Put your Oxygen Mask-Self-Care for Personal Finance Experts in Times of Coronavirus PandemicRashi Bhargava
Putting Your Oxygen Mask on Means Taking Care of Yourself
This is an important metaphor for those who spend a great deal of their time taking care of others.
When you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant instructs you to “put your oxygen mask on first,” before helping others. Why is this an important rule for ensuring survival? Because if you run out of oxygen yourself, you can’t help anyone else with their oxygen mask. Or put more simply: if you die, you can’t help anyone else.
As Personal Finance Experts/Advisers/Financial Coaches to clients Self Care assumes a lot of importance. Only when we first help ourselves can we effectively help others. Caring for yourself is one of the most important—and often one of the most forgotten—things you can do.
Self-care is a topic that many Personal Finance 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.
For my fraternity reading this piece, this one’s 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, 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 is this so difficult?
Self-care is strengthening your endurance and resiliency 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 as 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. … 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 ones. 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 better able to meet the needs of others.
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 in the new normal, we 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 designated workspace and time for replying to emails/calls/messages. Set boundaries. The world will not end if you don’t reply/attend calls 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 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’s first half is for upskilling and master class. Second half of Wednesday to Friday are 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 a 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. Be Virtually Fluent. Its time consuming to reach out to clients individually when it comes to addressing common pain point areas or discussing markets. Best way to save time and energy will be 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 to let it out).
4.Let it out. Aside from time, another important thing to remember is that we are not punching bag! And 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.Get out of the home office. My daily run/walk I find very therapeutic and help me reset myself. A change of scenery can help to ease nerves.
6.Minimise news and social media. Just like financial advisors can take on stress from listening to their clients, both clients and advisors can take on stress 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. When my therapist gave me a task to prepare my self-care tool kit. Reflecting on this 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”.
Sharing my self-care tool kit
1.Doodling sketch book, fine tip black pens-I make it a point to doodle every day for 10-15 minutes. It has a calming effect.
2.Lego kit-When I am stressed out, I love creating stuff from Lego. It requires immense concentration and focus. One wrong piece and your structure will be stuck.
3.Noise cancellation headphones-I have state of art Sony WH-1000X M3 noise cancelling headphones which I put on when I want to cut off noises, even if it is family members who sometimes do turn nosy. Word of caution, they are best in business. Avoid wearing them on runs/walks. It really cuts outside noises.
4.Favourite playlist on Spotify, Ganna, Amazon Prime Music
5.Diary and Pen. I love writing. Writing is therapeutic.
6.Calming scents for Relaxation.
7.Google keep and Pocket – to pin my ideas and articles I have come across
8.Books-My mini library boasts of 3000 plus books. From literature to travelogues to science fiction to self-development, Archies and Tintin my library has it all.
With all the gadgets and social media our attention spans have been getting shorter and shorter. I love reading books but face huge challenges in terms of focus as the mind is always distracted. Recently in a bootcamp rebuild focus I have learnt to build focus and read with Pomodoro technique. I set a 25-minute timer and just focus on my reading for the next 25 minutes. Post that take a 5-minute break. Repeat this at least 4 times.
This technique can be used for other tasks too. It helps eliminate burnout, manage distractions, and create a better work–life balance.
9. I have a 6-day fitness schedule for my walk/run and strength training. Taking care of the body helps in relieving stress.
10.My therapist introduced me to Headspace meditation app and Loving kindness meditation. Meditation has helped me calmed my mind, made me more observant of my thoughts and emotions. Just like our muscles need physical workout, mental muscles too need a workout and meditation is workout for mental muscles.
Make a daily commitment to your own well-being by incorporating at least one self-care strategy using a self-care tool kit into your day. I hope my self-care kit intrigued you to think more clearly about how you are caring for yourself, your body, and your mind.
As a Personal Finance Expert Practicing self-care has brought me numerous benefits, especially on the work front. With clarity and sharp focus, I have been able to innovate my service offerings(rolling out audio notes to clients),support group mentoring, write more which I had long forgotten in day to day life’s challenges…this piece being one of those.
Today Self-care is the new empowerment, a new discipline. It’s what you do every day, every week, month in and month out. Self-care is about making a commitment to stay healthy and balanced.