9 May 2022
People around the country are feeling the pressure as household budgets come under strain due to the rising cost of living.
Increasing energy prices, inflation, National Insurance contributions and more expensive shopping bills mean that many of us are having to make difficult decisions when it comes to our monthly spending.
With uncertainty about the cost of heating homes and how to eat healthy, regular meals on a tight budget, it is a concerning time for our health and wellbeing, and the strain of these worries may lead to stress and anxiety, or a feeling of isolation and helplessness.
If you are concerned about how to best protect your physical and mental health during these difficult times, please read the following advice and guidance to further resources.
Financial worries and health concerns can impact mood, leading to stress and anxiety, as well as a loss of motivation. Sharing your worries or concerns with a trusted friend or family member can help you to decompress, as well as allowing you to feel emotionally connected to those around you, minimising feelings of loneliness. It is also important to check in on others, particularly older or vulnerable people who may be suffering in silence. Connecting with neighbours, family and your community is the best way to protect your own mental health and support others in need.
Exercise can also play a key part in protecting your mental health. Getting outside daily can boost your energy levels, alertness and can contribute towards a positive mood. Regular physical activity can increase your self-esteem and can reduce the risk of stress, anxiety and depression.
If you are struggling it is important to reach out for help, and there are services which can help you.
The Cardiff and Vale Recovery & Wellbeing College provides free educational courses on a range of mental health, physical health and wellbeing topics. Courses take place online or in-person at venues across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan and are led by people with lived experiences of mental health difficulties. Topics covered include understanding anxiety and depression, physical activity for recovery and how to manage stress.
Open Access courses – Stepiau
If you have reached crisis point and are struggling to cope, you can call Samaritans free on 116123. You can also visit the Samaritans website for more support.
Many families are currently feeling the impact from the rising cost of living, and continuing to buy healthy foods can become strenuous on a tight budget.
Eating a healthy balanced diet and regular meals is essential for anyone to maintain good health including a healthy body weight and can help you feel your best. Ensuring that you are getting the right nutrients can strengthen your immune system and protect you against serious illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Here are a few things you can do to help your food budget stretch a little further and maintain a healthy diet during these challenging times:
View further tips and recipes for eating healthily on a budget:
The Healthy Start scheme is a Government initiative that provides eligible families with vouchers worth £4.25 every week to spend on milk, fresh, frozen, and tinned food, and infant formula milk. Visit the Healthy Start website for more information and to check eligibility.
Further support can be provided for those struggling to afford food by the use of Foodbanks. Local foodbanks are an emergency provision that can provide families with three days’ worth of emergency food. Referrals to foodbanks can be done through your GP, health visitor and school/social workers. Find your nearest foodbank here.
With energy bills becoming more expensive, many people may make the decision to reduce the use of their heating. A lack of heating can be dangerous for older people and those with underlying health problems, so it is important to take your individual health into consideration when making this decision. A cold environment can also lead to issues with damp and mould in homes, which can trigger respiratory issues, particularly in those with existing conditions like asthma. If you think that your health is deteriorating, speak to your local community pharmacist or consult your GP.
If you cannot turn the heating on, here are some tips for staying warm: