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April 20, 2020 • read
Managing financial stress through COVID-19
Canada has changed. And it happened virtually overnight. Our largest cities have ground to a halt, and the country has already lost over one million jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In some areas, unemployment is expected to jump from 5% to 85%. A statistic that’s hard to wrap your head around for the sheer magnitude of it.
When our friends at Borrowell conducted a study on Canadians’ financial stress during COVID-19 it revealed just how much our personal accounts are weighing on our minds.
Here’s what the survey said:
- 74% of Canadians surveyed are feeling stress over their finances.
- 30% of respondents reported being stressed to the point of losing sleep.
- 40% said their biggest financial worry was an inability to pay for basic necessities.
- Only 6% of people are feeling financially secure.
- 29% say COVID-19 has had an ‘extremely negative’ impact on their finances already.
While talking about these results with Borrowell, who provides free access to credit reports and financial education, we knew we had just the right experts to help you manage your stress and get back to a good nights sleep. Our first stop was our therapy partner, Shift Collab. This type of stress is something they’ve certainly seen a time or two. Therapist Vivian Zhang explained, “Financial stress can be scary because it can activate our catastrophic thinking.” This means that our minds automatically start thinking about the worst-case scenario.
To address this, Zhang recommends you “check and see what your financial status is. It might be helpful to create a financial status log where you write down how much money you currently have, what you owe, what supports might be available…Payment options can be explored with companies you owe money to (such as asking for a payment plan), or you can check in with a financial planner about potential financial plans.”
A financial status check is a great first step towards a good night’s sleep, but there can be more than stress leading to your difficulty sleeping. Physical distancing has changed how most of us are living our lives, and according to our top sleep therapist, Aaron Arkin, routine is key to a good night’s sleep. Here are his top five tips to get the best sleep possible.
Respect the function of your bed: Other than getting busy, and getting some shut-eye, there’s nothing else you should be doing in your bed. There’s no need to start answering emails or jumping on Slack for one last look.
Pay attention to your sleep environment: Our bodies much prefer a cool space. Nocturnal lowering of our body temperature is associated with the production of melatonin and is one of our body’s cues that it’s time to go night-night (it’s called thermoregulation). Keeping your sleep environment quiet, cool and clean is key to a good night’s sleep.
Have a soothing pre-bedtime routine: If you’ve ever sleep trained a baby, you’ll know how important this is. A bedtime routine cues our brain that we’re winding down, and it’s important to make it as calming as possible. Stick to the same actions in the same order each night. Don’t read on a screen, though — you’ve heard it many times before, screen time should end an hour before bedtime.
Make pro-sleep lifestyle adjustments: No one’s suggesting you reconfigure your life around sleeping but consider small practical changes. Move your afternoon coffee to earlier in the day. Try to take time to walk outside, since getting enough sunlight is crucial. And don’t forget to exercise — it’s the best way to help yourself to a better night’s sleep.
Develop an overall routine: While those weekend sleep-in sessions can be delicious, they can mess up your circadian rhythms. Sticking to the same wake up and bedtime each day means your body knows what’s coming next. If you do have a late night and have trouble keeping it together the next morning, your best bet is to try a short (20 to 40 minute) power nap. Sticking to a regular routine all week keeps you from having to prop yourself up with three million cups of coffee to make it through the day.
While it’s completely natural to feel anxious and concerned these days, remember that you’re not in this alone. You have thousands of resources, including therapists, financial advisors, doctors, and your personal network of friends and family ready to help you. And we’re all just a few clicks or a phone call away.