November 17, 2020

Self-Care for Personal Finance Experts in Times of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Rashi Bhargava
Personal Finance Expert

Key Takeaways from this 07 minute read:

1. Self-assessment tips to see if the body is showing any red flags.
2. Understanding the concept of self-care.
3. Lifestyle problems pertaining to our job role.
4. My journey of problem assessment and how we can deal with the pandemic crisis
5. Quick tips for self-care and healthy living
6. ACTION PLAN to begin now.

Putting Your Oxygen Mask On Means Taking Care of Yourself

When you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant instructs you “Put your oxygen mask on first, before helping others”. Why is this an important rule for ensuring survival? Its because if you yourself run out of oxygen, you can’t help anyone else with their oxygen mask. Put more simply: If you die, you can’t help anyone else.

This is an important metaphor for those who spend a great deal of their time taking care of others. As Personal Finance professionals/Experts/Advisers/Financial Coaches to clients, our self-care assumes lot of importance. Only when we first help ourselves, can we effectively help others. Caring for yourself is one of the most important—and one of the most often forgotten—things you can do. In shortpeople can’t help others if they have not yet helped themselves first.

One fine day when the above thought struck my mind, I decided to consult a therapist. Apparently, contrary to the initial rapport building days, my dog headed therapist had been persistent with me to incorporate self-care from Day 1 of my sessions.

Self-care is a subject that many Personal Finance professionals/Experts/Advisers/Financial Coaches are not familiar with and an area they may not address in their personal goals or self-growth. It is akin to work-life balance, yet it goes much further in its application and implementation. Today self-care has become my focus and I am armed with a self-care tool kit, which I use on daily basis.

For my fraternity, reading this piece, this one is for you!

Unprecedented times have thrown all of us in different directions; uncertainty is the new normal; businesses have taken a hit; economies all over the world are gasping for breath. Clients are in panic. The path to better communication with clients, leading away from burnout, starts with you.

Remember “time for yourself is a prerequisite, not a reward.” In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, we are working from home where the temptation to work around the clock and being accessible to clients 24*7 is huge.

So, what is self-care and why this is so difficult?

  • Self-care is about strengthening your endurance.
  • It brings resilience as you go about your life, which means it’s more than just relaxing.
  • Self-care is important to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself.
  • It produces positive feelings and boosts your confidence and self-esteem.
  • Also, self-care is necessary to remind yourself and others that you and your needs are important too… It ensures that you stay sharp, motivated, and healthy.

It took me time to understand this. Practicing self-care does not mean you are choosing yourself over your loved one. It means that you are simply being mindful of your own needs, so you are better able to support the people you care about. When you take care of yourself and are not stressed, you are able to meet the needs of others in a better way.

Self-care is difficult because,

* It requires effort. Be it waking up at 5am for meditation or going for a run at 6am.When the going is tough on work or home front, exerting for anything can be a tall order and doesn’t come easily.

* It brings up feelings and not all are good ones — often, feelings of shame or guilt. Self-care to many looks selfish. Being selfish means there’s a desire to take from others to their detriment, whereas self-care is about replenishing your resources without depleting someone else’s.

*Time is a scarce commodity for all of us. We are too busy with our full, very often rich lives, juggling up different roles that we don’t have time to pamper ourselves.

Self-care strategies/practical ways to manage volatile markets and clients 😊

1.Discpline

Even though we are working from home, have a daily routine – opening and closing time for office work. Post work, switch off your gadgets. Don’t carry your laptops/mobile phones/iPad to bed. (Digital detox is good for health and overall wellbeing). Have a designated workspace and time for replying to emails/calls/messages. Set boundaries… The world will not end if you don’t reply/attend to a call for some time. I don’t talk to family, faith comrades and friends during working hours. Daily, I have a 30-minute window for such calls.

Once switched-off from work, use this downtime to recharge your battery with activities you like. During lockdown I have indulged a lot in doodling, making bookmarks and honing my drumming skills.

Communicate your opening and closing time to others, your family, friends, clients and employees. This will help others to know when to contact you and who knows, it may encourage them to follow your self-care strategy.

2.Create white space and theme-based days.

Holding meeting after meeting, attending webinars after webinars or calls after calls can be physically and mentally exhausting. As humans, we are simply not meant to hear sad and angry stories one after another—our minds and bodies will begin to take on that stress and pain. With this burden of vicarious traumatization, as personal finance experts, we will not be able to give the best to our clients, even when we want to.

I follow a theme based weekly schedule. So, Mondays are reserved for customer/operational work. Tuesday is reserved for interacting with vendors, domain partners and network. Wednesday first half is for upskilling and master class. Second half of Wednesday to Friday is meant for client zoom meetings. Meetings are spaced out. I always give a gap of an hour or so between two client meetings. This gives me time to reset and mentally prepare myself for the next meeting. During these breaks I take time to indulge myself, grab a coffee, take a short walk, do heel raises and bit of stretching.

