Time to Talk Day: Let’s start a conversation

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This Time to Talk Day, we share the latest data from Mind that reveals the impact the rising cost of living is having on our mental health

Time to Talk Day: Let’s start a conversation

Today is Time to Talk Day, a campaign run by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness in partnership with the Co-op. It is the nation’s biggest mental health conversation, which has been getting people talking about mental wellbeing since 2014.

This year, Mind is taking a look at the impact that the cost of living crisis is having on our mental health. Data from their latest poll of 5,236 people revealed that more than one in three (36%) adults in the UK aged 16 and over don’t make space in their day to discuss mental health. This reflects 19.6 million over 16s. Additionally, nearly eight in 10 (78%) of those surveyed said that the cost of living is affecting their mental wellbeing. This increases to 94% for those living with an existing mental health problem.

The data also worryingly reveals that almost one in five (18%) of those asked felt that the cost of living decreased how often they spoke about their mental health. Nearly half said the reason for this is that they didn’t want to burden others as many people are struggling right now. This, combined with the lasting effects of the pandemic, is having an impact on the nation’s mental wellness.

The current economic crisis is thought to hinder our ability to continue with the day-to-day ways we usually look after our mental health. For example, of the 18% who said that the cost of living decreased the time they spoke about mental health, one in four said that couldn’t afford social activities that help them stay mentally well. One in four also said they were having to work more hours to balance out the economic uncertainty, meaning they have less free time to socialise.

Most shockingly of all, 16% said they simply cannot afford to contact their support people to have these conversations (whether that’s over the phone, texting, or on social media) highlighting the effects of digital poverty. Mind’s data shows growing concerns that these numbers are set to get worse.

Campaigns like Time to Talk Day are helping by providing advice and resources to spark a conversation around mental health. It’s a vital way to help build supportive communities and open up more conversations about our mental wellbeing.

5 tips to take control of your finances‌‌

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Finance expert Davinia Tomlinson shares easy steps to help you manage your money‌‌

5 tips to take control of your finances‌‌

Anyone else counting the days until payday? The first payday after the holidays usually feels a long way off (especially if you got paid early in December), but some of us may be noticing it more than ever this year. As we head into the New Year, many of us like to take the chance to reset and embrace a fresh start, but worries about money and the cost of living can hold us back.

If you’re keen to get a handle on your finances in 2023, a great first step is to learn more about managing money so you can approach it in a simple and strategic way. To help us get started, finance expert Davinia Tomlinson, founder of Rainchq and author of Cash is Queen: A Girl’s Guide to Securing, Spending and Stashing Cash, shares five tips to help you take control of your financial future and live your best, most financially abundant life.

Whether you're just starting out or looking to improve your financial habits, understanding the basics of positive money management can help you feel reassured and put you back in the driving seat.‌‌

Learn to control your money mindset‌‌

Remember: you control your money, your money doesn’t control you. This is the key to transforming your relationship with money and establishing solid financial foundations that form the basis for how you live your life. Cultivating a healthy money mindset means that, in time, you will be making powerful financial decisions on autopilot. Start by keeping a daily money planner for a month and write down what you spend, when, why and with whom.

Next, reflect on how money makes you feel. Which words or thoughts come up consistently when you think about money and most importantly why? Do you feel excited? In control? Anxious? Whatever it is, write it down.‌‌‌‌

Lastly, look for patterns or clues in your behaviour. What do you notice about your money behaviour that makes you proud? Do certain people impact you positively or negatively? Is there a spike in spending after bad news? ‌‌‌‌

The only way to make a positive lasting change is to know your starting point, identify where you’d like to get to and take micro steps that you build on incrementally to achieve your target.

Understand the difference between what you make and what you keep

Being financially free is about understanding the difference between what you earn and what you keep. Keep track of your expenses and make sure you're spending less than you're earning. This will help you make informed decisions about what to do with any disposable income, including how much you can afford to save and invest for the future. Most people who achieve financial success aren’t simply those who ‘earn lots of money’. The most financially savvy are focused as much on what they earn as what they keep.

Deferred gratification ‌‌

It's easy to get caught up in the here and now and spend money on things we want but don't need. While there’s nothing wrong with the occasional burst of spontaneity when it comes to our spending, if this becomes

10 thoughtful last-minute Christmas gift ideas (that are simple, cheap or free)

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Worried about your gifts not turning up in the post or left your shopping a little late this year? We share 10 thoughtful last-minute gifts you can make, arrange, or easily buy locally, without spending too much time or money

10 thoughtful last-minute Christmas gift ideas (that are simple, cheap or free)

While some of us worry about the Christmas creep, for others, it’s like the holidays suddenly arrive with a shock of panic and a sense of overwhelm. Despite being the same time and date every year, figures show that around one in five of us still try to cram in some last-minute shopping come Christmas Eve. And thanks to our late spending habits, two in five spend more than we mean to.

We all know the best advice: save early, plan ahead, and spread the cost - it’s the thought (not the price tag) that counts. But that doesn’t feel very helpful when you’ve missed the cut-off for gifts to arrive in time in the post, and you’ve still not got everything.

We share 10 simple, affordable (or free) gift ideas you can make or easily buy without waiting for shipping, to help take the last-minute stress out of the holiday season.

Why is Christmas shopping so stressful?

The reasons why many of us find shopping at Christmas to be stressful can vary greatly from person to person. Common causes for our procrastination and feelings of overwhelm can include unrealistic or high expectations (set by ourselves or others), a need to make everything ‘perfect’ or fear of ‘ruining’ Christmas for others if things don’t go exactly as planned.

