min read
November 2, 2022

Managing financial stress during the cost-of-living crisis

When challenges arise in our day-to-day lives, it’s common to feel stressed out, experience symptoms of anxiety, and even have trouble sleeping.

Things such as the current cost-of-living crisis can sadly feel out of our control, but there are ways we can still find balance and take care of our mental health while we navigate these challenging times.

This National Stress Awareness Day, we want to share some of the ways to help manage your day-to-day mental health, while things might feel more difficult.

Anxiety & poor sleep: The basic science vs. stress

Anxiety is a biological response that helps humans identify threats and prepare for survival. When faced with challenging situations, our minds can interpret them as a threat, whether or not we are in imminent physical danger. We might experience persistent negative thoughts, feel fatigued, or get restless and irritable. If these feelings come at night, they can interrupt our sleep — causing us to feel even worse the next day – and a horrible cycle begins.

The Cost-of-Living Crisis

While costs continue to rise, from heating our homes to buying essential food items and more – with it so does our financial stress, which can negatively impact our general and mental health.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) carried out a survey in May this year to understand just how many of us feel our mental health is being impacted by the cost-of-living crisis[1]

77% of UK adults reported feeling either somewhat or very worried about the cost of living crisis.
50% of those who were very worried felt these worries almost every day.
ONS Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, April – May 2022

It highlights how financial stress is a very real and overwhelming reality for many of us right now, and it has the ability to create instability and severely affect our quality of life. There is also evidence that long-term, unmanaged stress can help to develop or worsen our mental health[2] such as anxiety and insomnia.

How news & social media can make us feel worse

Worrying is one of the ways our brain copes with anxiety and stress. And, although it’s common to want to stay informed about events around us, constant media consumption — or “doomscrolling” — can push our worries into overdrive. The result is overwhelming feelings of uncertainty and a lack of control — which, in turn, causes anxiety to rise.

So, how can I effectively manage my stress during this time?

There’s an old saying: “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” If you’re feeling low on mood or energy – and for many, it may even be a combination of both right now – then your day-to-day can quickly feel overwhelming, let alone when more challenging moments may arise.

There are a few simple ways you can start to guide yourself out of these feelings of low mood or lacking energy, in order to better tackle life as a more empowered version of yourself, especially during the cost-of-living crisis.

Let’s Talk

You are not alone in your struggles, and while it may feel embarrassing to share your thoughts, there is nothing to feel ashamed about. Sharing our problems opens up the opportunity to find solutions, or at the very least, some comfort during a difficult time. Whether it’s friends, family, a colleague, or a help-line service – there are safe spaces for you to reach out to.

Useful helplines for when stress, anxiety, and worry feel overwhelming:

  • Mind UK: 0300 123 3393
  • Breathing Space Scotland: 0800 83 85 87
  • Samaritans: 116 123
  • Anxiety UK: 03444 775 774

Time for you

While self-care and wellbeing practices may not eliminate the source of your stress, they do allow you time and space to look at it from a different perspective. Going that little step further to caring for yourself can really help during those more stressful times, giving you greater clarity and sense of mind to handle difficult situations.

Some free and effective ideas include:

  • Going for a walk or self-led exercise
  • Spending time with people who make you feel good or who help you problem solve
  • Rewatch your favourite movies or shows
  • Healthy sleep can help you feel less anxious during the day. Develop a wind-down routine, avoid screens before bed, and keep your bedroom dark for a more restful night.

Extra support

Don’t be afraid to get mental health and added financial support.

Citizens Advice Scotland has sign-posted ways to get added support during this time, including accessing local food banks. Food banks are run by:

  • Charities
  • Churches – they’ll still help you even if you’re not religious or have a different religion
  • Other community groups

To get help from a food bank you may need to be referred with a voucher that you can exchange for food. The food bank will tell you where you can get a voucher in your area.


You can also access NHS-funded, clinically-evidenced digital mental health treatments for FREE to help manage anxiety & worry, and poor sleep:

Daylight is our NHS-funded, evidence-based digital CBT programme to help you tackle anxiety and worry. It is available at NO COST to all Scottish Residents (18+) and is instantly accessible, 24 hours a day, so it is on hand whenever you are struggling with feelings of anxiety & worry.

Sign up now and get instant support:

Sleepio is our NHS-funded, evidence-based digital CBT programme to help you tackle insomnia and poor sleep. It is available at NO COST to all Scottish Residents (18+) and is instantly accessible. In just six sessions you can learn a wealth of techniques, proven to be more effective than sleeping pills in helping to manage poor sleep and insomnia.[3]

Sign up now and get instant support:

In the UK, Sleepio and Daylight are CE marked medical devices available for the treatment of insomnia disorder and generalised anxiety disorder, respectively.

Disclaimer: Sleepio and Daylight may not be suitable for everyone, please review the associated safety information by going to the Sleepio Suitability Page and Daylight Suitability Page for more details prior to starting the program.

[1] Worries about the rising costs of living, Great Britain April to May 2022 – Office for National Statistics –

[2] How the cost-of-living crisis might affect your mental health- Article by Mental Health and Money Advice

[3] ‘Clinical evidence shows that Sleepio reduces insomnia symptoms compared with sleep hygiene and sleeping pills’ –  Page 4

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Big Health Team
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