The Mind-Body Stress Connection and An Advisor Success Story

By Dr. Jack Singer

In my previous two articles, I discussed how it’s not events in your life that cause stress, but it’s your interpretation of those events that determines whether you will suffer from stress or not. So, understanding your thinking habits is critical to mastering your stress.

In future articles, I will discuss specific methods of taking charge of your stress- producing thinking patterns, but I want to provide you, here, with information about how such thinking can quickly lead to physical and emotional deterioration and give you an advisor success story.

In each subsequent article, I shall give an advisor success story and an action plan for you to implement and overcome stressors in your job and life.

Anxiety and stress are not only perfectly natural reactions to stressors, but have been built into our DNA since we lived in caves. This physiological (“fight or flight”) nervous system has evolved in order for us to respond to life-threatening emergencies, such as being approached by a predator.

The problem for 21st Century humans is that non-life threatening situations turn on the exact same system. For the financial advisor, it could be a sharp market downturn, a dire economic prediction, the need to prospect for new clients or having to answer a phone call from an angry client. Regardless of the potential stressor, if we interpret the situation in a negative way, we switch on the “fight or flight” nervous system. The system was evolved to switch on for a few minutes at a time in order to help us escape the danger, but most of us switch it on for days and weeks, because of persistent stressors and the negative thinking patterns that result. This impacts the immune system in an unfortunate way and leads directly to the development of acute and chronic illnesses.

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A Financial Advisor Case Study

Deborah loved her job as a financial advisor, but she believed that all of the stress involved in her job was inevitable and went “with the territory.” She suffered from stress whenever the market tanked and even more so when she faced the necessity for prospecting for new clients. It was almost as if a wave of insecurity would wash over her, filling her with the dread of anticipated rejection. Knowing that prospecting for new clients was critical for the success of her practice, she trudged on, but with limited success.

She also felt overwhelmed when her manager piled more paperwork onto her “plate,” yet, she was hesitant to complain.

Deborah began to develop physical symptoms that were debilitating, including:

  • chronic fatigue
  • vague gastro-intestinal and digestive symptoms
  • elevated blood pressure
  • sweaty hands
  • a variety of aches and pains that could not be diagnosed
  • a flare up of her allergies

Because of her physical symptoms and the failure of her doctor to diagnose a cause, she began to worry that she had a severe, underlying disease. As a result of this fear, her anxiety symptoms became worse, and the cycle of mind-body illness began for Deborah.

Deborah’s Solution

Deborah consulted with me for success coaching, but she really feared that she could no longer continue to work in her chosen profession. She believed that because of her symptoms, she was afraid that she would not be able to prospect for new clients and that she couldn’t service her present clients properly. She contemplated referring them to her associates and looking for a different profession.

Deborah learned that her symptoms were actually caused by her worrying and that she could, indeed, control such worrying, by practicing rational thinking techniques (which I will discuss in future articles).

In addition, I advised Deborah to consult with other advisors and ask them how they dealt with the same job stressors and the grind of prospecting for new clients.

Deborah was taught the following buffering/coping skills:

  • Use her physical symptom flare ups to recognize that there must be a stressor which she needs to address;
  • Remain optimistic, regardless of the economy, market conditions and difficulty gaining new clients;

(there are many books available on developing and maintaining optimistic attitudes, despite any stressful situations that arise);

  • Assert herself whenever she is tempted to take on more responsibility from her manager than she can handle at the time and do not feel guilty saying “No.”
  • Practice relaxation techniques and go to a weekly yoga class, regardless of her work load.

After a few weeks, Deborah’s health and attitude made a dramatic recovery. Her physical symptoms melted away and she began to enjoy her job. Deborah is currently a very content and productive advisor.

[Tweet “Take care of your #emotional #health by taking care of your #physicalhealth!”]

Your Action Plan:

You are eleven times more likely to follow up on a goal if you write down information, rather than simply thinking about it, so I strongly encourage you to write down the suggestions listed below and review them regularly.

Take care of your emotional health by taking care of your physical health. Develop and maintain healthy habits, such as:

  • Whenever you feel overwhelmed with worry, recognize that you can control your thinking;
  • Living with some stress is actually beneficial for motivation;
  • Embrace change because change is inevitable and look for ways that change will lead to positive outcomes in your life;
  • List all of the stressors related to your job and next to each stressor write down something positive about how you can take control of it.