3 Things to Plan for your Future to ease your Mind.



There are many events in life that take us down different paths but there are certain things that are inevitable and some of these you can plan for to put your mind at ease. Current world events are a perfect example of some of the things that can happen as we see unexpected Covid-19 deaths and mass job loss.

But there are also things that can happen in life that we don’t necessarily want to think about or plan ahead for but they are a fact of life and shouldn’t be shied away from. By addressing some of these issues and planning for them we can ease our minds by planning for both the psychological impact and the financial burden that they can potentially place on us.

Some of the most significant events in life that we can plan for include:

  • Funeral
  • Retirement
  • Uncertain Times

Death is an inevitable part of life and can be eased with good planning while retirement can be thought of as a new chapter and we are all subject to uncertain events that can have a massive impact on our lives.

Plan for the Inevitable

We will all die and have loved ones and people close to us die as well, including parents, siblings, and hopefully not but possibly children as well as friends, relatives, and colleagues. A recent survey concluded that 20% of Americans are very afraid of dying and as such have developed a phobia of it.

However, accepting death as an inevitable part and a conclusion to your life can put a great ease on your mind. How you do this is up to you, whether it’s from a purely scientific point of view, religious or spiritual but a pragmatic approach to the eventuality of death can ease the burden of the unknown.

One of the first things you can do is arrange your own funeral process that you want to happen when you pass away. This might sound morbid, but making a plan of what you want to happen can ease the burden from yourself and more importantly your family. Not only can it ease the financial burden, which is very expensive, but the emotional as well. Your family will be in a state of grief and planning a funeral is the last thing they will want to do while stranded in the grieving process.

You could plan such things as whether you want to be buried or cremated and where, any services related to your religion and how you would like your life to be celebrated. It is becoming more common for people to forego a traditional funeral and opt for an intimate burial or cremation with their immediate family. Some providers can also arrange a payment plan well in advance of the inevitable and insurance companies offer this as part of their cover for older individuals.

Make Sure You Can Put Your Feet Up

Most of us love working, but we know that there will come a time when we can hopefully put our feet up and spend some time reflecting on a life well-lived when we retire. However, the prospect of retirement can be scary for some people because they might not know what they are going to do or whether they will have enough money.

Reportedly, 57% of retirement planning services found that running out of money was the top concern for their customers entering retirement. The great news is that there are lots of things you can do to alleviate retirement concerns with a little forward planning.

One of the best things you can do is to aim to retire without any debts. Even today, the average 60-year-old has around $19,000 of debt and that is a huge burden should you be facing retirement. Debt plans should be made at as early an age as possible and you should aim for a debt-free life before 50. 

Another way of easing your mind about the financial impact of retirement is to start a pension plan as soon as you can. Many organizations and companies offer pension plans as part of your employment agreement but you should consider a private pension as well. This will ensure that you get even more money when you retire which should be adequate to live on without having to continue work, post-retirement.

Savings also play an important part in retired life as they are the culmination of your life’s work. Try not to access your savings as the more that is saved, the more you will accrue in interest so you should switch to the highest interest savings account you can and take advantage of certificate deposits and other bank bonuses

Nobody Knows the Future

If the worldwide epidemic of 2020 and 2021 has taught us anything it is that we can never know what life is going to throw at us. The current disaster in Texas, USA is also a tragic example of the unpredictable nature of the weather which has cost over 40 lives and left millions without access to water and basic utilities.

No matter where you live, it is good sense to plan for anything that could potentially happen, especially if you live in a particularly vulnerable place. For example, should you live near the ocean, it might be a good idea to have a plan for flooding or if near a fault line, a plan for earthquakes.

But it isn’t just natural disasters that we should be mindful of. Financial disaster can also befall anybody such as with the 2008 crash or the current economic conditions brought on by Covid-19. The Asia-Pacific region, for example, has seen 81 million people lose their source of income because of the impact of the virus.

It is always a good idea to plan for your future if you are able to and save what you can when you can as a little extra can go a long way. Should you lose your job due to cuts or other reasons, it is likely you will be out of work for some time with the average time between jobs being 4 months. We are of course aware that mental ill health can mean you are out of work or have less money to be able to save so this is just a guide..