So, not more than 4 zoom meetings in a full working day. Saturday is meant for blogging, voice notes for clients, preparing content for social media and support group study meetings. And Sunday is meant for Faith, Family and Friends.

3. Efficiency

It’s time consuming to reach out to clients individually when it comes to addressing common pain point areas or discussing markets. Best was to save time and energy to hold virtual meeting for all your clients. The one-to-many communication channel can be more time-efficient to deliver the message, and may help to buffer the advisor from some of the client conversations (if clients “just” needed information and can get it from the webinar, it saves what can still turn out in the moment to be a stressful conversation if the client gets an additional opportunity for one-on-one venting).

4. Let it out. 

Aside from time, another important thing to remember is that we are not punching bags! And, we are not invincible. It is okay and normal if we are scared, and it is okay and normal if we are having a difficult time. This is the time to reach out to fraternity members and our support system family and friends. Do not allow yourself to fall into total isolation where the only people you are speaking with are upset clients.

5. Create a work space

Get out of the home office. I find my daily run/walk very therapeutic and it helps me reset myself. A change of scenery can help to ease nerves.

6. Remove Distractions

Minimize news and social media. Just like financial advisors can get stressed from listening to their clients, both clients and advisors can get stressed just by listening to or watching the news over and over again. Clients and advisors need downtime, away from the negative and scary stories. It’s okay to turn off the T.V. Turn off the social media news feed.

Was it easy for me to incorporate Self-care in my daily routine?

No. My therapist loves giving me assignments. One of her assignment to me was to prepare my self-care tool kit. Reflecting on this assignment I asked myself, “How do I care for myself in ways that resets and refills my reservoir to enable me to take care of others”.

Check out my self care tool-kit in the image below.

Having a plan for self-care has helped me in the following ways:

1. Confidence boost: I am more solution oriented and less worrisome.
2. Self-Growth: I find time for self-growth though aptitude building.
3. Productivity: When your self-care you find time for things you weren’t able to take up due to procrastination. I can say my productivity is up by 50% and I can take up double the amount of tasks at hand.
4. Better Sleep: Indulging into things that are long lost in heart & mind brings a sense of calm and composure and that reflected in my everyday health.
5.Better Relationships: My friends and family now turn more to me and this exchange of ideas has led to better relationships.
6.Business Acumen: I have a better sense of business acumen, I found myself more alert, more collaborating and participative then before.

Make a daily commitment to your own well-being and rejuvenation by incorporating at least one self-care strategy using self-care tool kit into your day. I hope this post helps you think more clearly about how you are caring for yourself, your body, and your mind.

What do you do take care of yourself in these times? Share with us in the comments below.

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5 Thoughts to “Self-Care for Personal Finance Experts in Times of the Coronavirus Pandemic”

  1. Avatar Kshitija says:

    Well said Rashi. Self care is ignored aspect for many, with your own examples and routines it helps to think and design one.

    You have shown the way for- How to achieve productivity and efficiency from self care.

    Thanks for the contribution.

  2. Avatar Kshitija Shete says:

    Well said Rashi. Self care is ignored aspect for many, with your own examples and routines it helps to think and design one.

    You have shown the way for- How to achieve productivity and efficiency from self care.

    Thanks for the contribution

  3. Avatar Karthik Kannan says:

    Very well articulated Rashi. We get so engrossed in our work that we hardly give any time for self care.

    I especially liked the digital detox and theme based weekly schedule. Will definitely try to incorporate in my practice.

    One thing this pandemic taught us is the importance of support system. Also, ME time is sacrosanct and is not to be sacrificed at any cost.

    Thanks for this wonderful piece.

  4. Avatar Karthik Kannan says:

    Very well articulated Rashi. We focus too much energy on managing clients that we tend to ignore our own health and self care is not given priority.

    I especially liked the digital detox and theme based weekly schedule. I will definitely try and incorporate it in my practice.

    We tend to ignore the importance of the support system, family and friends but this pandemic has proved how important they are to our mental well being and emotional stability.

    Thanks for this wonderful piece.

  5. Avatar Manish Jain says:

    Spot on, Rashi.

    In the current unusual times, most of us – investors and advisors – are suffering from varying levels of ‘Transition Fatigue’. Some of us realise this and some of us don’t. Self care is a critical aspect, especially for people in our fraternity. The earlier we realise this and work on it, the better we will be able to guide our clients.

    Peter Drucker has rightly said “You cannot manage other people, unless you manage yourself first.”

    Learning the skill of ‘Equanimity’ is something that I am working hard on, apart from other things your post talks about. The pandemic has been a time of immense learning for me, personally. In a weird and selfish way, I’m a little grateful for the ‘pause’ button that nature has given us. Till we get back to the ‘new normal’, which is a couple of years away, your post provides some nice ways to keep upskilling ourselves.

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