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Mental Mondays: How To Stay Mentally And Emotionally Balanced With Money

Mental Mondays: How To Stay Mentally And Emotionally Balanced With Money


Once, someone randomly asked me: “Are you depressed, sad, or do you need money?” While this should never be the first question to ask anyone who feels down, I realized that a credit alert surprisingly caused my troubled emotions to become still again at some point in life. Apparently, all it took was to see money in my account — an automatic mood booster.

Another contrasting scenario of how money affects our mental health, emotions, and behavior was the case of Derick — a close friend of mine. He was driven, ambitious, and amassed a great deal of money as a result. However, it beat the imagination of those around him to notice that the more money he made, the sadder he became. He seemed meaner and too conscious of his money. Trust became a thing of the past, as he thought that everyone around him was on a gold-digging mission.

The connection between money and mental health

There is a 2017 survey which was carried out by The American Psychology Association, named “Stress in America.” This research found that “money” ranks 2nd among prominent stressors for Americans. The implication of financial stress on a person’s mental health is an obvious stretch in our society. When your life needs are hardly met, a natural feeling of sadness is likely to surface. Sometimes, enough to alter one’s daily routine activities.

Ironically, further research has shown that while richer individuals might experience a form of satisfaction from having all monetary needs met, it isn’t a one-way ticket to happiness either. Bearing in mind that humans are social beings, this surprising sadness might be due to the self-imposed physical isolation that comes from being more successful.

Money might not make you happier

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Monica was so happy she finally got her dream job. She couldn’t wait to move into her new condo and away from her family members. Of course, the first 2 weeks felt like bliss as the resounding silence calmed her nerves. She could finally afford her own house and it was high time her folks treated her with some respect. After a few months, Monica felt this feeling of loneliness tugging at her very core. She would shop online or step out to a fancy restaurant for lunch but she realized the more successful she got the more boundaries she set for herself, and the less interesting her world became.

She always wondered about people’s motives, “If I wasn’t rich would they want to associate with me?” Consequently, she became less generous, and a tad bit mean, and thus, people naturally stayed away from her. “Run along now, you lazy bunch, sitting around and expecting manna to fall from heaven…” she would often say.

Does this mean that a rich person would never find pure happiness?

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The answer is no but as you grow financially, be conscious of the virtues and vices that come with this new financial status. We also need to avoid the temptation of independence and embrace the philosophy of interdependence. The reality remains that as humans, we can’t reach a level of happiness without fostering at least one meaningful relationship.

A lack of money isn’t any better either!

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Money is a ready villain in the plot of our lives—more than we would want to admit. Financial stress is a major source of mental and emotional strain on an average adult’s life. The fear of financial instability has led a huge amount of people to consider vices they naturally wouldn’t. These anxious feelings can also cripple a person’s ability to take financial risks. “What if I lose everything? I’ll just keep the money in a savings account…” There’s a significant amount of individuals who have also resorted to suicide as the picture of a perfect future became blurred out.

What could be the balance?

The link between money and sadness is as strong as the relationship of money to life satisfaction. Simply put, a lack of money may heighten feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and despair but being rich might leave you lonely and sad as well. The key is living a conscious life of purpose and selflessness.

Check out how to make the relationship between money and mental health work for you…

#1. Forgive yourself first

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I recall sitting in my room one night and beating myself up for all the financial mistakes I had made in the past. “What was I thinking blowing all that money on a vacation and now I’ve lost my job? If I saved all the money my mom lavished on me, especially as a student, perhaps adult life would be livable…”

Living in the past makes issues spiral out of control. Start by forgiving yourself because if you knew better, you’d do better. The main approach should be futuristic, “What do I do to get myself out of a financial rut? What’s the next step for me?” Combat these feelings of regret with an appropriate measure of doggedness that screams; “This isn’t going to befall me again, ever!” Deep breath! After assuring yourself, create a foolproof financial plan and an accountability system to balance things out because words without work could get equally frustrating.

#2. Consciously step out

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A popular Nigerian saying goes, “No food for lazy man.” While this slogan has motivated many to double their hustle, it has also created “ashamed” humans who prefer isolation to being present in social circles. “My classmates from the University would be there, pulling up in different rides and I can barely afford an Uber. Her husband gifted her a new SUV and she wears the best designers, I can’t meet up for a drink. I will pay attention to my social life when I make it in life…”

Outdoor activities are great depression fighters — make an effort to step out of your house every now and then. Also, bear in mind that everyone is fighting their personal battles. This is a phase in your life that won’t last forever, so head out and have fun within reasonable limits of course.

#3. Stop living beyond your means

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Contentment is a virtue worth adding to your character box. I once had a cousin (Yes, ‘had’), who was in a mental competition with everyone. She could go broke trying to appear rich and in control but it was glaring that she was fast losing a grip on herself. The incessant debts caught up with her and you can predict how that story ended. Learning to live below your means, delaying gratification, and practicing gratitude will help you stay mentally and emotionally balanced with money. The biggest problem is often, “What will people say?” But I ask you, Who’s really watching? Someone somewhere wants your life badly, remember to stay grateful.

Featured image: KAI MA | Unsplash

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