Read on for some tips on how to manage financial stress while studying.
As the cost of living and education continues to rise, you may be experiencing feelings of uncertainty, isolation, and anxiety when you think about the year ahead and how you can continue to make ends meet. This, coupled with the daily news around the predicted global recession, and it’s enough to make anyone want to throw in the towel completely.
If you’re an international student, you may be wondering if you can afford to extend your visa. For those fresh graduates or those soon to complete uni, you may be unsure about whether you can secure a job in your preferred fields. It’s overwhelming!
Money worries can have a huge impact on someone’s mental health. But there are some things that you can do to give yourself a fighting chance at succeeding in your studies and coping with financial anxiety.
Explore financial support at your institution
Understand what your options are when it comes to financial aid, scholarships, and student loans. Your institution or students' union may also have money advisors on hand to offer support and advice. Some institutions will have hardship funds set aside for students in financial difficulty. Explore all of the options, you may be surprised at how much support is actually on offer.
Research good habits
There are many free resources online to educate yourself and become familiar with good financial habits. A great place to start are the websites of banks and financial institutions which all offer online resources. Meeting with a financial advisor may help you to understand the economic citation and how you can plan effectively. Also, there are resources on YouTube, TikTok, and other platforms from influencers who share their experiences and advice. Put them into practice to give yourself a fighting chance.
Reality check what you see on social media
You might see people flashing the cash and living the high life on social media. Try to remember that isn’t how things really are - a quick Google of the numbers of people accessing debt advice and food banks will tell you this. Try not to feel you have to spend money to keep up with other people.
Stay connected with your community
Although it may feel like it at times, you are not alone! And you most definitely aren’t the only one experiencing financial stress. Connect with support groups at your place of study, with family or friends, or jump onto our community to chat to others anonymously about your situation. When people come together to share problems, solutions come to light!
Struggling with money can have a huge impact on your life as a student, affecting everything from your grades to your diet and sleep pattern. Mental health can be a balancing act, and if you’re feeling overly stressed, you will need to take extra good care of yourself.
What works well for you? Maybe it’s ensuring you get a healthy amount of sunlight and fresh air, maybe it’s time with family and friends. Maybe you can introduce some mindfulness and meditation into your life to help combat those overwhelming feelings. If you find that you are using alcohol or any other unhealthy coping strategies, you might want to try taking a step back. Figure out what works for you and prioritize it daily to help keep your head above water.
Narrow your focus
Pay less attention to the wider news and more attention to your specific situation. Narrowing your focus can help prevent you from being overwhelmed and absorbing too much information, much of which won’t impact you directly.
Finally, take a moment and take a breath. Plenty of people have been in your shoes and there is always help and support available to you. Taking control of your finances early on will help eliminate a lot of the uncertainty, but taking care of yourself and your mental health should always take priority.
Do a ‘worst case scenario’ exercise
Journal about your fears. Maybe start with, ‘I can’t afford to continue studying’. Then ask yourself, ‘then what would happen?’ Maybe the next line would be, ‘I have to put my studying on hold’. And then what would happen?
Continue asking yourself this until you have the exact worst-case scenario mapped out in front of you. When you run through these scenarios, it helps you to see that although the situation would be unfortunate, it’s not life-threatening, and there is always a way to come back from the worst-case scenario.
Try not to put your head in the sand
If you are struggling with debt, try to ask for help early on and get some financial advice. Ignoring any financial problems can let things escalate and it’s definitely not helpful. You don’t have to feel ashamed. Try to reach out to charities and nonprofit organizations in your area, who will often offer free advice.
It's okay to acknowledge how you really feel
It’s ok to acknowledge that things are really hard right now - so many people are struggling. It’s also ok to feel sad, anxious, or even angry at the world - no it isn’t fair and yes it sucks.
Get some support
If you are feeling depressed or anxious, it can be a huge relief to let someone know you are struggling and the first step to feeling better. If you have been feeling this way for a long time or things are getting worse, please reach out for professional help.
It’s hard to talk about mental health problems and it’s hard to talk about money problems, but that doesn't mean we shouldn’t. While these conversations can seem hard to navigate, we should all be having them. If you don't know where to start, or if the conversation feels daunting, jump on our anonymous community.
On TalkCampus you can talk about how you really feel, with no fear of judgment, just support.