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Stress Management Techniques for Financial Professionals

Posted by Kim Bruce on Wed, Mar 25, 2020 @ 12:30 PM

STRESS IS EVERYWHERE! It’s waiting for you when you wake up in the morning and it’s there when you go to bed at night. It’s at home, which may be doubling as your office, it's in your car, it's on your phone…heck, you can’t escape it…ever. That's totally normal, especially right now! But it’s how you define it or how you let it define you that makes all the difference.


I stress, eustress, we all distress

Why can’t everything be easy? Why does our heartbeat skyrocket, our voice quiver and the blood rush to our face when things happen differently than we would like? Why do we care when the person driving in front of us is going under the speed limit or blows by us too fast? Why do we get upset when the grocery checkout line is backed up or the people in our office aren’t getting things done when we expect them to? It’s because things aren’t going the way we expect them to go. That’s all it is. Right now, those things may seem trivial compared to what we're all dealing with now, but the fact remains that we stress because things aren't going the way we anticipated they would. 

When that person speeds past me on the road and gives me the “you’re number 1” sign, I imagine they are upset because they just left the long line at the grocery store and they were met with an empty bathroom tissue shelf. That makes me a lot more understanding and I can give them a pass. The alternative is to give chase… with my hair on fire… and run them off the road. I can choose how to define the way I let stress impact me so in this case, I go with they could be dealing with something a lot worse. Many of us blow a fuse when things happen that we can’t control… that’s called distress. 

Distress comes from many sources

Commonly those sources are excessive work demands, internal conflicts, inadequate authority or training to carry out your tasks, and unproductive meetings or conversations cause stress. But it can also be a product of our normal routine being flipped on its head -- which many of us are attempting to adjust to currently.  Being a perfectionist, overscheduling, procrastination or the inability to know what's going to happen from one moment to the next or even plan very far in advance, are also stressors that you might be creating within yourself.

Good kinds of stress

Eustress is the positive stress that we experience in our lives. It comes from the things that make us happy, even if they require extra work and stamina. These are the things that give us purpose, the good things…like starting a new job or retiring, taking a vacation or buying a new home, accepting praise for outstanding performance or learning a new task… these are all positive stressors that keep us striving for goals, overcoming challenges and staying excited about life. It's how we'll get through this together. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if all your stress was good?

The way you mentally handle stress dictates how your body handles stress as well. If you allow yourself to react negatively, your body will respond and in most cases, that’s just not good. Knots in your shoulders, lower back pain, a stiff neck or headaches are only some of the milder responses to stress and even these things can add additional stress. Stress can also affect your immunity. According to Psychology Today, "Ongoing stress makes us susceptible to illness and disease because the brain sends defense signals to the endocrine system, which then releases an array of hormones that not only gets us ready for emergency situations but severely depresses our immunity at the same time." Pain is stressful and so are the visits to the doctor that you might need to get rid of the pain or the meds you take to eliminate symptoms. It’s a vicious circle.

Let’s remind ourselves of some stress relieving techniques

  • Take a deep breath…several deep breaths. I’m talking about full, deep, cleansing breaths, in through your nose, out through your mouth breaths that take a full 20-30 seconds to complete. During your breathing, relax fully in your chair, let your shoulders slump, your face relax and close your eyes. Listen to yourself breathe. 
  • When you feel stress building, take a walk. Prevention Magazine likens a 20 minute walk to taking a tranquilizer. I’m pretty sure that walk will have fewer side effects and if you walk every day, maybe you can ditch those tranquilizers all together. 
  • Experts agree that nature is a great way to de-stress your brain. If you can’t get to the woods, at least look out a window. This National Geographic article has a great explanation. Even though practically every place else is closed temporarily, the Great Outdoors is always open for business.
  • Do something that makes someone else less stressed. Being nice to others, experiencing their gratitude, makes us happy and lifts our spirits. If they don’t respond to your kindness, chalk it up to shock and keep doing nice things. It's a time to lead by example. When you're calm -- those around you tend to be calmer too. This is important when it comes to your family, your colleagues, and your clients.
  • Give yourself a little daydream. It’s ok to have a “non-doing” moment or two and take a mini vacation. It helps you relax and manage conflict. Heck, it might take you places that you’ll never get to otherwise.  Look it up on WebMD. It’s real.
  • If it helps, turn your stressor into something funny. Make yourself smile or laugh about it. People will wonder what you’re up to but that’s ok. This is about you. Although you may not want to make light of a situation like a global pandemic, sometimes a moment of comic relief -- to laugh at human nature like buying up all the TP-- is just what you need to keep moving forward. 
  • Disconnect – Seriously… turn off the news and social media for a little while. It makes sense to stay in tune with what's happening around the world, but constantly checking in can just make you feel worse. Disconnecting may make you nervous, but it won’t kill you. Stress might.

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This content is for informational and educational purposes only and is not designed, or intended, to be applicable to any person's individual circumstances. It should not be considered as investment advice, nor does it constitute a recommendation that anyone engage in (or refrain from) a particular course of action.