These life events can all be stressful and impact on your mental health, so make sure you reach for help should you need it from your doctor or a therapist.

This article was written by a freelance writer.

‘Out of Office Ditch the 9-5’: An Outstanding new book by author Fiona Thomas.

(image: Fiona Thomas/ Trigger Publishing)

Out of Office: Ditch the 9-5 and Be Your Own Boss, by my friend and author Fiona Thomas is an incredible read! I have known Fiona for some time as our writing careers overlapped. We both became freelance journalists for publications including Metro.co.uk and Happiful magazine at the same time. We then got book deals around the same time with Trigger Publishing and released our first books within a year of one another. Fiona is one of the loveliest humans in the mental health writer world and so I eagerly anticipated reading her new book.

Ostensibly, the book is a guide to ditching the 9-5 traditional workplace and going freelance! This is something Fiona has great knowledge of, having left the 9-5 after a breakdown in her 20s and being diagnosed with depression and anxiety. It took her a year to recover from this and as she had previously worked as a Manager, she knew she couldn’t go back to the pressure cooker. You can read more about this in her first book Depression in a Digital Age.

Instead, like me, she found solace in blogging online about mental health, then writing and becoming a freelance writer for many publications. Now, she is not only an author but a writing coach, journalist and in demand speaker!

Freelancing is booming for people who want a more flexible lifestyle or have found themselves out of work too. All you need is a laptop, phone and internet connection!

(image: Fiona Thomas)

Now, to the book Out of Office. The book is full of Fiona’s trademark wit- I felt like she was talking directly to me as I read it. She has so much knowledge to impart on how to navigate the freelance world, avoid its pitfalls and make a successful career (and what to do when things can go pear shaped too!).

Whether you are just thinking about going freelance, just starting out or a few years down the line, this guide addresses all the questions you might have about working for yourself and making the most of life. Designed to help you attain and enjoy a self employed career, the book challenges the misconceptions around freelancing and offers the pros and cons of taking the plunge.

Fiona covers topics such as how to raise an invoice and submit a tax return, how to sell yourself, coping with imposter syndrome (aka I’m just not good enough to be here), as well as why working from home is proven to have a positive impact on productivity and mental health.

Fiona is a mental health advocate and always strives to help others on their journeys. I loved how engaging the book was, how I couldn’t wait to read the next chapter and learn more. As a freelance writer/blogger/author myself, I knew this book would help me too (especially with the finances) and it is sitting in pride of place on my book shelf as I devoured it. I will definitely re read and use Out of Office as a reference point in the future too.

This is a must read and you can get a copy here and in all good bookshops.

About Fiona:

Fiona Thomas is a freelance writer who was born in Glasgow but now lives in Birmingham. She has been published in Metro, Reader’s Digest, Happiful Magazine and Grazia. Her passion is working with female-led businesses and shining a light on the positive impact that freelancing can have on our wellbeing. This is her second book. She blogs at fionalikestoblog.com

5 Things that could be triggering your Depression by Samantha Higgins.

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(image: Iforher.com)

Almost everyone goes through an episode of depression at some point in life. For some, the problem is severe and protracted. During the episodic depression, bouts leave you feeling hopeless and exhausted, making it difficult to be productive and present in your daily life. Although depression is a severe health condition, treatment brings hope to the affected. Once depression symptoms are controlled, knowing common triggers and how to avoid them can save you from a depressive episode.

It is important to seek help in the form of treatment from a doctor- whether that is medication or counselling.

Feeling Overwhelmed

When you feel that stressors, such as tight deadlines, are too challenging to manage, you become overwhelmed. Emotional overwhelm is more than feeling stressed. It means you are completely submerged by emotions and thoughts about your current problems, to a point of feeling paralysed.

It is a scary and confusing experience that might leave you with limited functionality and an inability to think and act rationally. Whether caused by stressful times at your workplace or traumatic experiences of loss, overwhelm can trigger depression. Minimise depression triggers by knowing your limits and boundaries of what you can take in and what can cause overwhelm. For overwhelming tasks, break them down into smaller, manageable tasks for you to complete in steps.

