The coronavirus pandemic has turned our world upside down, testing health organizations and local governments, impacting the stock market, and forcing non-essential business owners to shutter their stores. The World Health Organization began promoting public health measures like social distancing, increasing fears and uncertainties of being around people, including loved ones like friends and family. These stressful times have threatened physical health and economic stability, leaving people who have lost their jobs or taken pay cuts to worry about steady sources of income.
Financial problems are inseparable from our emotional and social wellbeing, and knowing how to deal with the financial challenges that arise during this period will help relieve a great deal of stress. Poverty leads to anxiety, stress, depression, and other mental issues. There are now millions of people whose income is uncertain amid the coronavirus outbreak and looming financial crisis. Those are the people who have lost their jobs or had their wages cut and are not accustomed to asking for help.
Managing stress and mental health issues caused by financial stress can lead you on a downward spiral if you don’t allow yourself to seek help. We encourage everyone experiencing these issues to reach out. There are resources to help you face financial difficulties and minimize the anxiety and depression that may come with these vulnerable times.
Accepting the New Normal
One of the most important factors shaping mental health and wellbeing amid the novel coronavirus pandemic and coping with coronavirus anxiety is how people respond to it. Everything is changing – the ways we behave, think, and relate to one another. Some changes are deliberate, but most of them are made unconsciously. We expect some of them to go as soon as the coronavirus crisis and health emergency ends, while others are potentially permanent and will define the new normal.
The virus spread has slowed down, businesses are opening, and people are going back to their regular work life. But while the economy slowly reopens, many find their financial stress levels rising. You may have lost your job or are in fear of losing your job as businesses struggle to navigate a “new normal” that may no longer consider them “essential.”
Many Americans are coping by welcoming the economy’s revival and expecting to return to their old lives. However, the life we return to will still be full of uncertainty, and many will plan for worst-case scenarios so they won’t be caught off-guard again. We don’t know whether the virus will resurge in the near future and increase the unemployment rate even more. Will we be able to travel to other parts of the world or plan for the future? What will the overall financial impact be until a vaccine for the virus is developed? There is a lot of speculation about where the world is heading, and people are anxious about what the new normal might look like. Change is difficult when we have little control over it.
We need to stay mentally strong in the face of an unforeseeable future. When it comes to financial distress, you need to address your problems with a combination of approaches – attack the issues you can solve and put in the effort to build some savings.
Securing Your Financial Freedom After COVID-19
There is no clear precedent for recovery from a global pandemic. However, what we do have now is more time to think and prepare. Mental health professionals will advise avoiding excessive worrying because this can lead to chronic depression and anxiety, while increasing the risk of physical health issues, such as high blood pressure and heart disease.
To ease your coronavirus anxiety, health experts tell people to protect themselves through activities that promote stress management. Some choose to binge-watch TV shows and movies, while others prefer to exercise or bake.
However, these tips for coping with COVID-19 anxiety only work for those who don’t also suffer from financial distress.
Take the opportunity to safeguard your financial health and manage financial distress. There are many things you can do to prepare for whatever is going to come our way, such as:
- Take care of your debt. Before the COVID-19 crisis came into play, the numbers showed us that 60% of Americans don’t even have a $1,000 emergency fund to cover simple, unexpected expenses (e.g., fixing a car). Since the national emergency was declared 10 weeks ago, more than 40 million people have filed for unemployment. Governmental and private financial institutions are offering debt relief programs, and you should make the best of them – debt consolidation and debt settlement programs can help you reduce the amount you owe. Also, you can consolidate your debts from multiple creditors and give yourself some peace of mind when it comes to making your monthly payments.
- Building an emergency fund. Since many people reduced their expenses and are spending money only on essentials, perhaps there’s some room to start creating an emergency fund. Having an emergency and protection fund (to cover 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses) will provide an immensely satisfying feeling. A lack of financial confidence often makes us feel anxious, and that feeling will be reduced or removed when we have an emergency fund in place.
- Dealing with job loss. If you haven’t filed for unemployment benefits by now, you should do it immediately. The federal government and state programs provide benefits due to COVID-19. Check your state’s unemployment insurance website for details on its unemployment program. To receive the same health insurance coverage you had under your employer, you could switch to COBRA, but you’ll have to pay it yourself at a higher cost. If you cannot find a job within your profession, consider learning new skills or starting a side-hustle. Some industries that are hiring remote workers right now are technology, healthcare, and education companies.
Coping with Financial Stress Due to Coronavirus
According to financial experts and psychologists, financial anxiety and stress are increasingly common. Even when businesses reopen and states lift the national emergency measures, the return to a new normal will be slow because tens of millions of Americans have been laid off or furloughed during the crisis. The emotional and economic toll will be felt for a long time, as millions more will continue to worry that their financial health could be endangered as companies make changes to protect their bottom line. You can reduce your financial stress by:
- Canceling your auto-payment subscriptions. If you’re worried about short-term finances, you should think about all the costs you can control. If you have any subscriptions, it is time to reconsider and prioritize them based on what can help decrease your expenditure and generate revenue. Pause all your auto payments and focus on the most necessary expenses. There are so many things that you’re paying for that you can live without, so limit yourself for a while to get your finances back on track.
- Diversify your income. Many jobs that seemed stable are not as secure as we thought. By creating multiple streams of income, you will feel more confident about your future financial situation. You can begin by selling things that you don’t use, offer your services online, or search for short-term work on freelancing platforms.
- Establish your priorities. This is the perfect time to reassess how you are spending your energy, time, and money. Cut out things you don’t have to do or want to do anymore and prioritize activities that are in line with your goals. If you don’t have enough money in savings and don’t prioritize how you spend the money that is currently available to you, the chances are that you’ll run low on money at some point.
- Apply for financial help. Instead of waiting for your money to dry up, sign up for all the financial help that you may be eligible for (related to family medical, disability, or unemployment leave). The rules for financial help vary by state, and as the government strives to determine better ways of addressing the pandemic, new laws may unfold.
- Embrace uncertainty and let go of things you cannot control. Don’t think too far ahead; focus on the here and now. People try to manage financially-related stress and anxiety by making a plan, but when the future is so uncertain, that can be challenging. Also, putting pressure on yourself to deal with things that are out of your control is not worth the mental energy and stress. Make a plan based on what you know now and ask for help from a credit counselor when you need it. Otherwise, unproductive thoughts will put you in a never-ending cycle of stress.
- Credit counseling. If you don’t know what to do, it would be best to talk to a credit counselor. They will present all the money-saving options available to you, such as debt management, consolidation, or settlement. In a debt management program, creditors may offer lower interest rates and consolidation of debt into one monthly payment. If you’re feeling out of control with your debt, you may need a little help to get things in order.
During times of natural disasters and financial crises, debt consolidation is a simplification of your debt repayment strategy that can remove a significant amount of stress from your life. Since you will be paying less interest, your loan will be cheaper in the long run. Agencies like Churchill Credit Solutions can provide credit counseling and debt consolidation services, and we can speak to lenders on your behalf to get the best deal for relieving your financial situation. If that means putting money back in your pocket each month, it is definitely worth your consideration.
Worrying about money and increasing credit card debt during this difficult time has caused financial stress, particularly for those who don’t have emergency savings. With the world economy due for another slowdown in combination with other economic disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak, we are standing on the precipice of a long and difficult global recession. Therefore, taking control of your income, expenses, and debt is crucial for managing your emotions and removing stress from your life. If you need additional help, feel free to contact Churchill Credit Solutions, and we will discuss how you can financially protect yourself and your household. Feel free to request credit counseling on our website to become familiar with our debt management programs.