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24 October 2022

Supporting your mental health around the cost of living crisis

If you’re finding yourself feeling overwhelmed and struggling to cope with the very real impacts of the cost of living crisis, you are not alone. At Shout, our volunteers have been supporting people who are experiencing a negative impact on their mental health as a result of rising bills and mounting debts, many who feel like they have nowhere else to turn or need an anonymous outlet to speak about their feelings.

According to the ONS, nearly 9 in 10 (89%) adults in Great Britain report that their cost of living has increased, equal to around 46 million people. Around 24 million of these people were reducing energy use in their home between March and June 2022, and around 16 million cut back on food and essentials.

When things feel uncertain or out of your control, it can have an impact on your mental health and wellbeing, but if you are struggling to cope, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to face it alone.

We’ve put together some tips to help you or a friend or family member who might be finding things difficult.

  1. Remember you’re not alone. Whether it’s a friend, family member, professional or a support organisation, there are people you can talk to about cost-of-living challenges. You can also text SHOUT to 85258 for free, 24/7, confidential and anonymous support.
  2. Be open about financial challenges. Talking about financial challenges can be difficult, but it can help to take your thoughts out of your head and give you the opportunity to discuss them with someone else, which can be a relief and de-stressing.
  3. Look at cost of living resources. Check out organisations that provide information and advice about cost of living support, for example: Get help with the cost of living - Citizens Advice has some useful resources on getting help with bills and benefits and you can also take look at Cost of Living Crisis: Things That Might Help and Turn2us for support.
  4. Look after your physical health. Stay active by going for a walk or a run, on your own or with a friend, talking or listening to music or a podcast. These activities can help support your wellbeing and help boost your mood. Stay hydrated too.
  5. Sleep and rest are important. If you’re struggling to sleep, get up and make a cup of tea, write a list of things on your mind, listen to some calming music, turn off the media in your bedroom, consciously empty your head of racing thoughts and focus on your breathing.
  6. Take some time for yourself. It can be hard to focus on some ‘me time’ when things are feeling overwhelming, but focused breathing helps to control feelings of anxiety. Take a deep breath in through your nose, filling your lungs, to the count of about 5-7, hold for a couple of seconds, and then let the breath out through a pursed mouth. A couple of rounds of focused breathing and you should feel more calm. You can follow along with one of our guided breathing exercises.
  7. Tackle one thing at a time. Stress is our response to challenging situations. While high levels of stress can be damaging to our health, we can also tend to disengage from any stress. Make a list and tackle one thing at a time, one day at a time. Remember, you do not have to sort out cost-of-living challenges on your own. As we said above, reach out to people, organisations, professionals who can advise and refer you and, importantly, listen to you.