This article originally appeared on Inspired Investor on November 9, 2020.
Canada’s current reality might have you more than a little on edge. Between the pandemic and uncertain global economic conditions, many Canadians now feel like they have adrenalin coursing through their veins 24/7. It could be a recipe for fatigue, burnout, anxiety, and unfocused decision-making — which is never a good mix for an investor.
Here are seven tips to help slow down racing thoughts and calm your nerves, so you can focus on what really matters to you.
1. Be a little more “Stoic”
Ancient Stoic philosophers believed that life is less about what happens and more about how you respond — and one of their basic principles is that you shouldn’t spend too much time worrying about things you can’t control. Stoic philosopher and Emperor Marcus Aurelius famously said he could “choose not to be harmed.” That might sound a little glib in the context of so much upheaval; so instead try spending some time thinking about how you can channel any frustration into actionable goals — in other words, the things that can be changed. Can you help ease a burden for someone in your community? Can you involve yourself in a local campaign that feels like positive change? Or can you simply do something nice for someone else who might be feeling defeated right now?
2. Stop “doomscrolling”
At a time of great uncertainty, you might feel like constantly refreshing your social media or news feeds will help you find whatever answers you’re looking for. But this kind of frantic activity — deemed “doomscrolling” — may actually end up increasing anxiety. So relax your thumbs, step away from the screen and only check for updates during occasional, set intervals.
3. Build better habits
What do you do with your hands if they’re not doomscrolling? One easy answer: reach for a book. It can be a paper book, an e-book, or even an audiobook. What’s important is that you occupy your mind with what you have pre-determined as worthy subject matter, instead of letting the internet lead your down the rabbit hole of its algorithmic choice. Want to learn more about the French Revolution? The human microbiome? Cooking? Investing strategies? Or maybe you’re looking for a good laugh. There are countless books to feed your interests.
4. Practice self-care by exercising self-control
“Self-care” has become a ubiquitous term that conjures up images of languid yoga sessions, lying in a bubble bath for hours, or melting cheese over every edible thing in the house. In practicing self-care, however, don’t neglect self-control. Before you decide to bury your anxiety in binge-watching the latest reality TV hit, conscientiously prioritize the commitments that actually make your life function more smoothly. That way, you won’t compound any anxiety with the guilt or shame of evading responsibilities.
5. Practice “tend and befriend”
When you’re overwhelmed and not at your best, there may be an understandable temptation to wall yourself off. But that instinct may not make you feel better. Instead, try to “tend and befriend” by turning to your social contacts for mutual support — the issues of the day likely impact them too. There are plenty of ways to practice this, including taking a walk with a good friend, calling a sibling you haven’t spoken to for a while, or setting aside time to catch up with your partner or spouse.
6. Seek out even a small slice of nature
At a time when Canadians are regularly encouraged to stay distanced, now may be a good time to take advantage of the healing power of the natural world. Weather permitting, get outside and take in the sights, whether it’s a nearby frosted forest or a lone evergreen in the city. If you can, keep your phone out of your hands; you may even feel calmer and breathe easier.
7. Keep it simple
The first thing many people forget when they’re stressed: Take care of your body. That is, eat nutritious meals throughout the day, do some form of exercise, drink water, and get enough sleep. (Get science-based ideas for investors in How to Sleep, Move and Eat Your Way to Savvier Decisions.) These simple acts won’t change the world, but they may help ensure you’ll be better equipped for whatever life throws your way.
This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.