously, went to school with, played sport with etc.
Part of your job at home for the next three weeks is to find a job or think about how you can make yourself more valuable to your current employer, and you’ll be amazed at how creative you can be when you have time to think. Creating that distraction and focusing on what you need to do, takes your mind off what’s going on right now, which in turn will help reduce stress levels.
Know your stress triggers
Another area we have to be mindful of, is spending too much on-line.
If our mood is low, we look for ways to lift our spirits and that could be shopping on-line and spending money we don’t even have.
Its’ easy to get suckered into buying things to relive stress, or you’re buying simply out of boredom but you’re reducing your financial means by overbuying. If you don’t have a lot of savings to fall back on, now is not the time to reduce them further.
Exercise and eat properly
A piece of non-financial advice for a moment.
A report released by the Imperial College’s School of Public Health has suggested that people who contract Covid-19 who are obese or are unfit, have a higher chance of dying, than those who are fitter and healthier.
In the UK, 4 out of 10 people admitted to intensive care for Coronavirus related conditions are obese. And 2 out of those 4, will die. The rate is higher if your overweight and over 60 years old.
The reason why being overweight has such an impact, is because when you lie down, the weight of your stomach pushes your diaphragm upwards, which reduces your lung volume, and we know Covid-19 is all about lung function.
Aside from the obvious benefits of being fitter and healthier in fighting Covid-19, research has also shown exercise is important to mental health. It boosts our happiness and is proven to keep depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues at bay. A 2018 study published in The Lancet Psychiatry found that 45 minutes of exercise three to five times per week was associated with the biggest mental health benefits.
Walking, running, yoga are all ways we can get some physical activity. Start walking around the house, get outside for a quick brisk walk, and if you can’t safely exercise outdoors, get on-line because there are plenty of workout’s on social media. There are lots of fitness trainers offering free on-line classes that can be done with little or no equipment or have a look at different apps you can follow on your phone.
And remember, combine exercise with watching what you eat. Because losing weight also increases lung volume.
Focus on the positives
It can also be a stressful time for people in employment. They too worry about money and what the future might hold, which is why taking stock of what resources you have and how long they’ll last for is important.
This will really help, because it can help calm your fears. It will help you recognize and appreciate that financially you’re in a good place, should you too suffer a shock to your income.
It might be worth reaching out to your financial adviser and having a chat with them. They’ll be able to remind you and tell you all the positive things going for you financially which will help give you the reassurance you’re looking for.
And I know thinking positively doesn’t pay your mortgage or bills, but it can reduce your anxiety.
Recognising what’s good in your life, and practising gratitude is important. I’m grateful that my family are healthy and safe. I would exchange in a millisecond everything I own or have for their wellbeing.
Staying up at night and worrying about money won’t magically make it appear in your account the following morning. Nor will a job offer appear in your email inbox either.
These are uncertain times’, but this is going to come to an end. In the meantime, we have to try stay patient and positive. It’s important we manage our mental health the best way we can during this stressful time. Help yourself, help others, and avoid conversations with yourself or individuals that only increase your anxiety.
If you’re worried about missing mortgage repayments, or utility bills, don’t panic, no-one is going to have their home repossessed because of Covid-19. Prioritise what you have to spend on essentials right now, and you’ll get to your bills and mortgage in time.
We’re all going through a tough time, and things are still very uncertain, but what isn’t, is that collectively we’ll get through this and I’ve no doubt we’ll be stronger and better for it.
Liam Croke is MD of Harmonics Financial Ltd,
based in Plassey. He can be contacted at email@example.com or www.harmonics.ie