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The Delicate Balance Between Finances, Mental Health, and Physical Wellbeing

Delicate Balance Between Finances, Mental Health, and Physical Wellbeing

There’s a theory about living a successful life. Some believe that life can be divided into four categories. Health and wellness. Family. Career, and personal fulfillment. The theory goes that you can have two—sometimes even three of these things going well, but almost no one gets to have all four.

It’s a cynical idea, but also one that often comes to fruition for people whose lives feel like one long rinse-and-repeat sequence of work, Netflix, and never quite enough sleep. 

Is there a way to have everything? In this article, we take a look at ways to experience financial stability without sacrificing everything else. 

There is no separation

In the introduction, we described the way people’s lives are divided into different categories. And while that was (hopefully) an apt way to describe what it feels like to navigate through life, in reality, separation is an illusion. You are the same person at work as you are with your friends and family.

For that reason, when someone goes wrong professionally, financially, or personally, it tends to bleed into all the other aspects of your life. 

If you feel stressed, it can harm your performance at work. If you work less, or not as well, you might earn less money. If you earn less money, you’ll become more stressed. If you become more stressed, your health will decline. If your health declines—well. You get it. It’s like one of those “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” books, but not nearly as funny. 

For that reason, it’s important to establish a balance between all aspects of your life and learn how to treat yourself well. 

Consider financial therapy

If finances are weighing on your mind, it may be time to consider financial therapy. Similar to a financial planner, financial therapists can help you work toward your financial goals. The difference lies in their approach. Financial therapists consider not just the financial aspect of your life, but also the mental and emotional side, helping you work through money-induced stress.

They may also evaluate your financial behavior, helping you to recognize habits that might be keeping you from meeting your money-related goals. 

Prioritize your physical health

Too many people fail to think about their health until they are suffering from a health-related crisis. Reactive healthcare pales in comparison to the benefits of being proactive. Good diet, exercise, and regular wellness visits can go a long way toward helping improve your long-term health. 

Many people feel intimidated by the healthcare system. It’s no secret that medical bills can be overwhelmingly high even for relatively minor issues. For uninsured people, it’s virtually inaccessible. 

Fortunately, there are resources out there that make it easier to enjoy regular healthcare services. Research state and even city programs to see if you and your family qualify for any resources that will make care more achievable. 

Some programs are even open to people who aren’t natural-born citizens. With a little bit of research savvy, most people can attain some form of care. 

Seek work-life balance

Work is one of the primary sources of stress in most people’s lives. When you are concerned with your finances, terms like “work-life balance” feel extravagant and unrealistic. Truth be told, in certain circumstances, they can be. If you are struggling to keep food on the table, you will probably need to focus primarily on providing for your family before you work on balancing your professional life. 

Just the same, there are usually ways you can make things a little easier for yourself. These include:

  • Speaking with your employer. Many employers provide ways for their employees to experience a little breathing room on the job. Flex hours. Remote work opportunities. Shortened work weeks. See if there is an option available to help reduce the stress in your life. 
  • See if your place of work has mental health resources. Many employers also provide mental health resources to their employees. This can include stress reduction programs like meditation and yoga classes, or even professional mental health services. 
  • Detox from work. When you aren’t working, do everything in your power to clear your brain of work-related concerns. Stop checking your email. Don’t worry about that project. It can all wait until tomorrow. 

Through mindfulness and deliberate effort, it is possible to remove some of the stress from working life. 

Financial health is relative

In the year 1925, only half of US homes had electricity. Only 9% of people had televisions in the year 1950. In 1987, only 15% of American homes had personal computers. And smartphones, which are now ubiquitous (85% of adults in the United States own them) have only existed in their current form for about fifteen years. 

This is all to say that so many of the things that feel necessary today haven’t even existed for the full span of a human life yet. Material wealth and wellness are relative considerations that each person needs to make for themselves. 

Are you successful when you can afford to buy all of the latest gizmos, or is financial health something simpler and more fundamental? The ability to pay for groceries every month, and comfortably cover all of your mortgage payments?

This isn’t necessarily a Thoreau-like call to action to live off the land. It’s a legitimate point. Between modern appliances, the consistently growing average home size, and the proliferation of digital technology, Americans are living more complicated financial lives than they used to. 

If that’s what floats your boat, it’s fine. However, there are alternatives. Living beneath one’s means makes it easier to de-prioritize work, thus opening the door for more time with your family and friends. More space to focus on hobbies and health. 

Work isn’t the enemy, but over-consumption can be. Take a look at your financial goals and see if there are factors in your lifestyle that contradict them. If so, you may find that you can make a lot of progress just by rethinking some of your habits. 

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