10 Remarkable Stress Facts that Every Advisor Should Know: Part 2

By Dr. Jack Singer

In my last blog (Part 1.) I discussed the first 5 remarkable stress facts that every advisor should be aware of:

  1. Your Personality Dynamics Can Make You More Prone to Stress
  2. Even Small Amounts of Chronic Stress Can Affect Your Health in a Negative Way
  3. You Do Not Need to Eliminate All Stress to be Happy and Healthy
  4. Understanding the Triggers to Your Stress is the First Step in Keeping You From Falling Prey to Stress Reactions
  5. You Can Stop Your Stress Reactions at Warp Speed!

Being aware of these facts can help you to make rational plans to pro-actively prevent or mitigate the effects of stress on you and your advising career.

Here are 5 additional facts that may surprise you about stress.

6. Your Thoughts Alone Can Bring on a Variety of Illnesses and Symptoms

Many years ago the American Medical Association (AMA) was interested in surveying its members (particularly internal medicine and primary care practitioners) about the percentage of patients they estimated appeared at their practices without a medical illness. That’s correct…without a medical illness.

Certainly, everyone who shows up at their doctor’s office has symptoms they are concerned about or from which they want to get relief. But, it may surprise you to know, a very large percentage of these people do not have a disease. Instead, they have symptoms caused by stress and, as I explained in Part 1., the stress is caused by the patient’s thinking patterns in response to situations they worry or are upset about.

The AMA survey showed that most of the doctors responding estimated that as many as 75% of their patients had symptoms which were related to their stress, not to a disease. Perhaps you’ve heard about “psychosomatic illnesses.” These are the conditions caused at least in part by stress, so you can ultimately determine whether you get those conditions or not.

7. Stress Can Age You Prematurely in Many Ways

I conduct “Mental Wealth” workshops for financial advisor client appreciation events and the title of these workshops is “How to Live Much Longer Than Your Kids Hoped You Would.” I titled these workshops to get a laugh, but living longer and healthier is serious business, and it’s all about learning how you can control your stress.

Unabated, stress speeds up wear and tear on many areas of your body. A few years ago, the American Psychological Association produced a report of research findings pointing to the fact that stress may have more to do with longevity than a person’s actual chronological age. In particular, chronic stress can impact cognitive impairment in aging, and this impairment can be reversed by reducing stress. So, again, the degree to which you age, in a large part, is up to you and what you do about preventing and eliminating the stressors in your life!

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8. YOU Can Prevent a Significant Amount of Stress From Occurring in Your Life

In addition to understanding how your interpretation of events and your thoughts related to them determines how much stress will result, you can actually buffer yourself from stress. We all know that a healthy diet and regular exercise go a long way toward building resilience. Research now shows that having a strong support system of family and at least a few close friends also can buffer you from stress.

Random acts of kindness, such as paying for a meal for a homeless person, also buffers us from the ravages of stress. Having faith in a higher power, prayer, thanking a mentor from the past, and maintaining a journal of what you are grateful for each day are other examples of research-based ways in which you can build a psychological layer of protection.

9. Some “Stress Relief” Habits Actually Cause More Stress

Many unfortunate habits that we tend to develop to try to cope with stress actually exacerbate it. Smoking, drinking, using marijuana and other drugs to dull the impact of stress never solve the problem; these coping mechanisms only make us oblivious to the sources of our stress. Moreover, the addictions we develop as a result take over, causing much more stress, in terms of our relationships, etc. So quick fixes by “medicating” oneself with cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana and the like not only avoid the causes and add an additional layer of impairment.

10. Visualize Your Stress Leaving You and It Could Very Well Work

I have been teaching elite athletes how to visualize success in their chosen sports for more than 33 years. Practicing visualization has been proven to condition your brain to help you to actually make that skill or outcome much more likely.

I have been truly amazed at how powerful the science of Hypnosis is, and I used hypnosis to not only help people to accomplish what they thought was impossible but to also eradicate stress. Hypnosis employs visualization. Someone once said, “If you can conceive it, you can believe it, and if you can believe it, you can achieve it.” All of this involves visualizing something happening that will help you and your body.

Other examples of visualization techniques are guided imagery, meditation, yoga, and mindfulness exercises. As in hypnosis, these techniques involve focusing your concentration, blocking out stress, and visualizing happiness and peacefulness.

The key takeaway from this series is that YOU actually have the power to mitigate the stress in your life. In my book, “The Financial Advisor’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide” I describe more than 75 proven techniques for building resilience to stress. Pick a handful of these techniques, begin to use them, and watch for wonderful results. The choice is yours.