If you’re like most people, you’ve probably been battling fear and anxiety as you watch the market plunge. It’s easy to talk about being “in it for the long term” when all the numbers in your account are increasing. However, when the markets shift many people experience a dramatic shift in emotions as well. The fears come rushing in... “What if it doesn’t come back up?” or “Is it smart to leave things as is?” or “Will I be ok?” It’s normal for the market to have highs and lows, but managing your emotions in the midst of it can be difficult.
Here are a few tips to help keep your emotions from following the variability when the stock market is up and down.
What exactly does that mean? Well at its core, mindfulness is really about staying grounded. It’s about being in this very moment. It’s about noticing what is happening in this NOW and not getting consumed about the future and the “what ifs.” Staying mindful says “I’m feeling fear of the future but right now in this moment I’m ok.”
Mindfulness also is about being nonjudgmental. Instead of judging your feelings – “I shouldn’t feel this” or “I’m going to talk myself out of it” – acknowledge your feelings and don’t fight them. It takes more energy to fight what you are feeling, and ultimately makes you more susceptible to the fear because you are exhausted. Acknowledge the feelings. Accept the feelings. Remind yourself that you are not alone and that others are feeling similar things. Notice that you are ok, right now, in this moment.
Focus on the Positive
I always say, what you focus on grows. When you focus on positive things you then become more aware of positive things. So do something you love. Go outside. Play with a puppy. Call a friend. Have a cup of tea. Light a candle. Cook a meal. Do the things that engage you with the reality that you are surrounded by love and positivity.
Do something that makes you feel strong. When difficult things come along we have a tendency to hide – to get into bed and pull the covers over our head – waiting for the scary things to pass. The problem with this is it reminds us that there’s a big scary thing out there and it tells us that we are weak. The best thing you can do is to get in touch with the FACT that you are strong and brave. Do something that reminds you of that: Go for a run. Take a kick-boxing class. Crush your to-do list. Have a loud dance party. Deep clean your house. Reminisce about a time when you did a kick-ass something that made you proud. Focusing on feeling strong and brave will remind you that you are not at the mercy of the boogie man.
Reflect on what you do have. What have you been able to do in life that is amazing? What do you have that you love? Who is in your life that brings joy? What have you learned to do that surprises you? Gratitude focuses us on what we have rather than what we don’t have or might not get. It also tends to keep us focused on the long arch of our story. All the research shows that happiness is a skill, it’s not contingent on things, and it's not about whether we are getting what we want right now. The 'happiness skill' is all about choosing to find joy – in the good times, in the hard times and in all the in-between times. When we focus on what we have, we often realize that we don’t really need much else in order to really be happy.
Take a deep breath
If history is any indicator, the market will come back up, but in the meantime…be mindful, positive, powerful, and grateful. Remember that you will be ok.
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