Holistic wellbeing is essential for a healthy and productive life and we can think of wellbeing as being the sum of three component parts – a ‘wellbeing tripod’ if you will.
What are the three components of the wellbeing tripod?
The wellbeing tripod consists of:
- Physical wellbeing
- Mental wellbeing
- Financial wellbeing
Generally, we’re all familiar with the idea of physical wellbeing and its impact on our health. Physical wellbeing has been spoken about for some time now – in fact, the government ‘5 a day’ fruit and veg campaign started over 20 years ago, back in the early 2000’s!
For a bit of background: the Greeks were the first to laud the body and elevate human perfection, so it’s no surprise that Greece was the birthplace of the Olympics – the ultimate celebration of the body.
It wasn’t until two millennia later that a founder of the American Psychiatric Association first raised the idea of “mental hygiene” – the idea of preserving the mind, which leads us to…
In a nutshell, our mental wellbeing consists of our thoughts, feelings and how we cope with the ups and downs of everyday life.
Mental wellbeing hasn’t been in the spotlight as long as physical wellbeing, but a lot of work has been done by campaigners and organisations like Mind and Time To Change over the last decade to address this.
While there’s still a way to go in terms of removing stigma (particularly around some mental health problems like bipolar disorder and personality disorders) and encouraging open dialogue, more and more of us are becoming comfortable talking about our mental wellbeing.
Financial wellbeing is when your financial situation is such that you are able to:
- Withstand financial shocks (such as a recession)
- Take advantage of financial opportunities without compromising your larger financial picture (such as a depressed property market when you are looking to own your own place)
In essence, being ‘financially well’ means you can control your finances (rather than being controlled by them).
The forgotten third leg
The three legs of the tripod are equally critical. Think about how a tripod works: if one leg breaks, the whole structure comes crashing down.
Both physical and mental wellbeing have been studied, codified and extolled. The poor cousin has for far too long been financial wellbeing. The third leg.
How financial wellbeing impacts students
Yet research has demonstrated a clear correlation between stress about money and poor physical and psychological health. Our own research at Blackbullion has shown that 67% of students surveyed who worry about their financial situation say this negatively impacts their mental health.
This impact manifests in a lack of motivation to study and an inability to sleep but critically, it also triggers depression, feelings of isolation and hopelessness. It also triggers self-harm for approximately 1 in 6 of the students who report that worrying about their financial situation negatively impacts their mental health.
These feelings can further exacerbate financial issues. Those who believe they are not worthy or capable of managing their money will lean into their past failures and negative self-image and so hinder their financial growth, creating a negative feedback loop. Meanwhile, higher self esteem and confidence leads people to approach money in a more positive and productive way.
For too long, our mental and physical health have been viewed as separate and unrelated to financial wellbeing. But clearly, when it comes to the legs of a tripod, you can’t have some without the other.
To explore the link between money and mental health for students further, get your copy of the whitepaper report, Money and mental health: how financial wellbeing impacts students.
This critical link is a topic close to my heart and was also the inspiration for my second book, Stay Financially Healthy While You Study. The book aims to help students (and parents and guardians) financially prepare for student life. Available for pre-order wherever you get your books!
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