22/07/2016 10:37 AM AEST | Updated 24/07/2016 12:07 PM AEST

Money Is A Barrier To Health, Here's What You Can Do About It

How to look after yourself for next to nothing.

Jasper James
If you feel like you're not taking care of yourself, it's time to change.

If Australia's collective grandmother asked the population 'are you looking after yourself?' the answer would be 'no'.

New research shows we're not taking care of our bodies and our sleep not to mention taking time for mental health and our main reason for this neglect is money.

The study of 1000 adults by healthcare and nutrition business Bayer Australia found 40 percent weren't looking after themselves as well as they'd like and 89 percent blamed poverty and lack of education as the key barriers to looking after their own health.

What Is Self Care?

Self-care is a coverall term for an individual's diet, sleep, exercise and mental health.

According to WHO, Self-Care is what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health, and to prevent and deal with illness.

It is a broad concept encompassing hygiene, nutrition, lifestyle, environmental factors, socio-economic factors and self-medication.

The study found low and high-income earners had different views to their health, with 34 percent of low-income earners rating their health as very good compared to 55 percent of high-income earners.

Shutterstock / danilobiancalana
We all lack motivation some days.

The barriers to better self care for low-income earners were a lack of money and motivation while for high-income earners it was a lack of free time and lack of motivation.

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia self-care advisor John Bell said self care was sometimes a preventative measure for more serious (and more expensive) conditions.

"Preventative measures to maintain health or prevent disease need to be taken and can be as simple as a daily walk," Bell said.

"Half of the nation is living with a chronic disease of some form. Evidence shows that almost a third of these cases could be prevented by removing exposure to risk factors such as smoking, being overweight, alcohol use and physical inactivity."

How to care for yourself in ways that don't cost a thing


Only one fifth of Australians are getting as much sleep as they need, and most don't even know what's normal. The Australian Sleep Health Foundation's daily recommendations are:

Age 14-17 -- 8–10 hours

Age 18-64 -- 7–9 hours

Age 65 -- 7–8 hours

Kaz Chiba
Naps count as part of your daily sleep quota.

If you find you're not getting enough sleep, try to keep a sleep diary for one month detailing how long your sleep was each night, and also the quality. See if you can determine whether anything out of the ordinary happens on nights of poor sleep -- like lack of exercise or different foods. And remember, naps count as part of your daily total.


Not everyone can afford a 24-hour gym subscription or a personal training app but a daily 30-minute walk is entirely free.

Sylvain Sonnet
Walking is free. As is whimsical dancing precariously close to a waterway.

The Victorian Government's Better Health channel showed benefits of a half-hour brisk walk on most days include stronger bone density, a reduction of excess fat and increased endurance.


Once you've got a staple of quick, cheap recipes eating well is easy.

In the supermarket, go for plant-based foods like seasonal vegetables, buy anything you can freeze in bulk, and go for more-filling wholegrain breads and crackers.

7 Easy Tips For Eating Healthy On A Budget


Mental health group says self-care is a way of recharging yourself and helps to manage health issues.

Their tips to straightforward self-care include rostering time in your diary to do something that makes you feel relaxed.

They suggest anything that makes you 'switch off', like solving a puzzle or reading a book.

Then for those times that are harder to deal with, ReachOut recommends breathing exercises to start with.