how to pick two from three of practical help, counselling, enjoyment?
March 18, 2022 2:25 PM   Subscribe

I'm a disabled UK person who gets what I consider a reasonable amount of state financial help, though always with the "sword of Damacles" that I could be reassessed at short notice and need to live on much less money. My mood has it's better and less-well times but in general is a bit "glass half empty". Looking ahead to the next year, I can afford two out of three from the following options - 1) having a cleaner so my living environment doesn't go into decline when my mood does 2) getting at least a dozen sessions with a counsellor I very much respect (until now I have only had student or charity counsellors who I did respect but had much less years of expertise) 3) "enjoyable activities" such as going out for coffees, for lunch in a cafe, to arthouse cinema, books from Amazon. How do I decide between my options?

I am not sure how comparable different countries are, but I'd be especially interested to hear from anyone who had limited funds but still found it worth it to have a good therapist, or had low motivation and was greatly helped by having a cleaner. My intuition is that having the mix of practical help from a cleaner and mental health help from a counsellor would be the best one, especially since those are two weaknesses that I can't make up for on my own. I don't actually need to go to the cinema as I have plenty of DVDs, and books for that matter, and a coffee pod would be OK for me instead of a cafe. The hard part is that these last set of "enjoyment" expenditures are very much ingrained "copes" so it would take quite a bit of willpower to break that habit of impulse buying books. I am very aware that it's a place of enormous privelege to have these decisions to make at a time when many working people with kids are having to use food banks and maybe have netflix as their only luxury in life, it's only the fact I have no kids/partners/smoking/drinking/socialising/holidays that gives me these options.
posted by AuroraSky to Work & Money (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Why not have all three by having the cleaner come half as often?
posted by shadygrove at 2:30 PM on March 18, 2022 [7 favorites]

Best answer: In your situation last year i opted for cleaner and therapist. Looking back for me it was the right choice. Especially as the cleaner is a lovely person, and her visits are a highlight of the week. Practically speaking also i feel so much better in a clean and tidy apartment.
posted by 15L06 at 2:46 PM on March 18, 2022 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I'm disabled, though our lives are different (I have a husband and child, and am not on benefits).

A biweekly cleaning service has been a considerable boost.

Previously the physical fatigue of keeping up, plus divvying things with my spouse, plus the stress when the house fell apart, all took a huge toll on my health.

I was in a doom loop of stress and symptoms and brain fog. It became an emergency (I zoned out and quite nearly burned my house down, at which point the cleaning service was absolutely happening.)

There are still tasks - getting things straightened up and decluttered is an undertaking (more so than average, because I have a toddler), plus we all have to be out of the house for several hours.

I was also recently able to start therapy (my insurance covers telehealth sessions). It's grand, but it's no lemony-scented freshly scrubbed toilet.

As for outings and such, eh. A walk is free, and I have a library card.
posted by champers at 2:57 PM on March 18, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I would go for a cleaner every other week or once a month and in a crisis you can ask that person to come in extra. (It genuinely makes a huge difference to me to know that even if help is not right in front of me when I need it most, the cavalry is coming, so that would be worth a lot to me.)

Leaving the house to do things is important too; I might do a weekly coffee and... I'm in Ireland and my library gives me access through Libby to borrow books digitally, and borrow audiobooks, as well as watch movies on Kanvas. I expanded my borrowing capabilities by joining the Chicago Public Library online for free, and by joining the Fairfax VA Public Library for $29. (All of the applications are processed online and they don't send anything to the physical address you make up.) I added both to Libby and can get most anything now, and usually instantly, so if you can read or listen digitally, that might be an option.

One thing that helps me to manage impulse buying of things like books and coffee is to put the budget for that on a free Revolut card. It's not that I can't have them, it's that I see the balance and make more considered decisions. I don't know if that would be useful to you in approaching this.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:01 PM on March 18, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Depends on your priorities. If it was me it would be counseling/enjoyment over the cleaner, but I'm a slob and don't care :P But seriously, splitting the difference and having a cleaner come in sporadically and then having some money left for fun would be my suggestion. I NEED to be able to buy at least stuff, even if some of it I get at the library. Also, if you have no money to go out with friends, then you end up feeling bad.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:03 PM on March 18, 2022

Best answer: I too would opt for the cleaner and/or therapist combo. I find that with a bit of creativity you can get some good outings and entertainment for free. Our libraries (Pacific Northwest, U.S.) now let people check out museum passes and even passes to state parks, digital books, and we can watch up to five movies a month from Kanopy for free. Many other museums have pay-what-you-can or free days. I used to volunteer usher at theaters and saw many shows for free back in the day.
posted by brookeb at 4:53 PM on March 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: You’re describing three different types of self-care:
1. Environmental / emotional (the latter because this indirectly leads to low mood for you)
2. Mental / Emotional / Reflective
3. Social

The questions that I’d consider are:

Which kind do I really need right now?
Are these the only or best ways to meet these needs?

Personally, I’d opt for counselling as that has more core and long-lasting impact and will enable all forms of self care to be improved and benefitted from more easily. Social can be met for free in a lot of ways. You may opt to increase the cleaning as you need fewer counselling sessions over time, if you wish.

That’s just one way to do it of course! I’d come up with a little menu of what’s right for you, so that you can pick from it when you like. That could be real handy when the pricier social options are tempting you too.
posted by iamkimiam at 7:11 PM on March 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Cleaner = dishes you don’t have to do = easier time eating.
posted by Bottlecap at 8:56 PM on March 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've tried counseling a few times and each time, I decide after a couple months that hedonism is a much better use of my time and money. You don't know that yet though, so try out the counselor, and it it doesn't seem to be useful to you, stop that and start doing fun things instead. (I highly recommend massages!)
posted by metasarah at 6:23 AM on March 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

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