It goes without saying that 2020 has been a monumentally difficult year for people all over the world, especially in financial terms. The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been immense, with millions facing retrenchment, pay cuts, forced unpaid leave, and an inability to pay their bills. On top of this, we have also had to deal with fears of contracting COVID-19, as well as the mental, emotional and physical consequences of extended social distancing and isolation.
And while we have all had to struggle through the past few months, it is those in debt who have had to carry the heaviest burden. While credit providers like banks have introduced initiatives such as payment holidays, the reality is that debtors are still required to pay off the entirety of their debt. And considering that the majority of South Africans have had to tighten their belts, there is a high possibility that those in debt are sitting in an even worse financial situation than before COVID hit, making repayments close to impossible.
STRESSED ABOUT MAKING YOUR PAYMENTS?
What this all adds up to is millions of South Africans dealing with immense amounts of stress and, subsequently, impaired health and happiness. It is absolutely essential, now more than ever, to combat stress in order to protect your health. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of tips, tricks and resources that you can use to lower your anxiety levels and make it through the dark days:
WRITE IT OUT
When you feel as if your life is spiralling out of control, one of the best things that you can do is to transfer all of your thoughts and feelings onto paper. Try making a list of everything that is stressing you out, and then break that down into two categories – things that you can control, and things that you can’t. You may find that you can easily address a bunch of the issues that have been causing anxiety, such as overdue errands or a messy corner of your home; furthermore, acknowledging that you cannot change certain things may help you to release some of the pressure that you have been putting on yourself.
FOCUS ON YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH
It’s all too easy to neglect your physical health when you are riddled with stress and anxiety, but disregarding proper nutrition, exercise, sleep and proper hygiene will only exacerbate your negative mental state. By no means do you have to become a health and fitness junkie, but you should at least try to meet the bare minimum of your physical needs such as getting 8 hours of sleep each night, eating enough kilojoules and at least ONE vegetable per day, and enjoying some sun and movement a few times a week. Start by implementing small changes, and be kind to yourself if you slip up.
MAKE YOUR BED
As Admiral William H. McRaven said in his (now famous) 2014 speech, “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.” Making your bed when you wake up means that you have started your day with a small achievement, and if you have a tough day, at least you will have a neat and tidy bed in which you can find comfort.
TRY OUT HOLISTIC HEALTH PRACTICES
While meditating or practicing mindfulness will not solve the problem that is stressing you out, it will help your mind and body to better handle the anxiety. There is a huge variety of resources out there to help you in these practices such as mindfulness and meditation apps, and guided meditation YouTube videos.
Being open and honest about how you’re feeling can be incredibly vulnerable and frightening, but we can promise you that you will not regret it. People are inherently focused on their own lives, which is not a bad thing, but it does mean that your inner turmoil may go unnoticed by even those closest to you. If you are worried about stressing out the people around you, you can go to them and let them know that you don’t expect them to solve any of your problems, but you just need to feel seen.
If you cannot bring yourself to confide in your loved ones, you can contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group’s (SADAG) mental health line on 011 234 4837, and you will be able to talk to a trained counsellor.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF
The best thing you can do for your stress levels and mental wellbeing is be patient and gracious with yourself. It is so easy to turn to negative thinking and beat yourself up for what you may have done (or not done) in the past. One of the key aspects of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – a widely-used mental health treatment method – is examining the ways in which you talk to yourself. If your inner dialogue is antagonistic, you will eventually find yourself stuck in a cycle of stress, depression and low self-worth. Try to remember that, even if you have made mistakes, you did the best that you could in the circumstances you were dealing with.
Unfortunately, while you can take steps to manage stress and anxiety, you cannot get rid of it all together without addressing the root of the problem – and that’s where we come in. Our team of financial experts is here to help you regain control of your finances and eliminate the debt that is causing you emotional and physical stress.
We are here to help – you don’t have to go through this alone.
READY TO WAVE YOUR STRESS GOODBYE?