 

Financial Worries

Money woes are a common source of stress that can cause a depressive episode. Focus on projects that increase your financial stability like side hustles. Avoid concentrating on what you do not have since it increases your worry. Customize your budget and do regular reviews to stay aware of your cash flow and financial situation.

Create a savings plan and make monthly deposits to the account so that you are less worried about the future. Go for local events that are free or cost-effective so that you can socialise at a budget. Remain engaged with your hobbies or spend time with loved ones to avoid overthinking about your financial situation.

Seek support from your doctor, if needed.

 

Alcohol Abuse

Some people indulge in alcohol and other substances to cope with depression. Most are drawn to alcohol’s sedative effects to help distract them from feelings of sadness. While alcohol can relieve some of depression’s symptoms in the short term, it can worsen depression in the long run.

As a person experiences the financial and social consequences of alcohol misuse, their worries increase, and relationships deteriorate, leading to an episode of depression. This leads to a vicious cycle of alcohol abuse to self-medicate some symptoms of depression. If taking antidepressants for depression, avoid alcohol since the depressant effects of alcohol counterattacks the effectiveness of antidepressants.

 

Poor Sleep Habits

There is a direct relationship between poor sleep and depression episodes. People that sleep less than six hours and more than eight hours have a high risk of experiencing recurrent depressive episodes than those who sleep the recommended six to eight hours. Practice good sleep habits, such as maintaining a consistent bed and wake time.

Turn off all electronics hours before bedtime to avoid overstimulation for better sleep. Reduce any source of discomfort, such as an old mattress. Look for the best adjustable mattress bases for maximum comfort and relaxed nighttime. Take a warm bath, meditate, or have a warm glass of milk to help you fall asleep fast.

 

A Poor Diet

Dietary habits can lead to depressive episodes. Consume more healthy foods with a focus on whole foods and fresh fruits and vegetables for improved mental health. Limit processed and refined foods, including junk and fried foods. Look for foods high in selenium like whole grains and Brazil nuts to reduce anxiety and improve mood, making depression manageable.

Go for vitamin B sources such as egg, poultry, fish, and lean meat as they help to reduce the symptoms and risk of mood disorders, including depression. Eat food rich in zinc or use zinc supplements to enhance the effectiveness of antidepressants for better depression management. Hydrate regularly with water or soft drinks for better moods.

Depression can be life-changing due to frequent worries, but treatment- medication and counselling can help manage the disorder. Make lifestyle modifications such as a healthy diet, better sleep, and less worry for improved well-being. 

 

This guest blog was written by Samantha Higgins.

            

 

Bamboo sheets- A potential cure giving better quality sleep and less Anxiety at night.

 

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(image: Cosy House Collection)

With around 33% of people getting less than the recommended amount of sleep (less than 7 hours), many have turned to using bamboo sheets as a way to cool them down in the warmer months and reduce sleep stress and anxiety.

We are all getting worse quality sleep year-on-year, no doubt impacted by the intense box sets we watch on Netflix just before bed, blue light coming from our phones, ongoing stress and money woes.

The start-up and tech industry is seeing a wave of new inventions to help with sleep, from cooling pyjamas, weighted blankets, noise defenders and sleep monitoring apps.

However, one of the latest products to win over sleepers is bamboo sheets and pillow cases. This soft and light fabric is quickly being the first choice over traditional cotton or linen.

Bill Fish, the co-founder of sleep resource, Tuck, explains: “Our first choice when looking for breathable sheets is linen. It tends to be cooler than cotton, but more importantly the quality of the fabric can look and feel good for years to come. If you are looking for eco-friendly breathable sheets, bamboo is an excellent choice. It is hypoallergenic, and also feels gentle to the touch.”

Bamboo, made from the bamboo plant, is known for being light, comfortable and its properties are soft and breathable. Being thermo-regulating, bamboo works by keeping cool in the heat, and staying warm in the cold, making it perfect for summer and winter and something that you can use all year around.

The breathability of bamboo should help those with stress and anxiety, which is unsurprisingly the leading cause of insomnia.

In addition to helping people sleep through temperature control, bamboo sheets are hypoallergenic and can help produce better quality sleep by reducing stuffiness of the nose and head.

