Your physical and mental health may not be topics that are top of mind when you think about personal finance. However, how you take care of your body and mind can have a huge impact on your finances and the decisions you have to make around personal finance. Keeping both in tip-top shape will afford you the ability to create more income, spend less on health expenses down the road, and make decision with a clear mind.
Taking care of your physical health is not something that you don’t already know. Eating healthy and getting adequate exercise are the cornerstone of any healthy life. But you also have to consider what medical costs you may encounter down the road if you don’t take your physical health seriously. I know that there are plenty of chronic illnesses that are not preventable – I have one of those myself. But there are many physical medical conditions that can be prevented if we just invest some time and dollars into our physical health.
Mental health is an area that we don’t spend a lot of time talking about, but it is just as important as physical health. If you have stress or anxiety or depression, it can run major interference in your life. Simple decisions, like what to buy at the grocery store or deciding which movie to watch, can become overwhelming. If simple decisions become paralyzing, how on earth are you supposed to make good long-term financial decisions? If you find yourself feeling anxious or showing signs of depression, it is something you need to address with your doctor, so you can receive the correct treatment. Taking the time and dollars to address what could be very serious issues now will only benefit you and your financial health down the road.
Here are some free and low-cost ways to get started investing in your physical and mental health:
Drink more water. It’s one of the easiest and most inexpensive things you can do to invest in your health. It affects your entire body and will do a lot more good than most other beverages you consume. Try switching out whatever you normally drink during the week with water just for one week and see what a difference it can make.
Walk. The great thing about walking is that it doesn’t cost more than a pair of comfortable sneakers. Choose your favorite path around your neighborhood or inside a local mall (if the weather doesn’t want to cooperate). Walking provides low-impact exercise with many health benefits and is a great way to reduce stress. So, after a tough day at work, lace up your shoes and hit the pavement!
Shop seasonally for fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh produce can easily become a very expensive part of your food budget. One way to reduce your costs is to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season at the time of shopping. The seasonality of produce can vary from state to state so check out the Seasonal Food Guide to see what fruits and veggies are in season in your area.
Journaling. Journaling has become one of my favorite ways to invest in my mental health. All you need is a few minutes a day and a notebook. When I journal, I literally put my pen to the paper and let anything and everything that is weighing on my mind spill out onto the pages. It’s a great way to get out everything that is running through your mind. I also set aside time each morning to write what I am grateful for each day. It helps start the day on a good foot and helps me keep the day’s ups and downs in perspective.
Meditation. There are numerous scientific studies that show meditation is good for your health. It doesn’t require a lot of time or skill to do each day, but it can have dramatic positive effects on your focus and concentration as well as reducing your stress. There are a number of free apps you can download that can help you get started meditating today.
Connect with family and friends on a regular basis. We all have busy lives, but we also need to take the time to reconnect with our loved ones from time to time. If you live by yourself, isolation can easily become a part of normal life for you unless you reach out to others. Spending quality time with family and friends doesn’t have to cost much – a phone call, a video chat or even a note in the mail – and will help deepen the relationships that mean so much to you.
What are low cost ways that you take care of your physical and mental health?