Stress leading up to the festive period is a common occurrence for many of us and the tough year we’ve had may make this worse for many. We want to enjoy the festive season as much as we can to make up for everything that has happened, as well as treat our loved ones to make the festive season special. But this could lead to pressure to spend beyond our means and in turn affect our mental health. So how can we achieve the right balance to preserve both our finances and our mental wellbeing?
With 16% of people saying they are likely to get into debt financing Christmas and 29% saying they feel more anxious about not being able to afford Christmas this year1, it’s important to consider how to keep on top of your financial wellbeing during the festive season. Being able to take control of your finances can help you enjoy less stressful holidays – and a less stressful start to the new year.
AXA Health Physiologist and Mental Health First Aider Rosie Irving and Senior Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner Emma Mudge share their top tips to help you thrive financially and look after your mental wellbeing.
Top tips to help you stay on track
1. Keep your budget in mind
The best way to avoid spending too much is to plan your expenditure and set yourself specific budgets. Think about what you want to buy in advance, plan for exactly how much you can afford to spend and set a limit that you mustn’t exceed. Sticking to a plan and a budget really can help you to keep on top of your money this festive period.
2. Make a list and complete the list in one shopping trip
Be sure to write a list of everything that you want to buy and try to complete the list in one shopping trip. Be clear, concise and be sure to stick to your plan so you aren’t easily enticed into another great sale or bargain. For some, busy shopping centres can be a source of stress and anxiety so consider shopping online, but again, make sure you stick to your plan – it can be all too easy to spend online.
3. How about getting creative?
Remember that gifts don’t always have to be shop bought. You can save money this year by simply getting creative. It could also support your own wellbeing; creativity helps to focus the mind and can help to protect against a range of mental health conditions. Handmade gifts could involve making homemade tasty treats like jams, chutneys or cookies; knitting, sewing, home painting and decorating kitchen ware; or just getting creative with the cards that you send.
4. Think ahead
It can be helpful to start your planning earlier rather than later. Putting money aside each month after pay day can help you to lighten the load when it comes to the holidays, or any other big events you’re saving for. This will also help you to avoid funding through credit cards or pay day loans. Saving money each month throughout the year will prevent the need for taking out credit, removing a key factor when it comes to stress and anxiety.
5. Don’t spend when you’re not feeling well
As well as financial concerns affecting your mental health, mental health issues can make it harder to manage your finances. If you’re suffering from a mental health condition and aren’t feeling well, it’s best to put off spending until you feel more in control if you can. You’ll be less likely to overspend and impulse buy. Try to come back to your shopping list at another time.
6. Try a budget planner and seek help
There are some great tools to help you to manage your outgoings all year round and take control of your spending. It’s also important to reach out for help if needed. Whether that’s from friends and family who can support you to manage your finances more efficiently and help you to avoid any personal anxiety triggers, or professional services such as an employee assistance programme, there are many lines of help available to support you.
It’s understandable to want to enjoy yourself and show your appreciation for your friends and family but remember that the festive season is short lived. Be open and honest with your nearest and dearest about what you can and can’t afford. It could really help to reduce the festive financial pressure and support your personal wellbeing, over the season and in the longer term too.
- Hub of Hope – Mental health database providing information on the support services and charities within your area.
- National Debt Line – information and advice about debt, including a helpline, online webchat and sample letters for writing to creditors.
- Money for Life – supports young people to develop knowledge and skills to manage their money.
- Mental health and money advice – online advise for people experiencing issues with mental health and money.