Managing financial stress and your mental health

South Africans are a tough bunch, even when it comes to money worries. But while many choose to shrug off financial stress as simply “too much month at the end of my money”, studies indicate that struggling to make your paycheck last can take a real toll on your mental health. And as it stands, about 54% of South Africans cannot stretch their income to month-end!

Of course, the role of Covid-19 and the ensuing pandemic on our emotional well-being cannot be ignored. A recent survey of 1 200 South Africans by Sanlam and Ova to You explored the link between the pandemic, financial woes, and our mental health. Here’s what they found in the Letter to My Pre Covid-19 Self campaign:

The cost of cash worries

In comparison to their pre-Covid lives, 57% of respondents felt that the financial stress of the pandemic had the biggest negative effect on their mental health. Younger people (18-24) were hit especially hard financially, while discouraging forecasts about South Africa’s economy served to depress the older generations.

Baby blues

Women between 18 and 24 seemed to bear the brunt of Covid-19’s negative financial impacts, while women of all ages struggled with stress related to their families and young children. That being said, about 20% of male respondents between 25 and 39 also cited childcare as a stressor, perhaps indicating a lack of access to proper care, either for financial or logistical reasons.

Managing to manage

The real distress felt among South Africans during the pandemic begs the question: How did we all cope? According to the survey’s respondents, many sought the help of prescription medication (21%) and online and in-person therapy to deal with their feelings of stress and anxiety (12%). Others prioritized self-care, embarking on online or physical exercise routines (21%) and practicing mindfulness.

The lessons learned

Hindsight is indeed 20/20, but there is value in reflecting on how the pandemic changed us and what we would do differently if we could go back in time. When asked to reflect on this, many South Africans surveyed had similar outlooks.

While better self-care and focusing on the simpler things in life made the list, many wished they were better financially prepared before disaster struck. Saving more money, starting an emergency fund, and having a better idea of how to manage their finances all ranked highly as good “I wish I had known” pre-pandemic advice.

One of the female respondents from North West said, “I’ve learned that I must start taking my mental health seriously and avoid anything that could affect it.”

It’s not too late to start focusing on better financial and mental health. mCubed Group is an independent fund administrator that helps guide you towards financial security all the way into retirement. Our fund-appointed FAIS-accredited financial advisors help you to enjoy a safe, financially sound, and prosperous retirement – without the stress. Members, clients, and participating employers of our retirement funds enjoy access to the best investment administration and advice, excellent service, and complete transparency for the best long-term results.

Get in touch with us today to lessen the financial burden on your mental health!

*If you are battling depression and anxiety, here are some numbers to keep on hand:

South African Depression and Anxiety Group: 0800 567 567

LifeLine Counselling Line: 0861 322 322