The link between money and mental health is often overlooked. A common cause of mental health struggles is financial pressures, and vice versa. A cause of financial struggles can often be poor mental health, and the consequent inability to prioritise keeping good money habits or bill payments.
Almost half of people in problem debt also have a mental health problem, and 4 in 10 people with a mental health problem reported that it had a detrimental impact on their financial situation.
The solution should be simple: we address one of the issues, mental health or finances, and see an overall improval in our quality of life and health. The issue, however, is that the usual suggestions to someone who is struggling - go to therapy! go to the gym! - can cause further financial strain, and are not accessible to all.
All hope is not lost though - there are free things we can do to improve our mental health, and they involve addressing some of our fundamental needs as human beings. As always, the best solution is often the simplest!
5 things we can do to improve our mental health without spending a dime:
This isn’t a hydration reminder - studies have shown that people living near water generally report better mental health and wellbeing. (the same applies to green spaces too)
“The mere sight and sound of water can induce a flood of neurochemicals that promote wellness, increase blood flow to the brain and heart and induce relaxation.”
Green spaces are also known to improve mental health.
Keeping a Journal
Now we’ve probably all heard this a thousand times before but let’s not underestimate the benefits of putting thoughts on paper (or notes app ) which include a reduction in stress and an improvement in emotional functions and immune system to name a few.
When there are thoughts, worries, or fears rushing at us, the first best step is to organise them before we can start dissecting them and working towards solutions.
Go out of our way to watch or read something positive. Better yet, writing down something we’re grateful for - small or big, it doesn’t matter!
We’re exposed to more information than ever before - personal tragedies, wars, climate-related disasters, etc. fill our consciousness. Constantly consuming negative information - doom-scrolling on Twitter anyone? - can unknowingly put us in bad mental states or lead to spiralling depressive thoughts.
Connecting with community
After a year of being in lockdown we’re sure you don’t need us to tell you how integral human connection is to feeling whole.
It may seem daunting at first but there are a number of ways to connect with people in your community, and nurture relationships - new and old!
You can start by enquiring about the groups that hire space at your local sports centre, or searching the activity you’re interested in doing with people and your local area on Instagram or Facebook. Volunteering is also a great way to tap into your local community, and an opportunity to meet people from a range of different backgrounds.
AlgbraX supports a number of welcoming initiatives such as Cycle Sisters, with branches across London; CWSA ladies football in Wembley; and Chai Mama, tea mornings to financially empower mums and women in general.
Recharging our brain
Always much easier said than done - a good night’s sleep has wondrous effects on both our emotional stability and cognition functions, e.g. how we respond to stress, and our decision-making skills.
Research shows that sleep and mental health are intertwined. Sleep disturbances can exacerbate mental health issues, while mental health issues can also contribute to poor sleep.
Struggling to get to sleep? Meditation videos, classical music, or white noise can be helpful.
In it for the long haul
We know being strapped for cash can also mean being strapped for time, and though these activities may be free - they require time and energy.
At times it helps to see our mental health as an investment, i.e. taking the time to engage in these activities might feel time consuming in the short run, but in the long term it means being healthier and happier for longer, and is a more sustainable way to live and be present for the people we love.
Some resources on mental health you may find useful: