Money Wellness
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calendar icon04 Apr 2024

Stress Awareness Month 2024: Half of UK adults impacted by financial stress

Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992 to increase public awareness about both the causes and things that can help reduce the stress in our lives.

One big contributor to stress is money.

Signs of financial stress:

There will be many signs that your finances are causing you stress, but some of the most obvious ones are:

  • arguing with the people closest to you about money
  • difficulty sleeping
  • feeling angry, fearful or experiencing mood swings
  • tiredness, aches and pains
  • withdrawing from others
  • feeling guilty when you spend money
  • delaying buying things you need, due to the cost

 Financial stress research

Recent research from St. James’s Place (SJP), highlights how money worries are impacting everything from our sleep, work, relationships and for one in seven, causing serious stress and anxiety. 

From their annual Financial Health research, it was found that 47% adults have found their mental health has been affected by financial worries, with this figure increasing to 66% among 18- to 34-year-olds.   

The research also found:

  • 25% of adults say their mood has been affected by financial stress
  • 18% are losing sleep
  • 17% have become anxious about going out or seeing anyone else due to financial stress
  • 21% have thought about taking time off work due to stress
  • 19% have found their relationship with loved ones affected
  • 15% have suffered from stress related conditions
  • 13% suffered from depression
  • 19% have been forced to cook and buy cheaper, less healthy food

 Even though the findings are bleak, the research did find that four in ten adults have a financial plan, making them feel more confident in navigating a difficult economic backdrop. This shows that if you have financial plan in place, it may help ease some of your stress.

Alexandra Loydon, Director of Engagement and Consultancy at St. James’s Place, said “It’s going to be important for people to take as many steps as they can to help with their financial situation, in order to try to take care of their physical and mental wellbeing too. 

Seeking advice and support and having a financial plan in place will help people to take back some control of their finances, as well as maximise their ability to build financial resilience. Speaking about finances can be a sensitive topic for many; however, it’s important people shouldn’t feel alone and are able to share their concerns, so that they can access help where they need it. ”

How can I beat financial stress?

Get to know your money and budget

Work out how much you spend on bills a month. For things like internet or phone bills, you might want to consider cheaper options. It’s also a good idea to take into account any savings you’ve got, and if you have a pension pot.

Once you know exactly what you get each month, and how much you need to spend on essentials, rent or mortgage repayments and bills, you should have a better picture of how you need to budget each month. If you can, it’s a good idea to set aside some money each month for emergencies- and this may ease your stress.

Know what help is available to you

If you need help with your finances but you’re not sure where to start the following are good first steps to take:

  • Grants- Turn2Us is a charity that provides information and practical support to people in financial difficulty. They’ll match you with any grants you may be able to apply for.
  • Benefits- check if you're entitled to any here.
  • Hardship payments- Hardship payments are for people whose benefits have been reduced or stopped. You need to pay them back. You’ll need to contact your local Job Centre to apply if you’re on Universal Credit, JSA or ESA.
  • Help from your local council- Your local council may have a welfare assistance scheme to help if you need emergency cash or supplies. The support available varies from council to council, but you may be able to get a small loan, a grant, food vouchers or free second-hand furniture, depending on your situation. You can also apply to the household support fund through your local council.
  • Rent - You should contact your landlord or letting agent. Tell them why you’re struggling to pay the full amount and offer them a payment plan you can currently afford.
  • Mortgage payments- Contact your mortgage provider if you’ve missed any payments or you’re worried about future payments.
  • Utility bills-You need to contact your energy supplier if you’re struggling to pay your bills. Energy providers must work with you to agree to a payment plan. Some energy providers will offer grants to help pay energy bills.
  • Water bills- Contact your water provider if you’re struggling to pay bills. Most water suppliers should have ways they can give you support through financial difficulty.  

Our free debt advice is available to people all over the UK, online or over the phone. We’ll go through your finances in detail and explain your options. You might be surprised at the range of help available. We can:

  • help you with budgeting
  • advise you on debt solutions

 There are various debt solutions available that reduce your monthly debt repayments and even write off some of your debt. We’ll let you know if any of them are suitable for you. All our advice is free. Some debt solutions are free, while others come with a fee. We’ll give you all the information you need to make an informed decision and, if we recommend a debt solution and you decide to go ahead, we’ll help get it set up.

You can read our guide for more details before getting in touch if you’d like.

Share your worries with loved ones

Being in financial hardship might feel embarrassing and you might feel like you have to deal with it alone, but that’s not true. If you’ve got supportive loved ones around you, tell them what you’re going through. They might not be able to help directly, but talking to someone will ease the burden of carrying your stress alone.

Look after your health 

Try your best to eat a healthy, balanced diet and exercise regularly. Talk to your doctor if you have a medical condition that can be made worse by stress, and they might be able to suggest ways to manage it.

Mental health charity Mind suggests taking time to understand your relationship with money.

  • You could try answering these questions:
  • Are there certain times when you’re more likely to spend money?
  • Are there certain times when you’re more likely to save money?
  • How does it feel when you spend money?
  • Do you feel differently when you’re spending and saving?
  • What are the emotions and feelings you think of, when you think about money?
  • Which aspects of dealing with money make your mental health worse? For example, it could be things like attending appointments, opening envelopes, confrontation, or being misunderstood.

Understanding your relationship with money, and the root of your financial stress may help you move forward with getting financial help or your own financial plans and budgets.

Remember, you’re not alone. Our help is always available

Avatar of Lydia Bell-Jones

Lydia Bell-Jones

With a background in banking, Lydia has been writing professionally for over five years. She is passionate about helping people improve their personal finances and has a particular interest in the connection between money and mental health.

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