Self care when you are struggling financially

We all struggle in life whether it’s financially, mentally, physically or all three or more at the same time. There are times when many of us fall behind on our bills or run up credit card debts, or maybe we eat poorly. It’s part of being human and navigating the unknowns of life to the best of our abilities. Here are some things geared toward self-care to do or think about when times are scary, the unpaid debts you have are high, and you feel hopeless.

*Practice gratitude. Yes—even when things are really bad. Maybe you had your power cut off, or are struggling to pay the rent. No matter, there is always something to be grateful for in life. Whether it’s simply being alive for another day, beautiful weather, the health of your children, a roof over your head, food to eat…there is something to be grateful for while you search for stability and financial help.

*Take time for quiet. Everyone has 5 to 10 minutes in their day for a brief moment of peace and quiet. If it’s first thing in the morning or late at night, take advantage of a quiet period and just be in the moment. Take a few minutes to stop worrying about the bills or paying the mortgage.

This space for decompression can alleviate anxiety, bring clarity to hard situations or soothe a heartache temporarily. It may give you the strength to find the help you need whether it’s counseling or financial aid. Things change all the time in life and can change very quickly for the better. Maybe that new or better job with a higher income is right around the corner!

*If you are fortunate to have the financial help and support of family and friends, relish that and give thanks and appreciation to them. If someone lends you money, make every effort to pay it back, even if it’s mere dollars at a time and may take years to do. Acknowledge a debt and keep at it.

Keeping your word and paying back a kindness raises your confidence and ensures people will have faith in your character long into the future. Maybe you can even give back by donating time or money to a local charity. Sometimes your word and reputation is the only thing you have—honor it.

*If you are struggling to pay for housing (or even homeless) and if you are fortunate to have a friend or family member allow you to live with them temporarily, make sure to be the most gracious guest possible. This does not mean big gestures or buying things you cannot afford. It means adjusting to their schedules and lifestyle to not cause disruptions, cleaning up after yourself, cleaning the house or apartment without being asked, making a meal, doing yardwork, or babysitting to offer free child care if applicable.

Maybe from time to time you can even give them a few dollars for paying some bills. Or take out the people you are staying with for an affordable meal, and help them pay a utility bill. Every gesture is very meaningful.

There are so many free things you can do to show your appreciation and in turn, you may end up staying longer to save money for your rent while you get your feet on the ground. Think how nice it would feel if someone stayed with you (for free) and you in turn came home to a clean kitchen and bathroom, tidy living area or a nice meal on the table after working all day. Your appreciation will also build your self esteem and self worth which may help motivate you in finding work or an apartment. Don’t just take—give back too.

*Keep yourself up, including your health. When you are struggling and feeling hopeless, it is very easy to sleep, not bathe, not do much of anything. This can just lead to poor health, increased medical costs, and maybe even a missed job opportunity as a result of poor hygiene.

Even if all you can manage to do is take a shower and do laundry—it’s showing you have not given up on yourself or your situation. Small gestures mean much more than you think. Keep your living space clear, keep your home clean and do not allow clutter or mess to infiltrate an already sad situation.

*There is help out there for many situations such as hunger, energy bills, health care and more. However, keep in mind that various resources are often low, slow and you are not the only one struggling. Things, such as financial aid or a grant, don’t automatically get handed to you by a local charity. You may have to make many, many calls to the point of frustration, reach out to many non-profit or government organizations, have extreme patience and not expect to be handed things or money all at once. You are the only person who can turn your situation around, therefore, keep asking and looking for financial help for your bills but be mindful and self-aware at the same time.

Don’t keep perpetuating a bad situation or spending money on expenses that are “wants” verses “needs.” For example, if you are truly on the edge and struggling, cable TV or unfortunately, your phone may have to be halted temporarily as those bills are expensive and they are “wants”. Clothes, personal items and take out food should not be even considered for purchase during a financial crisis.

Scarce resources should be spend on food to be prepared at home, rent, utilities or anything else urgently needed for survival. Reassess your situation consistently—there may be more money or resources that you have available. There are many things you can “live without” in life. The needs in life are much less than the wants.

In times of financial struggle or a short term emergency, it is very easy to lose hope in yourself and in the social support system. You may question who receives these government benefits for paying their bills and needs, and ask why are you behind.

It is helpful to remind yourself there are things that are in your control and you have more power to increase your income or catch up on your bills than you think. It takes consistent self-assessment of your life situation, hard work to catch up on your debts and persistence to change a bad financial situation but it is possible.

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