4 Steps for Better Emotional Health During Times of Stress

As people all across the world are working to adjust to the unprecedented events that have unfolded over the past weeks, we thought it may help to share some practices we personally follow to help ourselves remain grounded and be present in our interactions with you, our clients during such difficult times.

We as individuals and as a nation are currently dealing with two contagions: first, the coronavirus outbreak itself, and second, the emotions that come along with it. It has been commonly reported that negative emotions are just as contagious as a virus.

After a barrage of stressful new reports, social media updates, and even likely conversations with people you are close to, you might have felt or are currently feeling fatigued, stressed, or anxious about the risks to ourselves, our families’, and our friends’ health, as well as the financial impact and general turmoil associated with present events.

These feelings weigh on our general feelings of peace, happiness, sense of calm, and fulfillment, among other things, and often also cause many of us to feel particularly lonely.

How do we fight these negative feelings?

As a tool to help combat these feelings, I would like to take this moment to ask you to create space in your life to provide time to practice the “4 essential R’s”: Relationships, Routines, Reflection, and Relaxation.

Relationships

Spending time, even if only virtually, with people we care about is now more important than ever. Whether at work or at home, take moments to continue sharing positive experiences, reminding people how grateful we are to have them in our lives. Especially if your contact with others has been more limited lately, I recommend you use free tools like ZoomFacetime, or Facebook Messenger to have more frequent calls with people you care about, even if only for a few minutes.

Routines

Our routines have been completely disrupted, so much is now in turmoil. But there are little things we can do to restore our sense of control over our lives again, such as building or restoring certain routines within the course of our day. Try scheduling time in your mornings or evenings for your favorite show, reading a good book, or spending time on a hobby you love (even if it’s only a few minutes). These may seem simple but if we’re not intentional it’s these little joys that are often the first to be pushed aside.

Reflection

This is my personal favorite. Taking the time to contemplate the things in your life that you’re thankful for, particularly during uncertain or challenging times, has been shown to have a very clear positive effect on our mental and emotional state. Practices such as journaling, or discussing with others, what you’re grateful for actually makes us happier. Similarly, mindfulness practice, prayer or meditation, even simple breathing exercises improve how we feel almost immediately when we’re not feeling our best.

Relaxation

In addition to getting 7-8 hours of sleep, taking down time is key to our daily healing and restoration process. Make sure you don’t forget to relax, if only for a bit. Be intentional in setting aside time each day to pause, take a few deep breaths, and allow your mind to reset and refocus. We’ll not be able to help others well when our own fight-or-flight modes get triggered due to a lack of rest in combination with other stressors.

We’re Here for You

I encourage you to put these tools into practice, stay safe, and remain strong.

And lastly, please remember, in difficult and stressful times we’re here to help. We exist to enhance the lives of our clients. Supporting your financial, physical, and emotional well-being is our highest priority for each and every one of you.

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Author: Reuben Brauer, CFP®

Reuben is Vice President of Financial Planning and is a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner serving clients in the Denver metro area in Centennial Colorado, in San Rafael, San Francisco, and and Mill Valley in Northern California, and Omaha and Lincoln in Nebraska.