4 Tips for Managing Your Mental Health Care on a BudgetMental Health Care on a Budget

We’ve written a few guides about keeping up your physical health without making your wallet sick. But your mental health is, of course, just as important too. Chronic stress can have all manner of consequences on the body, from your heart to your bones, and everything in between.

And financial troubles are a major contribution to stress. So a lack of money leads to stress which leads to expensive medical issues which can lead to debt and bad credit which makes the money issues worse… it’s a terrible cycle. Which is why affordable mental health care is important. Of course, some mental health issues will require more than self-care tips, but for keeping your stress down day to day without making your bank account anxious, turn to the advice from these experts.

1. Get some sleep.

The more work you have to do, the harder it is to find time to sleep. And stress can make falling asleep that much more difficult.

“Getting a good night’s sleep is important for good self-care and it doesn’t cost a penny,” Alisa Kamis-Brinda (@SerenityAlisa), psychotherapist and owner of Serenity Solutions Therapy, advised. “The keys to getting a good night’s sleep are to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night, making sure where you are sleeping is dark enough, quiet enough, comfortable enough, and not too hot or cold. It is also important to avoid caffeine after noon as it can interfere with a restful sleep. Turning off devices an hour before bedtime is also important, as the blue light emitted from these devices can interfere with a restful sleep.”

Therapist Kimberly Hershenson (@kimhershlmsw) also warned against too much tech before bedtime: “Turn off the TV, computer and your phone an hour before bed. Technology stimulates the brain causing our minds to stay active and unable to wind down. Turning off technology allows us to slow down and prepares the body for rest.”

Aside from helping to keep your stress under control, proper sleep can also have all sorts of physical benefits, including a reduction in your risk of any number of diseases.

2. Manage your time well.

So we’ve established that getting the proper amount of sleep is important, but do you even have the time for that? You could drop whatever you’re doing and go right to sleep promptly at 10 PM, but if there was work you still had to do, that might only make you more stressed. That’s why time management is so important. And it can lower your stress in other ways too.

“Time management is important for good self-care to avoid feeling overwhelmed,” Kamis-Brinda told us. “The keys to good time management are to prioritize and delegate tasks, say ‘no’ as needed, and schedule down time for yourself to relax or do something you enjoy.”

That time for yourself is important whenever you can manage it. In the long run, you’re not going to be better off burning out.

3. Super exercise.

While you’re managing your time, be sure to dedicate time for exercise. Elaine Taylor-Klaus, parent coach and cofounder of ImpactADHD (@ImpactADHD), vouched for the importance of regular exercise on your mental health: “Hands down — BEST way to start managing depression and/or anxiety with limited funds is to start exercising regularly—20 to 30 minutes a day—and start watching what you eat.”

Hershenson also advised adding options like exercise to your morning routine, saying “Have a morning routine where you have time to yourself—whether it’s going to the gym, having your daily coffee while reading the newspaper or stretching for 10 minutes. Doing something just for yourself every day is crucial to mental stress.”

Kamis-Brinda joined in on the exercise suggestion: “Exercise is great for self-care. The better you feel physically, the better you will feel emotionally. Additionally, for people with anxiety, exercise lowers the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol which are elevated when someone is feeling anxious, stressed or overwhelmed.  Walking, running and hiking are free. In the summer, many cities have free pools and low-cost bike rentals.”

And those weren’t the only sorts of exercise Kamis-Brinda advocated, saying people should try “relaxation exercises, mindfulness and meditation are also great free self-care activities. There are many free apps that have free recordings of how to practice these coping strategies.”

4. Eat right, feel right.

Eating well is another subject we’ve tackled in our blog several times before, and it’s also a vital part of affordable mental heath care. As Taylor-Klaus told us, “Nutrition can do a lot, though nutritional supplements can cost more than medication, so start with a focus on eating healthily. If you find accountability difficult, find an accountability partner in your world, someone who will help you out or agree to talk with you about it regularly.”

Here’s what Kamis-Brinda had to say about healthy eating: “Eating healthy is also important for good self-care. Healthy eating doesn’t have to cost more. It’s just about the choices that you make when you are hungry. Avoiding caffeine and sugar helps with anxiety, as these ingredients mimic the biological processes of anxiety, making people feel anxious even when they are not. Foods high in protein and fiber help to keep sugar levels in the body stable, also helping to stabilize anxiety. Foods high in complex carbohydrates including whole grain cereals, breads and pastas, help to promote serotonin in the brain which regulates mood, sleep and appetite.”

Hershenson advised what she calls “mindful eating,” saying “At your next meal, chew each bite thoroughly before taking another one. Notice the colors and shapes of your food. Close your eyes and smell the aroma of your food.”

Money troubles can make stress worse. So do yourself a favor and invest time and energy into your self-care. Your body, mind and wallet will thank you!

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Alisa Kamis-Brinda, LCSW, LCADC, (@SerenityAlisa) owner and primary psychotherapist at Serenity Solutions, LLC in Philadelphia, PA, helps overwhelmed, stressed out professionals and new moms learn how to slow down anxious and angry thoughts so that they can be in the present moment, relax and enjoy life again.
Kimberly Hershenson (@kimhershlmsw) has worked successfully with clients who have experienced problems such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, personality disorders, and difficult relationships. Her aim is to create a warm, supportive, and safe space for her clients to help achieve their personal goals. She believes that, together, they can work on understanding feelings and behaviors regarding clients’ areas of concern while helping them to practice healthier coping mechanisms in order to fully participate in life.
Elaine Taylor-Klaus, PCC, CPCC, is the co-founder of ImpactADHD® (@ImpactADHD), an award-winning global resource helping parents to stay sane while raising complex children. A writer, parent educator and coach, Elaine works with parents internationally, online and on the phone. She is the co-author of Parenting ADHD Now! Easy Intervention Strategies to Empower Kids with ADHD, the co-creator of the behavior management program, “The Sanity School Course for Parents,” and is first and foremost the mother in a complex family of 5.


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