What's keeping South African women up at night?
South African women are no strangers to juggling multiple roles. The Covid-19 pandemic and national lockdown has only exacerbated this with the additional pressures of managing personal finances. An online survey conducted by Sanlam reports that 86.4% of South African women ranked financial worries as the top reason for their sleepless nights, with health coming in at a close second at 65.4%.
Many studies have proven that stress can affect the ability to make good financial decisions, and when poor decisions can lead to more stress, anxiety and even depression. Which is why it’s important that women do not ignore their psychological health but also important that women also get support with planning their financial goals as to close the advice gap we saw in the responses to survey with only 22% of women having a financial adviser who helps them with their finances, says Kenosi Magosha, Head: Client Solutions Savings at Sanlam.
Clinical psychologist Nozibusiso Nyawose notes that lockdown has also increased the responsibilities of women in the home: “This now encompasses household duties, meal preparation, supervision, home-schooling and working from home – all of which can lead to frustration, burnout and impaired decision-making”.
Both Nyawose and Magosha advise that just as we have to inculcate habits of regular handwashing, wearing of masks and social distancing, we should practice habits that support maintaining our mental and financial health. This can be done by staying focused on goals, reviewing them regularly, setting and managing a budget and debt, and avoiding making financial decisions when feeling stress but rather create some breathing room before making the decisions.
In addition to financial and health concerns, 51.8% of the survey respondents were concerned about employment during and after lockdown. Research done by the WHO and other global research shown that job insecurity is the most stressful aspect of the process leading to unemployment with a worse impact on employees than unemployment itself. This further emphasizes the importance of providing support for psychological wellbeing to enable women’s mental, financial and overall resilience. The survey also found that 49.4% of women were concerned about the state of the economy, which is expected to contract by 7.2% in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, while 15.1% were worried about being isolated from family and friends.
While the latter is less of a concern since the country’s move to lockdown Level 2 on 18 August, international speaker, author, parenting coach and founder of Munchkins, Andalene Salvesen, says women must still prioritise time for themselves in order to manage these challenges and stresses. “Make a fresh start every opportunity you can,” she says. “Force yourself to find a little thing to be grateful for and focus on that then allow it to grow to two things. Your mind is so powerful so when you focus on the negative, you not only become that but draw it to yourself as well.”
Salvesen advises women to delegate tasks to the rest of their household and implement a predictable routine that allows for clear boundaries and creates a sense of safety.
“There is a general consensus that woman are strong and are the foundation of everything. We tend to take on more tasks than we can handle but it is however, important women don’t try go the road alone. We need to put pillars of support in place from a community of women they do life with, family, as well as adopt habits to take care of psychological, physical and financial health. There is an opportunity for women to also engage with professional financial advice to close the advice gap as they look to make plans to become financially resilient and set themselves up for a rebound and financial success in the future. ,” concludes Magosha.