Bamboo sheets and pillow cases may not be the full answer for a bad night sleep or ongoing sleep issues – however, it is should certainly be seen as way you can optimise your sleep and living surroundings, in addition to the right lighting and avoid using your phone before bed.

Other notable methods to improve sleep quality including avoiding caffeine and alcohol up to 8 hours before you go to sleep, adjusting the light in your room, reviewing your mattress or speaking to a Doctor for professional advice.

Bamboo sheets are available from Cosy House Collection for less than $60 (£50) and includes one fitted sheet, flat sheet and 2 pillow cases.

This blog was written by Cosy House Collection for quality luxury yet affordable home essentials.

How Debt can have a huge impact on your Mental health by Ian Sims

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(image: Money Under 30)

With the coronavirus outbreak, it is a worrying time for many of us financially. With that in mind, today we would like to share this about debt and mental health: 

Worries about money can hugely influence your overall wellbeing. A study conducted in 2019 showed that 9.5 million people in the UK have issues with their mental health, in direct relation to money woes, whilst a staggering 18 million worry about lack of money daily (source:N26).

How mental health impacts your finances

Research conducted by National Debtline indicates that approximately one in four adultswill experience an issue with their mental health within any given year. It is worth noting mental health incompasses a range of conditions and experiences, including:

● Anxiety

● Depression

● Bipolar disorder

● Phobias

● Schizophrenia

● Dementia

It is also worth highlighting that having a mental health issue or condition does not automatically mean you will struggle with finances or debt. However, it may make it harder to deal with. Research indicates that around half of all adults in the UK who are having debt problems also have a mental health issue (source: National Debtline).

It can causes a vicious cycle of problem health and finances

Unfortunately, feelings of stress, anxiety and even depression relating to growing fears about lack of money can lead to a vicious circle. It can impact your finance management abilities in a variety of ways. For example, serious anxiety or depression may cause you to lose energy or avoid your debt entirely. This may lead someone to avoid keeping up to date of their finances.

Problems with mental health could also affect finances if it means that it reaches a serious point where the person is required to take time off work. Depending on their individual circumstances (such as whether they are entitled to sick leave or not) this could mean a sharp reduction in their income. Unfortunately, this might have the unintended impact of making their mental health worse.

Other signs that debt is causing an impact on one’s health mentally include:

● Become overwhelmed or sick at the thought of the debt you are in

● Starting to withdraw completely from family and friends due to debt anxiety

● Symptoms of preexisting mental health conditions such as depression, are worsening

● Struggling to eat properly

● Struggling to sleep

● Regularly underperforming at work

What you can do if you are in debt and struggling with mental health

Do not suffer in silence, there are a number of places you can turn to that are confidential and free. This includes services such as the Samaritans or Mind. There are also debt charities dedicated to providing advice on how to get out of your debt, such as StepChange and National Debtline.

If you are looking to lower or consolidate your debts, you can look at debt management companies, but please note that they make take a fee for using their services

If you need help in the current crisis with getting Universal Credit or other welfare benefits for job loss or want to know more about managing your finances, check out the government and money websites such as MoneySavingExpert by Martin Lewis.

This blog was written by expert and freelance writer Ian Sims.

 

 

How to reduce Stress and maintain Mental health during a Divorce: Guest blog by Luci Larkin at Woolley&Co

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(image: https://sasforwomen.com/divorce-quotes-inspirational/)

Going through a divorce or relationship breakdown can be one of the most stressful situations a person can find themselves in. You lose your friend, partner, confidante and have to adapt to living as a single person, often as the primary carer of children. 

This is a time of extreme and mixed emotions made more complicated by the stresses and worries of legal and financial considerations as well as having to support and counsel any children that may be involved and suffering too.

With mental health problems on the rise and divorce being listed as one of the leading contributors, Luci Larkin from Family Law Solicitors, Woolley & Co, explains how you can reduce stress during such a turbulent time in your life.

“If you have decided your marriage is over you will most probably want to make the whole process of divorce as painless as possible. Contrary to public perception not all divorces have to involve outright war leaving a trail of destruction and despair.

Every individual going through a relationship breakdown will deal with this in their own way. Some prefer to carry on as though nothing has happened, others find it cathartic to talk to someone about their problems.”

