by Callum Woodward
The Cost of Living crisis in this country is affecting, or has affected, pretty much everyone in the UK for what seems like an eternity. I can’t remember the last time I went shopping and didn’t feel uncomfortable and anxious. I’m careful about what I need to buy to be able to eat for the week, but I often catch myself not picking up items so that I can keep costs down. I keep thinking about getting to the checkout and anxiously watching the total go up and up and up. On top of that, I go home and worry about the cost of keeping my home warm and think twice about turning the heating on, thankful for the warmer days slowly appearing.
Being dubbed ‘heat or eat’, it’s become a Catch 22 for so many households nationwide this past winter. Even worse for those who have children, the elderly, sick, unemployed or people who are full-time carers. The energy, food and fuel price rises have caused havoc and created a very real public health concern.
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and money worries are often a cause of great anxiety for so many people. Unexpected costs, price increases on everyday essentials, losing your job and most of all uncertainty about the future. These are all factors that are making life difficult for many people at the moment. So many of us are being forced to make sacrifices just to keep our heads above water. Using ‘warm spaces’, community fridges and food banks to top up wages is becoming commonplace.
For young people, maybe they’re choosing to cut down on having a social life in order to save money. It costs money to commute, have a coffee or get lunch somewhere, to go and see a film or go to the theatre. This is incredibly difficult for those who rely on social interaction for their enjoyment and all this on the back of isolation and lockdown for two years. Being isolated can be really harmful for people who already struggle with their mental health. Consequently, people who would usually try to meet up with their friends to take their minds off things may not be able to afford to do that. Human beings are social animals and need community and the company of others to thrive therefore the true cost of living crisis could be far greater than we anticipate. Loneliness has been linked to numerous physical and mental health problems. (www.campaigntoendloneliness.org)
This generation more than any other have the added burden of rising student loan debt and the rising rental market crisis with the hopes of home ownership becoming an ever more distant dream. No one can promise that it’s all going to get better tomorrow but taking small steps to look after yourself and watching out for friends and family is a first step. Getting yourself into the right headspace is a huge step in being mentally healthy.
The most liberating and helpful step to getting to a better place is to talk about it. I cannot stress this enough. Almost everyone you’ll speak to about it will be able to relate to you. They may have some insight and advice for places that you can go to for help. But you’re not going to be able to fix everything by keeping it to yourself and not opening up about it.
There are plenty of resources out there for support during the cost of living crisis, but the best resource you’ll ever find is to confide in others.
It is definitely cliché to say this, but a problem shared is a problem halved. I don’t care that it’s cliché – because it’s definitely true in my experience. If things feel overwhelming please think about contacting a counsellor for support. The Lighthouse Counselling Partnership can definitely help to support you through difficult time.
Other Cost of Living resources: