UNLESS you are lucky enough to be one of the extremely wealthy, it’s hard for most of us to switch off from the cost of living crisis, writes psychotherapist and columnist Jody Merelle.

Over the past year we have had to deal with massive hikes in energy prices, the exorbitant cost of petrol, huge increases in the cost of food as well as thirteen rises in interest rates hitting anyone with a non fixed-rate mortgage.

With my job involving speaking to people about how they are doing almost every day, it’s a rare occasion when someone doesn’t mention how things have been difficult financially.

When you are worried about basics like paying the gas bill and putting food on the table it is natural to deprioritise the little treats and luxuries that you might once have enjoyed. In our family we used to sometimes enjoy going to see a show at the theatre.

Every once in a while we would look forward to eating out somewhere.

But those are things we simply can’t do anymore. We haven’t bought any new clothes in a long time and the last time I went to the hairdressers was for my wedding several years ago! The summer holiday that we might have had in the past won’t be happening this year either.

However, despite the fact that most of us have had to cut back on things we used to enjoy – it remains ever more important to find little ways of treating yourself that aren’t going to break the bank.

The trick is to think creatively about ways to do that in the face of a restricted budget. Any family with children will know how much a day at a theme park can set you back. But the kids (and adults) can have just as much fun with some games on a field and a picnic if you approach the day with a positive attitude.

For anyone who likes reading, an inexpensive treat can be to meet up with a friend and visit some charity shops on the hunt for a good book. With many shops selling paperbacks for £1, you can often find a cheap read as well as enjoying the satisfaction of finding something you might never have thought of reading otherwise.

During the hot weather in June I sometimes met up with a friend on the Wetherspoons terrace in Teignmouth. For the price of a diet coke we enjoyed spending an hour feeling as though we were actually somewhere tropical. For just a little bit more you can enjoy an afternoon at the Lido. With the sun is shining it is not difficult to bag a sun bed and imagine that you are abroad on holiday for less than the price of a fish and chip supper.

A shared lunch is another way to have a low cost celebration where each person brings along just one dish but gets to sample what everyone else has brought too.

And for really special occasions you can drum up your own cream tea for a fraction of what it would cost in a café.

Almost everyone has had to make significant adjustments to their lifestyle recently and it can be easy to feel despondent about all the things you can no longer afford. However it remains just as important to try and find ways of treating ourselves from time to time.

We might not be able to enjoy the things we once could – but with a little bit of creativity and imagination you can still find the same pleasure in a much more economical way.

It has not been an easy couple of years and the signs are that this may go on for some time yet – making it all the more important to find those little ways to treat yourself and those around you without it having to cost a fortune.