This year has been particularly hard financially and that can have a significant impact on a person’s mental health. Stress and anxiety are common emotional responses to financial difficulties and these feelings can be intensified if the challenges are prolonged or severe. Many Kenyans are currently having to go through the burden of working for months with no pay, retrenchments are looming and businesses in most sectors are still slow.
Stress will automatically come because you cannot avoid worrying about how to pay bills and pay off debt while struggling to make ends meet. Your mind is constantly racing and you’re living in a state of fear hoping the banks will understand. This leads to a host of physical and emotional symptoms such as headaches, fatigue and difficulty sleeping. In addition, stress can also cause feelings of anxiety and depression.
Another effect ‘Njanuary’ can have on our mental health is the embarrassment that they can cause. Many people feel a sense of shame or embarrassment when they are struggling financially and this can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Like a domino effect, that can further exacerbate feelings of anxiety and depression.
And that again will manifest physically if not checked. It may develop into high blood pressure, weight loss, ulcers, the list is endless. If that happens and you’re financially incapable of even meeting small needs you will be unable to access the necessary healthcare, therapy and other resources that may help alleviate mental health issues.
It is important to remember that financial challenges are a common experience and that seeking help is not a sign of weakness. Seeking help from a financial advisor, a therapist or mental health professional can help you better manage the stress and emotions that come with financial challenges. Open up to your family too so they don’t start to worry about your condition. That way, you can all come to an agreement on how to cut down and create a feasible plan on how to navigate this trying time.
You also need to take some time out to care of yourself physically, emotionally and mentally. Eating well, getting enough sleep, adopting a hobby to distract you and engaging in regular exercise are all effective ways to reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Once you come to the conclusion that ‘Njanuary’ won’t put you down, be on the lookout for triggers and find healthy ways to cope.