Expats Can Lower Stress with Expert Guidance
It’s true: there more challenges to maintaining a balanced, optimistic outlook these days. It seems like we’re hearing unwelcome news and facing financial uncertainty from every direction. How do we carry on and thrive in a chaotic environment? Many experts have been examining this issue and have some great insights.
Investors take note: a recent study found that financial planning is good for mental health. Around 74% of those who take financial advice reported ‘average’ or ‘above average’ mental health.(1)
Expats: acknowledge the challenges
Making the move to another country takes an enormous amount of energy, planning, and faith that everything will turn out okay. Once in the new country, expats often encounter numerous daily obstacles, from finding familiar foods, to communicating, to staying fresh for work across time zones. Meeting ongoing challenges every day takes its toll: exhaustion, depression, and anxiety can creep in, little by little.(2)
Sometimes it’s hard to admit to other expats or family and friends back home that the big move isn’t all wine and roses. Expat spouses who have made the move in support of their spouse’s career don’t have the work focus, or built-in coworker network to keep from feeling isolated.(3)
Often, the big move takes more money than expected and savings can take a bigger hit than planned for. Paychecks can be cut just once a month instead of every two weeks. Large deposits on accommodations, energy services, and other startup expenses can add to expat anxiety. For a great read on general expat mental health, see these top tips.
Mental and economic states share similarities
Expats who have diligently contributed to their retirement funds to assure their long-term financial health have been on a nauseating free fall lately. And it’s a self-fulfilling situation: the stock market and our moods are interconnected in an interesting way. The stock market affects how investors feel, and in turn their feelings affect the markets.(4)
Mental depression and an economic depression are both the result of several factors. Symptoms of mental health depression can be recognized in changes to normal patterns of eating, sleeping, participating in pleasurable activities, concentration, and feelings of self-worth. In an economic depression, the changes are lowered employment figures, trade and commerce, productivity, and investment, as well as rising bankruptcies and debt defaults.(4)
The inflation effects
The current historic inflation figures are adding fuel to the fire. Inflation decreases the power of the money you have, which can increase stress around finances. Financial stress can create chronic anxiety, exhaustion, strained relationships with partners, and prevent a person from getting housing, education, or healthcare.
When people perceive inflation to be so bad as to critically endanger their futures, the fear can lead them to the same Catch-22 seen in the stock markets. They withdraw money from their savings accounts and buy things like gold to sell later. The result is an increased sense of instability, anxiety, cynicism, and loss of trust in the government.(5)
Debt is a downer
The American Psychological Association deemed financial concerns the single biggest cause of stress for Americans.(6)
An American insurance study found that 44% of Americans said that financial concerns were their number one stressor, with more than one in four feeling depressed about finances at least monthly and 20% feeling depressed weekly, daily, or hourly.(7)
Future financial planning
A U.K. insurance and investment company shows the importance of financial advice and the vital role advisers play; we surveyed over 3,000 UK adults to understand the relationship between physical health, mental well-being, and financial fitness.
Key findings and implications:(1)
- Physical, mental and financial wellbeing are interconnected
Strong correlation is found across these dimensions of wellbeing. When one aspect of wellbeing improves, the other dimensions improve as well.
- Health is Wealth
Financial health enables physical and mental health, but it may be difficult to enjoy financial success without good physical or mental health.
- A ‘health legacy’ is emerging
Passing on healthy lifestyle habits is becoming an important part of a person’s legacy alongside their financial wealth.
- Start investing in health and wealth earlier
Exercising more, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and saving more money rank highest in advice to our 15-year young self.
- Healthy habits start young
Healthy habits started at a young age can lay the foundations of physical, mental and financial wellbeing in adulthood.
- Financial planning – a driver for wellbeing
Taking small steps to focus on long-term financial planning can have a positive impact on both mental wellbeing and physical fitness.
- The Societal +Factor
Those with good physical, mental and financial fitness contribute more to society.
- Covid-19 driving behavior change
Behaviors relating to health, wealth and wellbeing, as well as giving back to society, have been impacted by COVID-19 which is now among the top drivers of stress.
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