Economic Empowerment and Healthy Lifestyles

Rena P. Dixon, PhD, MPH, MCHES

Close-up up of a man’s hand holding pen in front of financial information

Every April, the American Public Health Association (APHA) takes the time to celebrate public health with an entire week. APHA highlights different themes that affect our communities at large. 2020’s themes are mental health, maternal and child health, violence prevention, education, healthy housing, economics and environmental health. We must continue to have conversations that affect and determine our life expectancy.

While we all often wonder what a few extra dollars in our paycheck will bring us, the concept of economic empowerment is rooted in focusing on the art of decision making that involves control over and allocation of financial resources (Golla et al., 2011). Many low income households are forced to make tough decisions related to meals, physical activity and health care needs every day.

While many of us do not have the opportunity to gain additional resources or pay, we can learn habits that will enable better decision making with the resources available. The concept of economic empowerment is thought to allow poor people to think beyond immediate daily survival and to exercise greater control over both their resources and life choices. For example, it enables households to make their own decisions around making investments in health and education and taking risks in order to increase their income. There is also some evidence that economic empowerment can strengthen vulnerable groups’ participation in the decision-making (Social and Economic Empowerment, 2014).

Even if you are just starting out on your professional journey or are still working towards the completion of your academic degree, these small steps can help you not only plan financially for your future but also provide a safety net in the event of tough times. Financial literacy skills are not only beneficial to our personal lives but they can also be beneficial in teaching younger generations early on how to learn money management, the concept of debt and how to allocate financial resources. What are things that you can do to assist with starting to build your own stability and take steps toward strengthening your own economic empowerment? Forbes Magazine and The American Psychological Association suggest the following tips:

  • Take a financial literacy class online
  • Create a monthly budget and track your spending
  • Make one decision at a time
  • Open a savings account for an emergency fund
  • Remember what is important
  • Set goals

Anxiety and stress can come hand in hand with a lack of finances and the struggle to make financial decisions that impact individuals and families. No one can predict when these types of situations may arise due to the loss of a job or any other life circumstance.

Taking control of your health during times of financial stress not only helps you focus on a goal but it also allows you to create space to give yourself grace to work through a difficult time. Also understanding how you respond to stress and assisting in making a plan for coping not only with financial stress but also any other potentially stressful situations is a step in practicing healthy lifestyle habits.

If you find yourself in a tough situation financially there are also things that you can do that will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle:

  • Exercise or meditate to reduce stress levels
  • Plan your meals in advance
  • Focus on economical fruits and vegetables
  • Buy frozen fruits and vegetables
  • Try couponing

The College of Nursing and Health Care Professions helps students prepare for rewarding careers in the healthcare field through quality programs. Learn more by visiting our website or contacting us using the green Request More Information button at the top of the page.

References

  • Dealing with Financial Stress. (2020). American Psychological Association. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/holiday-stress-finances
  • Golla, A., Malhtora, A., Nada, P., and Mehra, R. (2011). Understanding and Measuring Women’s Economic Empowerment. Retrieved from https://www.icrw.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Understanding-measuring-womens-economic-empowerment.pdf
  • Social and Economic Empowerment. (2014). GSDRC Applied Knowledge Services. Retrieved from https://gsdrc.org/topic-guides/voice-empowerment-and-accountability/supplements/social-and-economic-empowerment/
  • 5 Strategies to Deal with Financial Stress. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/dealing-with-financial-stress-2385957
  • Forbes Magazine. (2015). Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/northwesternmutual/2015/05/19/7-tips-to-reduce-financial-stress-in-your-life/#5dd23e6b3339

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