mental health lockdown

Maintaining Mental Health during Lockdown

COVID-19 has resulted in millions of families living under lockdown conditions in that they may only leave their homes to purchase groceries and medical supplies, or to seek medical attention in case of emergency. With so many businesses being forced to close during this time, several families are left without any form of income – resulting in soaring stress levels all round. Below are some tips that can help ensure that your mental health is not too badly affected.

  1. Keep a Routine wherever Possible

For the first time in many years, more individuals than ever are working from home – or simply having to stay home because their employers have been forced to close during the pandemic. Parents have had to try and educate their children while also working from home, which has placed a tremendous amount of stress on many families. 

Creating a routine, such as early morning exercise, mid morning homeschooling, lunchtime, afternoon chores and free time in the evenings will go a long way in helping to retain a sense of normalcy during these uncertain times. 

  1. Restrict Access to Social Media and News Sites

Two of the biggest sources of stress that can contribute to a decline of your mental health during lockdown are social media and news sites. 

Experts recommend that you avoid social media channels that share speculative information, while also limiting your access to reputable news sites as much as possible. Try to set specific times of day for checking your social media accounts and news sites, as constant access can leave you feeling more overwhelmed than ever before. 

  1. Spend Some Time Outdoors 

Several research studies have indicated that being able to spend time outdoors in nature provides a positive boost to mental as well as physical health. 

Exposing your body to natural light will also increase serotonin and melatonin levels – both of which have positive effects on mental and physical health. Even going for a short walk around a few city blocks will help you feel better than if you stay cooped up indoors throughout the pandemic. 

  1. Consider De-cluttering your Home

Although you may be stuck at home indefinitely, this actually provides you and your family with an ideal opportunity to engage in a major de-cluttering and deep cleaning project. 

Start by working on one room at a time and remove items that are no longer wanted or needed, and perform a deep clean on windows, walls and floors at the same time. Items that cannot be repaired should also be tossed at this time. After a week or two, you and your family will be able to enjoy spending time in a home that is not only clean, but properly organized as well. 

Partaking in the above mentioned activities might not seem like the most exciting option while so many families are living under lockdown and not able to leave their homes, but they could help make the coping process a lot easier and less stressful for everyone concerned. 

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retirement healthy

Keep your Body and Mind Healthy after Retirement

Although retirement sounds like a dream come true for several individuals, the end of what has often been a lifelong career path is usually accompanied by a sudden decline in mental stimulation – which can result in the development of many different health issues. As such, it’s essential that you keep your mind and body as active as possible once you’ve stopped working and the tips below can help you achieve this. 

  1. Learn a New Hobby or Skill

Do you have interests that you simply didn’t have time for while you were working? If so, now may be the ideal time to pick up on them. Don’t be afraid to sign up for those ballroom dancing classes, art classes, or even sewing classes. Now could even be the right time to learn how to play a musical instrument.

Studies have revealed that seniors who actively engage in one or more creative activities on a regular basis were at a far lower risk of developing conditions such as Alzheimer’s as they aged. 

  1. Remain Physically Active

Regardless of whether you enjoy tacking challenging hiking trails, taking a slow bicycle ride through your neighborhood or playing in the yard with your grandchildren, you will be stimulating your body and mind simultaneously. 

Engaging in physical activity on at least three days per week will help keep bones strong, reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure and/or heart disease and even lower cholesterol levels over time. If you haven’t been overly active until now, it’s recommended that you schedule a physical exam with your healthcare provider before rushing into any form of exercise. 

  1. Calm your Mind

Many individuals think that their stress will miraculously disappear once they’ve stopped working. However, daily family life and even financial concerns can negatively affect your mental clarity. 

Some of the best ways to keep your mind clear and sharp are to become involved with yoga or meditation and to avoid unnecessary stressful situations wherever possible. It’s also a good idea to severely limit the amount of time you spend with people who are constantly exuding negativity. 

  1. Eat a Balanced Diet

Although no one is expected to live only on healthy foods day in and day out, you should do everything possible to ensure that the bulk of your food choices are as healthy as possible. 

A balanced diet is one that should include a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, a selection of nuts, meat, fish and chicken (if you aren’t vegetarian or vegan) and a variety of healthy fats. In some cases, you may need to supplement your diet with fish oil capsules and a good multivitamin. 

Retiring from the workforce certainly doesn’t mean that you’ll have to give up everything else as well. The more active you keep your mind and body after you have stopped working, the healthier you will be. Making your mental and physical health a priority during retirement will ensure that you’ll be able to feel fit and healthy for as long as possible. 

