The novel coronavirus has affected the world in various ways. Other than the loss of life, the economic fallout of this pandemic has been no less devastating. So many businesses shut down; and many others that survived had to lay off a significant part of their workforce.
With countless people losing their jobs and having income streams dry up overnight, an imposing mental health challenge has emerged as well. In the United States alone, about 45% of the adult population has had its mental health negatively affected as a result of stress about COVID-19 and its financial implications. This is according to a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation back in March 2020.
The situation is no different for women. In fact, they’ve fared far worse in many ways. For instance, working women have faced greater layoffs compared to their male counterparts. According to data gathered by the National Women’s Law Center, about 61% of job cuts in retail alone were attributed to the ladies. Most other industries also painted a similar picture.
All of this has brought a considerable increase in the stress and anxiety levels of women. Be it losing a job and facing the prospect of a long unemployment period, dealing with unexpected medical costs, or seeing savings pools diminish, there are many things for the females to worry about. Unemployed single mothers, in particular, have a lot on their plate as they look for ways to cover expenses with a much higher degree of urgency and stress.
How Can Women Deal with Financial Anxiety In a Healthy Manner?
It goes without saying that these aren’t easy times and stress is at really high levels. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to address this threatening mental health challenge. If you’re a woman dealing with the financial strain induced by COVID-19, here are 5 ways to cope.
A major cause of anxiety among women (and the whole population in general) is a fear of the unknown. There’s a lot of uncertainty with regard to what will happen in the coming months. None of us have an idea as to how long this pandemic will last. It could be a while or it could all be over in a few months. However, that is all just speculation at this point!
So, the first thing you need to do is accept that things will be different for some time. And that means you’ll have to do things differently for a while. You can’t control the pandemic or make it go away. Instead, your energies should be focused on the things that ARE in your control.
For instance, if your finances are tight because you lost your job or your business went under, take stock of the resources currently available. Prepare an emergency budget that allows spending only for the daily essentials, cutting out everything else that isn’t urgent.
Moreover, you need to focus on your strengths and past successes. Perhaps you came through a financial pickle in the past. Think of such times in your life and reassure yourself. You bounced back once and can definitely do it this time around!
Visualizing success and accomplishment in the face of adversity is a powerful coping mechanism. Use it to maintain your sanity during what is arguably an insane time to live in.
Now is the time to prioritize mental health. You’ve probably put it on the backburner frequently in the past as work, family, and other responsibilities occupied your mind. However, you need to be more mindful of how you feel now.
Take care of yourself to be able to best take care of those you love. Get adequate sleep, follow a workout routine, limit alcohol and caffeine consumption, and regularly talk to friends and family. Perhaps you haven’t been in touch with some near and dear ones due to work demands in the past. It might be a good idea to reconnect with them now.
Furthermore, whenever possible during the day, take a moment to just sit and breathe. It will help calm your nervous system considerably. Maybe, should your finances allow it, consider undergoing therapy? Or just talk things out with a close friend/family member. It can be beneficial in dealing with the stress of the pandemic.
According to a report by CNBC, more than 20 million Americans were sent packing from their jobs in April 2020. This led to the highest unemployment rate (14.7%) since the end of World War II. Those receiving unemployment benefits currently exceed 22 million.
If you’ve lost your job recently, then filing for unemployment benefits should be done on priority. Check the details of the program in your state and do the needful. You should also try to maintain a health insurance plan if your wallet allows it.
There’s the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) which allows for the continuation of the health plan that you had under your last employer. You can keep it going for the next 18 months.
However, the cost will be higher compared to what it was when you were an employee. Also, take a look at other plans. You might find a high-deductible policy (state or federal) at a lower price through the Affordable Care Act exchange.
Modern work life doesn’t really leave time for much else during the day. But, now that you have a lot more of it on your hands, you should take full advantage of it. Find an affordable online course to learn a new skill that might help you land your next job as well.
There are so many quality resources available for free in this regard. If nothing else works, start learning through YouTube videos. Also, you might finally have the time to start that side-hustle which you’d been meaning to. Work on getting the ball rolling in this regard.
Moreover, remote working has become a sort of new normal. There are lots of opportunities in industries like IT and education. They’re hiring people off-site and this is where you could find your next big opportunity too!
The “gig economy” was already big even before the pandemic hit. And it continues to attract more and more people every day. In particular, if you’re good at writing, graphic designing, communication, or even customer service, there are ways for you to work and earn from home.
You can do this by working at your own pace and your own convenience! Seek out such opportunities through freelancing platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and TopTal. Social media, especially LinkedIn and Facebook, can help in this regard as well.
Moreover, you can try organizing a garage sale. Sort through the old boxes in your attic and see if there are unneeded things that you can sell for a decent price. Maybe there are some vintage items that you can definitely get by without. Consider listing them on social media or perhaps a platform like eBay.
Things are definitely rough nowadays. But, this too shall pass. Crisis breeds opportunity and there are opportunities in the current crisis too. Find yours and take care of yourself!
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