Ways to help your clients cope with financial stress

Know the warning signs to look for in yourself or your clients

Ways to help your clients cope with financial stress

Summer may traditionally be the time to relax and have fun with family and friends, but this may not be the case for you or some of your clients this year due to mounting financial pressure and the high cost-of-living.

In addition to COVID-19-related fears that continue to niggle away at the back of Kiwis’ minds, worries about making ends meet and the feeling of financial over-commitment this holiday season are not only making it hard for households to manage their budgets but are also impacting people’s mental health and wellbeing.

“Poverty puts additional pressure on some whānau every Christmas,” Shaun Robinson, Mental Health Foundation CEO, told Newshub. “Just remember this is a difficult time (financially and otherwise) for many people, and you are not alone in this. No matter what you’re worried about, connecting with a friend and opening up to a loved one or someone you trust can lighten the load significantly.”

The Mental Health Foundation has launched its All Sorts summer campaign to normalise the emotions many people will feel at this time and help everyone realise that it is OK to seek help.

“Even when times are tough, it’s important to remember there are all sorts of simple, free, or very inexpensive ways to boost our wellbeing and look after ourselves and our whānau! Let’s shift the focus on what we can do in Aotearoa this summer,” Robinson said.

According to a September study from the IPSOS New Zealand, inflation and the cost-of-living is worrying one in every two Kiwis, with fears that these issues will continue to trouble all of New Zealand in some form for the next five years, Newshub reported.

November research revealed that personal finances were the biggest barrier to people’s mental wellbeing.

As pressure mounts up, they can manifest in all kinds of forms. Find out if you or your clients are under stress with these warning signs:

  • Physical – shortness of breath or shallow breathing, indigestion, stomach upsets, frequent colds or flu, memory or concentration problems, difficulty sleeping or sleeping more, changes in appetite, exhaustion, low energy, tiredness, headaches, body aches or pre-existing conditions that have worsened
  • Emotional – impatient or irritable, less confident, anxious, tense, or tearful, numb and disconnected, regretful or guilty, embarrassed or ashamed, a lack of joy and energy for life
  • Behavioural – losing interest in whānau or work, finding it hard to make decisions, having trouble coping with day-to-day things, avoiding seeing friends, not doing activities you usually enjoy, using drugs or alcohol to cope

“Looking after your physical and mental wellbeing may not seem like a priority if you’re struggling to pay the bills, but it’s actually crucial to take care of yourself when times are tough,” Robinson said. “Try to introduce some simple wellbeing activities into your day. A brisk walk by the beach or calling an old friend can do wonders for boosting your mood and easing the stress.”

The main way to cope with financial distress, Robinson said, is to tackle it early on.

“It’s better to deal with financial issues now, rather than in the future,” she said. “Many lending institutes are providing extra support for people in financial distress plus there are free budget advisory services to help you navigate through the tricky times.   

“If you feel like you’re not coping, always, always reach out for help – there are 24/7 free helplines such as 1737 manned by trained counsellors that offer support, information, and help. You can also speak to your GP or community health service such as Marae health services.”

For more resources or information visit summer.allsorts.org.nz and www.mentalhealth.org.nz.

How are you and your clients coping this holiday season? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.