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covid 19

How COVID-19 Could Affect your Retirement Savings

COVID-19 has not only affected the way in which millions of individuals live and work each day; economists have noted that it could have disastrous effects on retirement savings as well – with some even being wiped out completely. Below are a few ways in which the current pandemic could have a negative effect on your retirement funding and plans.

  1. Retirement Savings worth Trillions of Dollars could Vanish

During 2008, the Russell 3000 index that reflects the performance of the whole US stock market lost almost 40% in value. This resulted in the value of several US retirement accounts such as 401(k)s and numerous private retirement accounts falling by approximately 25% – effectively erasing as much as $2 trillion in retirement savings. 

So far in 2020, the Russell 3000 Index fell by 25%, and this has decimated as much as $3.8 trillion in retirement savings funds and accounts.

  1. Some Employers may Cut matching Contributions for 401(k) Accounts

More than 10 million employees have filed claims for unemployment benefits in the past few weeks, and those that have been laid off are also no longer able to contribute to their 401(k) plans. 

Virtually all employers that provide 401(k) plans for employees offer to match contributions up to predetermined amounts, and these matches usually average up to 5% of an employee’s earnings. However, as the economy takes a nosedive, several employers are cutting costs wherever possible – with these matching contributions often being the first in line to be reduced or even eliminated. 

  1. Employees may have to Dip into Retirement Accounts

When financial emergencies arise – such as having income eliminated during the current pandemic – several individuals have no other option but to dip into their retirement accounts just to put food on the table or avoid being evicted from their homes. 

If the funds withdrawn from these retirement accounts are not repaid, this will result in many employees not having sufficient capital to see them through retirement. 

  1. Some Employees may have to Retire Earlier than Planned

Many older employees who have been laid off as a result of the pandemic may be forced to take early retirement if their places of work don’t reopen or staff numbers are reduced upon opening. In many cases, older employees are among the first to be laid off when companies have to cut expenses. 

Although Social Security provides a financial lifeline to unemployed individuals who are over the age of 62, beneficiaries who start collecting as soon as they reach 62 will receive up to 30% less funding than if they had been able to hold out until reaching age 66 and 8 months.

It’s clear that the pandemic will have a negative effect on the value of retirement accounts for the foreseeable future. However, this doesn’t mean that all is lost where your savings are concerned. If you would like to find out how you can get your retirement savings back on track or you’d like to start planning safor this time of your life, contact our advisers today.

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pandemic savings

Dealing with Financial Uncertainty during a Pandemic

Coronavirus has significantly impacted the daily lives of millions of individuals all over the world, with several countries implementing stringent lockdown procedures to curb the spread. Not only has this affected the way people live in general; many businesses have had to close as well, leaving scores of individuals with any way to earn an income. If you’re currently struggling with financial uncertainty, the tips below can help you through this challenging time. 

  1. Put Large Purchases on Hold

The last thing you want to do when your finances are severely limited or worse, non-existent is commit to making any large purchases – especially if they will require monthly repayment. For instance, you may have been planning on replacing your vehicle or doing home upgrades while your finances were more stable, but now is certainly not the time to spend any money unnecessarily. Hold off until such time as your income is more stable.

  1. Cut General Expenses wherever Possible

At a time when your next paycheck is not a certainty, you’ll also want to keep your general spending to an absolute minimum. This is the ideal time to go through each line item in your budget and determine whether it’s a genuine necessity or not. Items such as Netflix or other monthly subscription services may be nice to have but should be eliminated until such time as you’re more financially stable. 

When planning your grocery list, snack items may sometimes need to be reduced or even eliminated to cut costs. Sugary cereals can be replaced with oatmeal for example, which will provide far more value for money over time. Although it may initially be difficult to eliminate fancier foods, it’s important to remember that maintaining financial stability is far more important over time than a bag of crisps.

  1. Don’t be too Proud to Apply for Assistance

Although many individuals think that applying for and obtaining government assistance is only for ‘poor folk.’ However, various stimulus packages and other forms of financial assistance have been made available in each state to specifically address shortfalls that members of the public are experiencing as a result of not being able to work at the moment. 

While it may seem like there’s a tedious amount of paperwork to fill in when applying for this assistance, it will certainly go a long way in helping you to put food on the table or even pay your rent while you aren’t able to earn an income as usual. Most recipients who have applied for assistance have received direct deposits into their bank accounts within a few days at the most. 

The most important aspect to remember when dealing with any form of financial uncertainty is to limit spending wherever possible – and until such time as you’re able to work again. If you’re unsure of how to compile a realistic budget or you need assistance with regards to seeing where some of your expenses can be trimmed or even eliminated, get in touch with our financial team today. We will be more than willing to assist you. 

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