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Building Bridges by Cheryl Dizon-Reynante    

Rising costs and rising stress

by Cheryl Dizon-Reynante

The soaring inflation rate in Canada is at the highest it has been since 1983. According to CBC News, from May 2021 to May 2022, food prices rose by 9.7 per cent, gas prices increased by 48 per cent, and furniture prices rose by 15.8 per cent.

There are many stories on the news and in social media of people taking on second jobs, relying on coupons and food banks, and falling behind on payments. People are tracking their spending more and experiencing rising stress levels.

The FP Canada Financial Stress Index survey found that most people say money is the biggest source of stress for them, nearly twice as much as personal health, work, or relationships. Approximately 33 per cent of respondents reported that financial stress is leading to anxiety, depression, or mental health challenges.

These times are very stressful for Canadians, and sometimes people feel that most things are out of their control. It is important for people to figure out how to cope and manage stress, anxiety, and depression. It may not seem like a lot but making small changes to improve your situation and taking care of yourself physically and mentally can change your outlook, leading to hope. This will improve your relationships at home, with friends and family, and at work.

Practical tips

  • Record your expenses and set up a budget.
  • Walk, cycle or take the bus. This has the added benefit of exercise. If you must drive, group trips and errands together and keep close to home.
  • Do not leave your car running when the vehicle is not moving for a long time.
  • Limit eating at restaurants or ordering take out.
  • Do not go to the grocery store hungry because this can lead to impulse shopping.
  • Buy food in bulk and on sale when possible and use coupons.
  • Freeze food and meals. Preparing meals ahead of time will save you time during a busy work week and decrease the temptation to order out.
  • Look for free entertainment events near you. There are many outdoor summer concerts and festivals, as well as activities at the local library.

Mental health strategies

  • Establish a sleep routine. When we feel rested, this improves mood and leads to calmer and more effective problem-solving.
  • Limit screen time. This opens up opportunities to talk and socialize with your loved ones, exercise, and actively engage in fun activities (e.g., art, puzzles, sports).
  • Exercise or walk daily. During physical activity, the body releases chemicals, including endorphins, which reduce stress and increase feelings of contentment.
  • Meditate and/or pray regularly. This increases self-awareness, reduces negative emotions, focuses on the present, and fosters imagination and creativity, as well as patience and tolerance.
  • Talk about your worries with someone you trust. A well-known quote by author T.A. Webb says “A burden shared is a burden halved.”
  • Journaling is another way to decrease stress by putting thoughts and feelings to paper. This has a way of externalizing the problem, slowing down thoughts and becoming more self-aware.
  • Do something creative such as crafting, playing a musical instrument, knitting, or artwork. When people create, the imagination is brought to life, which is productive and fulfilling. Feelings of stress decrease when we are playful.
  • Practice gratitude. When you wake up or before you go to sleep, list the people and things that you are grateful for, big and small (e.g., sunshine, your family, access to free healthcare, shoes, running water). With an open mind and heart, you will easily find many things to be grateful for, especially when you think about millions of people around the world who live in poverty and areas of war and conflict.

“Hope is being able to see that there is light, despite all of the darkness.” – Desmond Tutu

Cheryl Dizon-Reynante is a licensed therapist with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association.

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