Read more about Make A Change Monday here.
When we think about being healthy, the obvious always comes to mind.
√ Eat your fruits and veggies
√ Exercise often
√ Get regular checkups.
Staying healthy is definitely a part of living a frugal lifestyle. It’s a part I personally struggle with, and one that can greatly affect your finances over time.
Poor health can cause you to lose your job, to have increased insurance costs, increased doctor bills and prescription expenses.
It can shorten your life leaving your family in a financial bind.
There’s no doubt that good physical health is necessary for longterm good financial health.
However, I think that if we’re going to talk about health, we need to also discuss mental health.
This topic can be considered a bit taboo because determining mental health doesn’t necessarily always involve concrete diagnosis/treatment options. It’s also something that society in general refrains from speaking out about.
However, in some cases the financial problems that people find themselves in are actually due to mental health issues such as OCD, depression, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar disorder, etc.
That’s not to say that if you are in debt, you must have a mental health problem. Not at all. Likewise, just because you have mental health issues does not mean that you have issues controlling your finances.
Also let’s be clear what the term “mental health” refers to:
Mental Health refers to a broad array of activities directly or indirectly related to the mental well-being component included in the WHO’s definition of health: “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease“. It is related to the promotion of well-being, the prevention of mental disorders, and the treatment and rehabilitation of people affected by mental disorders. -Source: World Health Organization
I’m also very aware that our society in general is overmedicated and that “the easy way out” is a path taken by far too many. However, I don’t think that needs to deter anyone from striving towards good mental health by seeking necessary treatment, whatever that treatment might be.
Just because society in general associates a stigma with something doesn’t decrease it’s importance in valid situations.
Do You Need to Examine Your Mental Health?
Let’s discuss some behaviors that can result in poor financial health:
- Compulsive spending
- Addictions to porn, drugs, alcohol, etc
- Lack of interest or focus
- High stress/anxiety
If you are struggling with your finances and can’t seem to get ahead, sit down and think about WHY you are having such difficulty.
Are you depressed?
Do you have any compulsive behaviors that you haven’t had the willpower to cease?
What is sabotaging you? Could it by YOU?
Your answers might not have anything to do with mental health, but if they do I urge you to find someone to talk to.
If you had a physical ailment, you wouldn’t just ignore it and think you could overcome it just by willpower, would you? (well, MOST of us wouldn’t!)
The answer to your troubles could be as simple as talking to a counselor, talking to your pastor at church, writing a journal to vent frustrations and organize your thoughts, going to a support group, etc.
In some cases, your problems might require treatment of some kind, and that’s okay too.
The goal here isn’t to blame your problems on some named disorder in the DSM-IV, it’s entirely possible you are in debt because you don’t know how to budget, how to shop or how to stop whipping out your credit card anytime you see something shiny .
Take this quiz here if you need a starting point to organize your thoughts.
My Personal Story
*Deep Breath* This is a bit tough to tell, but I think it’s important for me to share.
I have recently experienced some overwhelming stress in my life. After living through it in a kind of survival mode, I was left to go back to my life. I’m not going to lie, I had a bit of difficulty finding my way back. During this time I realized that some of the coping mechanisms I had used to deal with the things that overwhelmed me were no longer working for me.
Now, if I didn’t have so many responsibilities on my plate, I might have just said that I’d work it out over time. I’m not typically the kind to seek help, I’m pretty darn stubborn. I might have just let it go. I’ve seen people do that and in some cases, they did get better. In other cases, the state they thought they could work through actually became their new normal.
Having seen that firsthand, I knew I couldn’t do that to my children and my husband.
I put in a call to a local mental health provider and set up an appointment. Meanwhile I wrote down my issues. As I did this, I started to recognize something in myself that I had always known, but had never really written out in black and white. The coping mechanisms that I currently was struggling with were helping me cope with a problem that was much more long term then what I originally set out to get help with. In fact, I started to suspect that the problem I had once been able to manage my way through by using various conscious and subconscious techniques could actually be traced back all the way to high school (if not earlier).
Long story short, my suspicions ended up being confirmed and I worked out a plan with my mental health provider to figure out an action plan for treatment.
I’ve been undergoing treatment for Adult ADHD for a few months now and I have to say, my life is infinitely better then it ever was before. It’s scary to put that diagnosis out there.
However, I have this public platform and I think God gave it to me to help others. Definitely to help others learn to help manage their money better, but also just to live LIFE better.
My experience these past few months has lead me to many revelations, but one that I want to shout and be heard is that Health is Precious.
Mental, Physical & Spiritual Health isn’t a given. Just as we have to put in our time at the gym, we have to put in our time paying attention to our moods, our attitudes and our overall mindset and well being.
This week, sit down and think about your life.
Are you where you want to be mentally? Do you have a good outlook on life or are you constantly angry, depressed, frustrated, anxious, etc? You shouldn’t have to go through life consistently feeling any one of those emotions.
It’s normal to experience ups and downs, to get angry or to get sad. But if there is a consistency to any behavior that you know isn’t healthy or positive, think about talking to your spouse or someone you know that cares about your overall well being. If you can’t talk to them, find a local counselor or go talk to someone at your church (or if you are in school, you can talk to a school counselor). Life it too short to live with poor mental health.
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Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional. I am not making any claims that there is any correlation between debt and mental health. I’m not claiming that being a bit sad is cause for running out for a prescription. All I’m saying is that your mental health is important. Maybe you just need a venting session with your best friend! All I’m saying, is that it’s important and that it shouldn’t be ignored. I’m not telling people they need medication. The vast majority do not. But everyone needs to feel like they have a handle on their life. Poor financial health can make anyone feel out of control, even if there isn’t an actual disorder or mental health concern, there’s no shame in recognizing that and getting some help for it.
Do you think you need to seek treatment for a mental health related illness? Mental Health America has a very thorough resource for finding treatment here.