The mental health foundation chose anxiety to kickstart a conversation, encouraging people to share their own experiences and any helpful ideas on how to manage anxiety.
Everyone can experience feelings of unease, worry or fear from time to time. These are normal emotions. But if we don’t know how to cope with our feelings of anxiety, they can get out of control and stop us from doing the things we need or want to do. The more often and the longer we feel anxious, the more it can become a problem.
Why do we care and what are we doing about it?
Earlier this week we published selected statistics from our Financial Lives cost of living (Jan 2023) recontact survey, to give an insight into the financial situation UK adults experienced over the 6 months to January 2023. The survey found that the toll on mental wellbeing was considerable, with just over 1 in 2 UK adults, or 28.4 million people, more anxious or stressed due to the rising cost of living.
These survey findings highlight the continued importance of ensuring consumers get appropriate support when facing financial difficulty and ideally seeking such support at an early stage.
"Sometimes saying what’s worrying you out loud can take away its power over you."
The help people need to deal with the rising cost of living and associated anxiety goes beyond financial services. But the industry has a vital role to play in supporting people during these challenging times. We have set clear standards and expectations for how consumer credit, mortgage and insurance firms should help customers in financial difficulty, and we are taking assertive regulatory action where firms fail to meet them.
We have also reminded firms that if a customer is in vulnerable circumstances, they should provide them with an appropriate level of care and support.
My own experience
Like most people I have experienced anxiety at different times during my life. I have been lucky that for the most part these have been the normal emotions associated with things like exams or job interviews. But for me this changed during lockdown when I became the victim of sustained and prolonged harassment. The harassment was insidious and over time anxiety became an almost constant companion.
Work was a welcome distraction, but when I wasn’t working there were times when I felt powerless, overwhelmed and like I might break. It wasn’t until I sought help, by reporting the harassment to the police, and took more time to look after myself, that the anxiety became more manageable and eventually started to recede.
"It’s important to find time to protect your well-being and mental health."
My experience made me realise how important it is to look after your mental health and I still take regular walks in the fresh air with friends or my favourite music playing to support my mental health.
What can we do individually?
I know that dealing with anxiety can be hard. Worrying about things every day means it can be hard to find the time to look after yourself and it may feel like you do not have the headspace to take on anymore.
But even when there's so much going on, it’s important to find time to protect your well-being and mental health and there are some things we can all do that might help.
Get support for money worries
We encourage anyone struggling to keep up with payments to contact their lender or insurance provider for support. Consumers can also visit MoneyHelper for useful tips on living on a squeezed income and to find free, expert debt advice.
Connect with people and talk about how you feel
Anxiety can feel isolating. Connecting and spending time with others can really help with this. If you feel able to talk to people about how you feel, it can help to reduce your anxiety. Sometimes saying what’s worrying you out loud can take away its power over you.
Movement is a great way to deal with anxiety. It doesn’t have to involve vigorous activity, gentle stretches, seated exercises or just going for a walk. Sometimes all you need is something to take your mind out of the anxious thoughts to get a bit of relief.
And for anyone whose anxiety is becoming unmanageable or having a profound effect on day to day living we encourage them to seek support from a doctor or a medical professional. The Mental Health Foundation and Anxiety UK also provide a wide range of tips and resources on how to manage anxiety and access the support you might need.