The overall cost of the holidays (food, travel expenses, gifts, decorations) can also be a significant contributor. Others can feel a growing sense of anxiety, worry or fear that they won’t choose the ‘right’ gift. This emotional insecurity can lead to further procrastination, making us feel worse and worse as time draws on.

While tackling things before they can get out of hand and make us feel worse is often the best course of action, it’s important to remember, it’s never too late to show someone you care.

Psychotherapist and Counselling Directory member, Lisa Ume PGDip (Accredited), B.Sc(hons), explains how you can prepare for the reality of Christmas.

10 last-minute Christmas gifts to show you care (without breaking the bank)

1. Share something you love
Think back over the past year. Has there been a book (physical or audiobook) that has really stuck with you? Easy (and often affordable) to pick up, gifting a book can also give you the time and space to add a personal message explaining why you wanted to share this gift with them, how it made you think about the person you’re gifting it to, or how it made you feel (and hope it will make them feel, too).

Books aren’t your only option. If you’re a podcast fan, why not gift a notebook or a curated digital list of your top podcasts, filled with particular episodes you think your loved one will enjoy? Listening to podcasts can be a grea

How to save money on your weekly food shop

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With food costs on the rise and everyday essentials taking up an uncomfortable chunk of our budgets, we ask: how can you really save money on your weekly food shop?

How to save money on your weekly food shop

According to the latest figures, we spend an average of 16% of our budget on food and non-alcoholic drinks. For the average UK household, that’s around £3,601 on groceries, and £1,744 on takeaways and eating out each year. That means we’re spending nearly £70 on our weekly food shop, and £31 on takeaways. Other figures have estimated a £643 rise in average grocery bills this year, with shoppers paying around £12 extra each week to buy the same food and groceries.

With inflation at a 40-year high leaving many of us seeing soaring gas and energy prices, while wages for the majority of workers are falling behind inflation, it’s no wonder more and more of us are looking for creative ways to save money.

But other than the obvious changes of cutting back on meals out, ditching the occasional coffee on your way to work, and switching down a brand on your favourite purchases, what can we do to save money on food shopping?

Keep track of what you have

Know what you have in your cupboards before you get started. How many times have we all accidentally bought yet another pack of lasagna sheets, pasta sauces, or our fave cupboard staples? By knowing what you have, you can minimise food waste and your weekly shopping spend. If you struggle to remember what you’ve got, apps like No Waste can help you to easily track your fridge, freezer, and food cupboards, helping you to create shopping lists and plan around the ingredients you've got.

How to save money on your weekly food shop
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Plan your meals before hitting the shops

We’ve all heard the advice: don’t go shopping on an empty stomach. But it’s not just our hunger that can lead us to over-spending - our lack of planning can lead to us buying an unbalanced basket, relying heavily on more expensive ingredients or ready-made options.

Planning your meals for the week ahead (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks) can help you to avoid the temptation of splurging on extra takeaways or meals out. It can also reduce the time and energy needed to think about what you’re going to cook - something that can lead many of us to feel demotivated at the end of a long, stressful day.  

Meal planning can also help us to pick more sensible meal options. Making a full-on roast may sound like a great idea when you’re shopping on a Monday, but when Sunday rolls around and you’re feeling the end of the weak dread, you might not have the energy to cook such a big

Is your work productivity dipping at the moment? This could be why

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Is your work productivity dipping at the moment? This could be why

It’s fair to say that we all have a lot on our minds at the moment. The cost of living crisis is dominating news headlines, and our day-to-day conversations, too. And many of us are having to take a hard look at our finances in order to navigate the time ahead of us.

Financial worries can affect each of us in a number of different ways, most commonly stirring up feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. But a new study from Censuswide and Unum has highlighted the way that it might be affecting us at work.

What they found was that 29% of UK workers said financial worries from the cost of living crisis had negatively impacted their productivity at work this year, with 31% expecting this to continue into 2023. A further 40% said that their worries about financial pressure leave them feeling physically tired, and 32% said that the pressure keeps them up at night.

From there, it’s easy to see how an individual may slip further into mental health struggles. In a Mind survey of more than 1,000 people, 73% reported that when their mental health is poor, they struggle more to manage their money, and 74% also said that difficulty managing money then went on to affect their mental health – a demonstration of the cyclical trap that financial trouble can turn into.

Money worries can also lead to feelings of isolation. Generally, we don’t find it easy to talk to others about our concerns, even (and sometimes, especially) those who are close to us. We can also feel pressure to put on a front – to continue to turn up to pricey social events when, really, we don’t have the spare cash to do so. Overall, the situation can feel quite hopeless, but Mark Till, CEO of Unum UK believes that workplaces should be stepping in to help employees.

29% said that financial worries had negatively impacted their productivity at work

“Our research captures some major red flags in the lack of support from businesses and the resulting impact on productivity, as well as physical and mental health,” Mark says. “With only 15% of workers expecting their productivity to improve in 2023, employers need to be aware of the long-term implications of not helping employees during the current difficult economic climate.

“High-quality employee benefits and support services are essential, but employees can’t utilise these unless they’re aware of them. Communication and embedding these benefits are critical, as well as enabling a culture where employees feel they can speak freely about concerns and understand where to go to access early intervention support.”

Are you aware of the support that you might be entitled to? Read our guide to checking your Employee Assistance Program, and we’ve also got advice for managing your money and your mental health, as well as dealing with financial shock.

A solution for financial worries often feels out of reach. Afterall, if the problem is ‘lack of money’, most of us don’t have the ability to conjure up some more. But when it comes to managing the feelings caused by the worri