Managing your health in times of recession

A rise in energy prices, high inflation rates and a potential recession has led to consumer confidence being at a record low. People are cutting down on leisure activities, clothing and more than (1) 57% of consumers are reducing their use of energy at home.

The effects of a recession can ripple out to other areas of life. People are more likely to report poor health and wellness. It’s tough enough to make ends meet when money is tight but its even harder if your health suffers as a result. We should all be protecting our health during a recession and measure our decisions against the impact on our health as well as our finances.

Though the relationship between a recession and our health is complex, one factor is the stress of financial insecurity through job loss or reduced income can lead to a wide range of health problems to include anxiety, depression, and heart disease. When people are under a lot of stress, they may be more likely to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drinking, smoking, or overeating.

Financial pressures can cause physical health problems such as high blood pressure and ulcers. (2) Research shows that there is an increased rate of chronic illnesses and mental health in the years after recession

Ways to protect your health during a recession

  • Stay informed. Try not to dwell on bad news and focus on what you can control. Recessions are followed by periods of growth so try and remain positive.
  • Prevention is better than cure. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle before symptoms appear allows the ability to prevent any potential future illnesses. Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. By becoming more active you may help cut your risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes heart disease and arthritis.
  • Check your blood. Keep a cost-effective check on your general health with blood testing – using in clinic or at home finger pricks tests to check a variety of potential risks from diabetes, general health to even a bowel test. 54% of bowel cancer cases are preventable through diagnosis.
  • Stay connected. Connect socially with the community or your loved ones to protect your mental health.
  • Manage your finances. Aim to plan your finances and look at ways you can weather the storm. Look at ways you can reduce your household bills without compromising your health. Save for emergencies such as broken glasses or a bad tooth to lessen debt from an unexpected bill. Measure expenditure choices against both the impact on your finances and your health.
  • Managing stress. Managing stress levels will impact on your physical and mental wellbeing. Stay positive, set realistic goals, use relaxation or mindfulness techniques.

Increased pressure on health services

(3) Another good reason we should all maintain self-care is health services come under increased pressure in a recession due to;

  • Increase demand for GP consultations focusing on a patients social and economic concerns
  • Increase demand for psychiatric services due to the increased level of depression and anxiety
  • More antidepressant and antipsychotic use with increasing levels of drugs and alcohol mis use.
  • Increase in A&E admissions due to alcohol and drug related harm

Though it is impossible to eliminate difficult situations from our lives, especially in the current climate, there are some steps we can do to make them more manageable.

Having a plan, staying focused and help ourselves in anyway we can from health self-care to an emergency fund can avoid future illnesses as well as being overwhelmed.

Remember that growth comes after a recession so stay positive and keep connected socially to help and support one another.

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