Mental Health & Wellness is the buzzword today with almost 90%+ organisations already having some sort of Employee Wellness program in place.
In a majority of cases, these programs are more prescriptive with most focussing on maintaining physical health through diet control programs, fitness exercises, and consultations with qualified counsellors in case of any emotional disturbances.
However, it is a misconception that just these measures would help alleviate stress and anxiety amongst employees.
If you wish to reduce anxiety and stress – you first need to start by becoming aware of the root causes. And then take steps to minimise them before they become full-blown problems requiring external help.
Apart from physical and emotional wellness, there are a few other important areas that we need to be aware of which deeply affect our mental health and wellness.
Coping with Financial Stress
If you’re worried about money, you’re not alone.
Most of us are dealing with financial issues that may be caused by loss of work, escalating debts, unexpected expenses, or a combination of factors. However, whatever may be the reason, the fact remains that financial worry is one of the most common stressors in modern life.
The recent havoc caused by the pandemic has resulted in most of us facing financial struggles and hardships which have taken and continue to take a huge toll on our mental and physical health, our relationships, and the overall quality of life.
Aggravated financial problems can adversely affect our relationships, career, growth, health, etc., which lead to high levels of anxiety and stress. The effects of not being able to manage our finances properly can be quite disastrous.
What you need is Financial Literacy
Before you face any financial challenges that may arise, start planning your finances early in life. Then you would be in control of your finances and would be able to tackle your money problems head-on.
The vicious cycle of poor financial health and poor mental health
Financial problems adversely impact your mental health. The stress of debt or other financial issues leaves you feeling depressed or anxious.
The decline in your mental health makes it harder to manage money. You may find it harder to concentrate or lack the energy to tackle a mounting pile of bills. Or you may lose income by taking time off work due to anxiety or depression.
How to prepare for your financial stability
Let us begin with you asking yourself the following questions:
- Do I have financial freedom?
- Do I prepare for short-term and long-term emergencies?
- Do I manage resources to live within my means?
- Have I made wise investments?
- Have I planned for my retirement?
A careful assessment of your answers would give some indication of where you stand as far as your financial health is concerned. (We can go deeper with a detailed self-assessment, which would give you a clearer picture of where you stand.)
Let us now look at a broader understanding of what you need to know to achieve Financial Wellness. There are 4 main focus areas:
1. Financial Awareness
You need to be aware of what and where you are spending/investing. Some of these would be driven by emotional desires while others would be driven by practical needs.
Also – these would keep changing as you go through different phases of your life. While in the early years – it may be okay to largely focus on short-term needs that are largely driven by emotional reasons – as you move on in life – and with growing responsibilities and maturity – you need to also start preparing for and investing in long-term needs.
These could include investing in your own personal and professional growth, the needs of your growing family including children’s education and future planning, investing in assets, health and life insurance, building a contingency fund, etc.
It is obvious that the earlier you start investing in your future – the better the chances of you securing a more stable future for yourself and your dear ones.
2. Financial Literacy
Once you have realized the importance of securing your financial future, you also need to know what, when, and where to save/invest. Not everyone understands the complexities of the financial world. Therefore, it would be ideal if you can have some known and knowledgeable people as your mentors/guides. However, even then you should be aware of at least the basic financial options.
You should start with creating short-term as well as long-term budgets. They should factor in your current and foreseen income based on which you should plan your expenses – short-term, long-term, or even debts (car loans, housing loans, etc.).
You should also be clear about where you should make investments keeping in mind your need for short-term as well as long-term liquidity.
Back all this up with relevant insurance plans if you can – life, health, home, assets, etc.
3. Financial Behaviour
Once you have prepared your financial budgets, and are aware of the various options available for spending, saving, investing, etc., you would need to start making financial decisions. Remember, awareness is one thing, and taking actual decisions is a completely different ballgame.
Either your heart or your head would drive the decisions you take. While both would give you satisfaction and happiness – one may last longer than the other.
Therefore, there is a need for discipline. Stick to your financial goals and plan your expenses and investments as per those goals.
And yes – do budget for a few fun-filled impulsive decisions too!
4. Financial Satisfaction
If you can manage your expenses and investments within your income, you should have financial satisfaction. Right?
Financial satisfaction is something you achieve over a while. Yes. The above balance is required. Equally important is the fact that are/were your financial decisions the right ones? Were these aligned with your inner beliefs? Sometimes we do take decisions that may seem to be financially sound – but they trouble us nevertheless. Ideally, we should avoid taking such decisions.
Life is unpredictable. We will find financial satisfaction if we find that our financial decisions are moving us closer to and/or attaining our life goals.
Start managing your Financial Wellness…NOW.
Ajay Mahajan | Sadhana Rao | firstname.lastname@example.org