Do you go to bed at night worrying about how you’re going to pay your staff and bills this month? That your premises heating costs have gone up so much that you need to take out a loan to cover next month’s payment? Or even that this is going to be yet another month that you don’t pay yourself? Do you wake up the next day with a feeling of dread that covers you like a weighted blanket that you can’t pull off? And that’s before you’ve even got to the office!
People with problem debt are significantly more likely to experience mental health problems, whether it is their company’s financial situation that is in dire straits or if it is their own personal debt. This is an unavoidable fact. 86% of respondents to a Money and Mental Health survey of nearly 5,500 people with experience of mental health problems said that their financial situation had made their mental health problems worse.
We all hear on a daily basis in the press that the country is in the depths of a cost of living crisis, that businesses are struggling and families are having to choose between eating or putting the heating on, but how can you stop it from invading your every thought? And how can you pull the plug on those depressing thoughts before your mental health really starts to suffer?
Tips to help your business
Your business is a significant part of your life, and if it’s in financial difficulties this will filter into your personal life too. There are some strategies that you can use to help your company’s money situation:
- Take stock of your finances. It might feel easier to avoid your anxiety by burying your head in the sand, but if you don’t know how big the problem is, you can’t do anything to fix it. Get your bookkeeping up to date and make sure you understand exactly who owes you money, and how much money you owe your suppliers or the tax man;
- Work out what the demands on your cash are for the next 30 to 60 days. Your accountant will be able to help with pulling together a short term cashflow forecast. Discussing that with them will help you to work out what you can do to improve your cashflow, and they will also be able to provide assistance with credit control if your debtors are taking longer and longer to pay;
- Depending on the situation it may be that the business can access funding to help with short term cashflow pressure such as an overdue tax bill. But make sure that if you take out a loan you understand what the implications are, and that the repayments are manageable and won’t pile on extra pressure;
- Look to make small changes to your business’s expenses. Although saving a few pounds here and there can feel pointless it really is a case of every little helps. Look for software subscriptions that you can cancel as you’re not using them any more. Postpone any non essential spending, and make sure you aren’t spending on avoidable travel and entertainment;
- It sounds contradictory, but there may be some areas where you need to spend more to drive short term sales. Look for ways to bring in new customers, or to sell more to existing customers.
Tips to improve your mindset
There are also some simple tips that you can use to improve your mindset and to stave off anxiety and depression if you find that you’re bringing your business worries home with you at night:
- Stay active. See your friends for a chat and a bit of banter, or do some form of exercise as it has been proven that physical activity can improve your mood if you’re feeling low;
- Spend some time outdoors. Fresh air and daylight can really lift your spirits, especially on a sunny day;
- Face your fears. When people feel anxious about money they can withdraw and avoid talking to others. Get advice on how to handle your money from a trusted friend, your accountant, or the Citizens Advice Bureau. Just beginning to talk about your troubles can be like taking the lid off a pressure cooker!
- Do not give up your daily routine. Get up at your normal time and stick to your routine. Ensure that you eat healthily to keep your mind healthy;
- Tackle any insomnia or sleep difficulties by adopting a new sleep hygiene routine;
- Be grateful for the good things in your life. While you shouldn’t ignore the reality of the situation, it is easy to focus on all the negatives. By being mindful of the moment and appreciating a friend or loved ones support, or the beauty of a sunset, you can give your mind a break from the constant worrying, which will help to boost your mood and ease your stress.
What should I do if it all gets too much?
There are organisations that you can talk to, such as the charity Mind, which has a money and mental health section on its website. Mental Health & Money Advice offers information and advice for anyone whose financial situation is affecting their mental health.
You can refer yourself directly to an NHS talking therapies service, they are local and can offer an 8 week course of therapy with an appointed counsellor.
Most people will be able to pick themselves up after a few days or weeks and can tackle their challenges. However it is wise to contact your GP if you’re still feeling worried or anxious after a few weeks of trying alternative courses of action as listed above. There is no shame these days in admitting that you are struggling with your mental health, even the Royal Family are talking about it!
Just talk about it
We think that the biggest take away from this blog should be that talking helps. Any time, any place, any day. Talking doesn’t just have to be for Talk About It Day!