Part of being a good Debt Counsellor is the ability to actively listen and asses a consumers state of mind, or as I like to call it their “Mental Debt Health”. Often people are shocked to hear I don’t just crunch numbers and slap out a “debt Solution”. I sit, actively listen and to watch or pay attention for signs of psychological trauma as well. Often consumers suffering from financial constraints are extremely hard and judgmental upon themselves to the point of disbelief: “why didn’t I listen, I should have, I could have, why was I so stupid?”, and the list of self torment goes on.

Debt stress is on the rise, and more so this year than ever before as more South Africans begin to feel the financial shackles tighten as our economy really begins to suffer. I’m sure we can all agree just by looking at the financials that things are not looking very hopeful at the moment for us.

Majority of the consumers I talk too always feel better after “exorcising their demons” as in “getting it off their chests”. Having the opportunity to talk to someone that knows and actually understands where you’re coming from helps tremendously. Everyone needs a support structure be it family, friends or a bunch of OUDS specialists.

Having recently counselled several consumers who all felt embarrassed about needing assistance, or too proud to ask for help, all had the same thing to say: “I should have spoken to you sooner!”

So here’s some OUDS advise to having good mental debt health, let’s help you be well.

Getting through the hard times

Many things can happen on the road to financial freedom. Whether overspending or emergency costs, hard times happen and often come out of nowhere. With the stress that comes from watching your money so closely, scrutinizing every rand going out, you need to keep your spirits high so you can face these challenges head on.

Handle yourself

Firstly, and arguably most importantly, try to celebrate your achievements no matter how big or small. Often we get bogged down with negativity and in tough times this can lead to depression and anxiety. Having a huge impact on your work, social life and health, stress of this level can be detrimental to your well-being and even impact your ability to support your financial obligations.

Focus on health

While counteracting the negative effects of stress, exercise also helps to distract your mind and process thoughts. It has been shown to steady your mind in order to handle problems calmly and effectively. Keeping your body and mind running at its best so you can tackle setbacks is a must, ensuring you don’t burn yourself out or let the pressure get the best of you. Nothing clears your head and resets your restless mind like a good run.

Take time for yourself

When caught up in the stresses of life we often forget to take a step back and let ourselves have a moment of happiness. Always give yourself time to do the things you enjoy in whatever way is needed. Whether taking an hour to read a book or working on a passion project, bringing some joy to your day lets you feel rested enough to keep fighting the good fight.

Come to terms with the truth

While there are many things you can change and work on, there are also many things you cannot. Separate these elements and be truthful with yourself about what you can fix. Leave past mistakes behind and focus on what you can change here and now.

Recognize the signs

Mental health is of the utmost importance when dealing with the stresses of life and debt. Take note of your moods and behavior to protect yourself from depression and anxiety. If your moods take a dip and you no longer sleep, eating becomes strenuous and you crave an escape, be sure to take some time for yourself or find someone to talk to- depression is no joke.

Even though life can throw a curve ball or two along the way, taking care of your well-being is the most important thing. Keep yourself happy and healthy so you can tackle your setbacks with a clear and strong mind.

Remember above all else that you are not alone out there.

Come talk to us about your Mental Debt Health, we’re good listeners tailored to help you get through the tough times.