The Deliberate Year – Debt, Anxiety & Postboxes 📮❤️

Let’s all stop pretending that anxiety is just for people who are saying “I feel anxious”

Let’s face it, the world is a literal trash fire just now. 🔥

We are lurching towards a second wave of Covid, our Government doesn’t know its arse from its elbow & an entire generation of young people have just had their exam results spaffed up a wall.

So naturally . . . we all feel a bit anxious right? Damn right.

Since lockdown began, reports of adults feeling increasingly anxious have risen faster than Trump’s heckles when asked to explain bar charts (thank you as ever to Jonathan Swan for one of the highlights of 2020).

Anxiety is something that a lot of us suffer from, so we decided to have a virtual chat with one of our favourite anxiety advocates – the delightful Catherine from The Deliberate Year.

💖 Hi Catherine 👋 First off, what inspired The Deliberate Year? Was it a conscious decision that came over a long period of time? Or was it more a case of fuck, it I need to sort something out?

If I’m honest, I don’t really remember.

I was so so so anxious & I knew that something needed to change.

I like to set birthday resolutions instead of New Year’s resolutions, because January is for reading books & hibernating. So that year I decided I was just going to sort everything out. Quite a bold resolution for someone who was barely functioning but ok!

I started where I’d started a thousand times earlier – a diet. But quickly realised that actually my financial health was far more pressing than my physical health (& that, unsurprisingly, standing on scales wasn’t helping my mood).

It’s never just been a financial journey, but finances definitely dominated that first year.

💖 What’s been the biggest challenges of doing a lock down no spend year? How has it impacted on you socially (pre-lockdown)?

The no spend year actually hasn’t presented too many challenges.

I was really ready for it. It was something that I’ve thought about for a long time. Also, my friends have met me, they know that I’m prone to doing things that they aren’t expecting. When I said I was doing a no spend year, no-one really cared – once I’d reassured them that they’ll still get birthday gifts 😂

Lockdown has made it easier in some ways. Nobody is suggesting coffee or going for dinner – but my first big breach of the rules was panic buying a car – so if I need to, I can get back to my family in a flash.

She’s a 2000 Ford Fiesta & she’s the best thing I’ve ever bought. 🚗

💖 What are the ways you think money/spending & anxiety are related?

God, it’s so complex & so intertwined in ways that I couldn’t have imagined.

When my finances weren’t in a great place, I felt so much shame about that. On an existential level I was thinking – “I’m in my 30s, shouldn’t I have a better grasp on my finances, shouldn’t I have savings or a house?” but on a more practical level, I just dreaded that last week before payday or checking my bank account before I went to the supermarket.

Admitting to myself that I’d let things get out of hand was a horrible feeling. But building an emergency fund was the antidote to that anxiety.

Knowing that I could deal with small emergencies was the thing that empowered me to start paying off debt.

Admitting to myself that I’d let things get out of hand was a horrible feeling. But building an emergency fund was the antidote to that anxiety

💖 How do you feel about the debt shaming aspect on social media – thinking specifically of accounts/programmes that aim to shame people into debt & that’s it’s a question of ‘ethics’ to get out of debt (not my words!).

I hate it. I hate it so much!

There’s a thousand reasons that someone could be in debt, each individually more complex than “they just spent too much money”.

There’s huge societal structures at play that mean that some groups of people are more likely to accrue & maintain debt – we know this.

Aside from all of that, unless you paid for a hit man on a credit card, your finances are probably not a question of morality. So treating it like one is fundamentally a dick move.

💖 You talk on your account about being deliberate about anxiety? How would you define this? Do you feel a bigger conversation needs to take place about the impact of anxiety?

When I’m really anxious, I become truly stationary.

I won’t get dressed & I’ll only eat beige foods (the most delicious food group in my opinion). That only makes me more anxious so I try to avoid letting that spiral start.

That’s not to say a potato waffle never crosses my lips, that would be madness! But it does mean that I have to work at not getting into that headspace. I suppose like a person who has a chronic injury would do specific things to avoid a flare up.

& yes, absolutely let’s talk about it more!

Especially post-lockdown, let’s all stop pretending that anxiety is just for people who are saying “I feel anxious”.

For the most part, you’d never know I was anxious, unless I told you or you were in my room watching me shovel carbs into my face (which would be very weird of you).

💖 What do you find have been the biggest obstacles in the challenge

Managing the tiny voice in my head that says “if you just lose some weight, all these problems will be gone”. As if thin Catherine would suddenly know about investing or be able to just. stop. scrolling. (Spoiler: she definitely wouldn’t).

💖 Have you found some good bits about the process & what have they been?

I can’t think of bad bits

(I lie, I would kill to pop to the shop over the road & buy a cold diet coke most days), but generally I’ve loved this.

The best bit though . . . the best bit has to be the community I’ve found myself in.

I am constantly cheered along & I’ve even found people who will share my obsession with post boxes. Does anything beat that? I think not.

A cheeky multi-monarch insignia here

💖 Do you think the Deliberate Year has had a positive affect on your mindset?

I sound like such a dick when I talk about this, but it’s been genuinely transformative.

It’s impacted every area of my life.

I can’t say anything else or I’ll sound like a Hallmark card 😂

💖 Is there anything you wish you’d known before you started this process?

People on the internet are nicer than you might give them credit for.

💖 What tips would you give to baby Deliberate Yearers or no spenders who are thinking of starting the process?

👶 – To baby Deliberate Yearers, it’s bloody scary digging into this stuff. Be super gentle with yourself.

Find yourself a gang that will cheer you along (they might not be your real life gang – that’s ok) & then if you need to sort out your finances, set about creating an emergency fund.

Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that an emergency fund has to be x amount. They’ve forgotten that £1000 is a lot of money for lots of people – particularly people who have never had savings.

You save whatever feels comfortable for you & stick two fingers up at anyone who tells you you’re wrong. It’s your money, not anyone else’s.

🙅 – No Spenders – when you decide your rules, take into account that a pandemic might come along. It’s a real game changer 😂

💖 Where would you like the Deliberate Year to lead you? I’ve seen there are some money goals but is it more a transformative process for mindset?

The thing about being deeply anxious is that it takes longer than a year to sort out, maybe it’s a lifelong effort, who knows!

After a year of working on my finances, I felt excited & engaged about them – rather than anxious. But I still have deep anxieties around my physical health, which is what I’m working through in this second round of the Deliberate Year.

I watched some heart surgery (I’m training to be a nurse) & the heart I saw looked like it was made of cheese. That does stuff to your brain.

I’d rather feel excited & engaged with my physical health than be freaking out that my heart looks like cheese, you know?

💖 If you could take your message public what would it say?

First off – your worth isn’t determined by a number.

Not a bank account balance, not a number on a scale, not how many GCSEs you got or how many people you’ve had sex with. It just isn’t.

Secondly – go outside. For the love of all that is holy, go outside!

A gentle reminder to us all

So there we have it.

By all indulging in some rest, self care & love & patience with ourselves we can hope to navigate this Mad Max world.

Along with Catherine being an all round smashing person, she is also undertaking an amazing fundraising walk to raise funds for Just4Children & to help a little girl be able to walk.

Please go check this out at Cath’s INKAredible Walk.

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