It’s fair to say that anyone going through a separation or divorce is going to experience a series of emotional stages post-breakdown. These could range from anger and depression to fear and frustration. All perfectly normal feelings and reactions to an emotionally difficult situation. It’s important to recognise these feelings but to try and stay positive. 

Sometimes the support of friends and family is enough to see a person through, others may need more help such as counselling or medical advice.

With the right divorce lawyer you should be able to resolve a divorce sensibly enabling you and your children to move on with your lives in the most amicable and constructive way.” 

So what is the secret? 

Divorce lawyers’ tips for a less stressful divorce

Luci explains, “As tempting as it is to take advice from your best friend or the “know it all guy” in the pub it’s really important to seek proper professional advice. Couple this with my 5 tips below:

 

  1. Talk to a family lawyer who is ideally a member of Resolution committed to resolving disputes in a non-confrontational way.
  2. Listen to the professional advice given to you and try to act upon it. Always negotiate before you litigate. Compromise is the essence of any agreement.
  3. Inevitably there will be disagreements with your spouse but try to keep emotions under control and avoid verbal abuse and threats. This will simply lead to them becoming difficult and inflexible. You do not want a war.
  4. Try to avoid involving the children or using them as a pawn. They are innocent in this situation and they will need the love and support of both parents. Ideally sit down and agree a parenting plan.
  5. Think about timing. You may have been thinking about a divorce for years whereas your partner may only have received the news a matter of weeks ago. Expecting your spouse to discuss future living arrangements at a time when they are still reeling from the news that you want to end the marriage, may be unrealistic. You might have to slow down for a while, be patient, and wait until they are ready to move things forward.”

Whilst getting a divorce is clearly not an ideal situation it does not have to be a time consuming, stressful, unpleasant money pit.

Sensible advice coupled with calm cooperation can help to ensure the experience is as painless and cost effective as possible but more importantly that you and your children can move forward with your lives in the best possible way.

Luci is an experienced and approachable divorce and family solicitor with Woolley & Co, based in Barnet, Greater London.  Her working mantra is to establish what clients want and move towards achieving that outcome as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible. 

 

How stressed are UK Students in 2019? Guest post by the Natwest Student Living Index

 

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(Image: Natwest Student Living Index)

The NatWest Student Living Index 2019 has launched recently,  delving into both stress and mental health for students at university.
https://personal.natwest.com/personal/life-moments/students-and-graduates/student-living-index.html

University-age students are more engaged with mental health and wellbeing than ever, and the study found that 1 in 4 students are very satisfied with their university’s mental health support.

Other noteworthy findings from the survey include:
• 71% of students say that their university offers affordable health and wellbeing programs (gym classes, yoga, meditation, mindfulness)
• 40% of students are concerned about their financial situation following university
• 45% of students find their university degree stressful
• 1 in 4 UK students find managing money stressful

The 2019 NatWest Student Living Index revealed that close to half of all UK students feel
extremely stressed by their degree studies. 1 in 4 students in the UK described managing their money as extremely stressful, while only 6% felt they received sufficient money management support from their university on average.

NatWest’s Student Living Index 2019 asked students from 35 top university cities about all aspects of student life, including the amount of wellbeing and mental health support on offer for students at university in 2019.

Is their degree the cause of the stress? On average, 45% of students in the UK feel extremely stressed by their degree  Cambridge (60%) and Durham (57%) students are the most stressed by their degree studies.
Have Universities supported students with mental health resources?

1 in 4 students are very satisfied with their university’s mental health resources, while 71% said that their university offers affordable health and wellbeing programs.
Interestingly, while students in Poole feel the most stressed by money management, the city also came last when students were asked about the availability of affordable well-being programs:

 53% of students in Poole said their university offers affordable well-being programs, this is the lowest ranked city and 18% below national average.

 Less than 1% of Students in Reading and Stirling feel supported by their university when managing their finances.

 94% of students in Aberystwyth feel their university offers affordable well-being programs

Are you a student in the UK? Read more about the findings here:  https://personal.natwest.com/personal/life-moments/students-and-graduates/student-living-index.html