Let's talk about stress. It happens to the best of us, even in the best of times. Money is a source of stress for everyone, and being the one responsible for it can actually make it harder. A recent survey by the Financial Planning Association, Janus Henderson and Investopedia found that 71% of advisors said they experience moderate or high negative stress compared to only 63% of investors.
And when times aren't so easy, during even momentary downturns, it gets worse; clients panic and seek remedies and reassurance from their advisors, deluging you with calls and emails, filling your calendar with tense meetings, and before long a brief dip really does start to feel like a crisis.
You might think that high stress is just part of the job. That's why they pay you the big bucks, right? Wrong!
In addition to all the negative consequences for your health, chronic stress leads to impaired judgment, makes it harder to learn new things and prevents you from seeing novel solutions.
If you want to be your best for yourself and your clients, you have to learn how to keep your challenges from overwhelming you.
While there are no magic words to keep your clients calm and your inbox clear, there are some tried and true stress-reduction methods you can use, a few of which we've presented here.
1. Take a Deep Breath
Actually, take several. Taking deep breaths in from the belly and exhaling slowly, otherwise known as diaphragmatic breathing, stimulates the vagus nerve, reducing the fight-or-flight response, lowering blood pressure, slowing the heart rate, and generally making us feel better. The best part is, you can do it anytime, anywhere.
Just take a slow, deep breath in, trying to expand the belly and the ribcage. Then let it out slowly, more slowly than you inhaled, because it's that slow exhalation that triggers the vagus nerve. Do this for as long as you need to settle down, though you will feel noticeably calmer after just one minute of diaphragmatic breathing. Repeat as necessary.
2. Create and Maintain Boundaries
As an advisor, helping people is your job, and when people come to you feeling desperate and frantic, the natural human impulse is to drop everything and help them. You may even feel that your job requires you to be available and responsive at all times. You want to provide the very best service and support you can and make your clients feel like you're always there when they need you. With all the technology in arm's reach, it certainly seems possible, but it's not.
No one can be "at work" 24/7. You wouldn't expect it of anyone else, and it's equally unreasonable to expect it from yourself. Trying to be there for everyone all the time only leads to burnout. Having a big, satisfying block of time every day in which you're not working or even thinking about work may seem impossible during hectic periods, but thats when it's most important. Find that period, whether it's nights, meals, activities with family, or whatever you need to feel sane, and enforce those time boundaries vigorously. Let clients know when you won't be checking your email outside of your usual work hours, and assure them that you will respond at the earliest opportunity. Recruit family and friends to remind you to take time for yourself. Lock your phone in a drawer if you have to. Just make sure that you remember to include yourself in your schedule.
Another thing that can help you keep boundaries is having solid professional support. Savvy Wealth brings you just that, giving you a team of wealth management professionals to share the load, an online portal to track your clients' portfolios, and a mobile app to do business right from your phone, as soon as you take it out of the drawer.
3. Get Enough Sleep
Before protesting that you don't have time to get enough sleep, consider that you can't afford not to. Sleep isn't a luxury or an indulgence, it's absolutely essential to a functional body and mind.
How much is adequate for an adult? 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. To do this, you have to practice what experts call sleep hygiene: Go to bed at the same time every night. Remove electronics from the bedroom. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and large meals before bedtime. This will not only give you more energy and alertness throughout the day, it will also reduce stress and improve your ability to respond to challenging situations.
Another essential investment in your well-being is exercise; the ultimate stress-buster. Raising your endorphins, mitigating the negative effects of stress and improving your mood are just a few of the benefits. It may seem daunting, especially if it's been awhile since you hit the gym, but any kind of sustained moderate activity for just 20-30 minutes a day will get you to the minimum recommended 150 minutes per week Whether you're taking a brisk walk on your lunch break or doing some yoga before bed, it's easy to fit into your lifestyle and schedule, and it's another great opportunity to unplug for a while.
5. Practice Mindfulness & Meditation
Mindfulness has become the hot new way to increase productivity by enhancing mental clarity and reducing stress, because it really works. Spending just 15 minutes per day to sit with no goal but to be in the present moment will yield huge dividends. Courses and apps to help you get started are just a click away, but you don't really need them; just find a comfortable place to sit, breathe slowly and easily, following your breath in and out, and allow the noise of the world and the thoughts and feelings that arise in you to come and go without judgment. With all the big responsibilities you shoulder throughout the day, having this time in which you don't have to make any decisions or even form any opinions is the daily break you need and deserve.
6. Get the Support You Need
As an advisor, you do have a tremendous responsibility to your clients, and you may think that means you've got to handle everything yourself. Sometimes, however, being responsible means finding people you can trust to help you shoulder your burdens.
Once again, this is what Savvy Wealth is for. We can connect you to a team of professionals to help you make sure your clients are always in good hands, and we provide you with tools to manage your business so you can focus on what's important.
If you've read this far, you've probably identified a running theme of self-care, and that's a good idea to close on. In challenging times, it's easy to get so busy putting out fires for everyone else that we don't smell the smoke in our own house. Please remember to take care of yourself. It's the only way youll be at your best to take care of everyone else.