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  • Writer's pictureDouglas Pfeifer

Play the Wellness Stock Market

Do you play the stock market? The best advice about playing the volatile market is to diversify your funds. Mutual funds, ETFs, Bonds, real estate or other options to make sure that when the market has a bad day, you don’t lose your shirt. Now I am not an expert in the stock market. I suppose if I was, I might not be writing this blog article as I would be retired right now. But this approach to the stock market is a lesson we can learn in terms of our overall wellness.

The key to wellness and resilience, in my opinion, is to diversify your wellness. Too many times, I meet with clients that are devastated when they lose a relationship and have no sense of identity or stability because they invested all their wellness into that relationship. This is also true when you think about people that are really physically healthy but even though the research says that physical health is great to reduce stress and improve wellness, people are still struggling. Think of the athlete who is thriving in his/her particular sport and finds significant personal value and sense of self but then gets seriously injured which subsequently takes away the sport that is so much of the person’s identity. As a therapist, I often am curious and at times dumbfounded when thinking about actors, athletes, musicians and other successful people that are struggling so much with their mental health.

Whether you have been investing your sense of self and wellness in one stock such as your partner, your career, your leisure activities, your wealth and achievements, you are at high risk for mental health struggles in the future if the stock crashes. When thinking about improving your mental wellness, think variety. We want variety but we also want to pick strong and dependable stocks. When we diversify, we don’t pick just any stock. We want stocks that are reliable and stable. For example, Alcohol will give your brain a nice dopamine boost but it will also create a high risk for life problems due to the volatility of the stock.

Connecting with Others (Common Stock/Growth)- This is similar to traditional stocks as it can be high risk but also high reward. The high reward is what is really key. The key to resilience is relational health. In all resilience research, what is consistent is that those considered resilience were found to have a strong relational support system. Whether that was one person or several. Relationships can also be the source of our pain and struggle and so we often isolate and avoid relationships when the relational “stocks” have plummeted. The key, just like in the stock market, is to focus on quality and reliable relationships. In the stock market, you want to look for companies that have a good track record as a business and have quality of character and values that match up with your interests and values. The same is true in relationships. Look for those that are supportive, reliable and dependable. Look for people that are healthy and stable. Even better, look at those that thrive in an area that you might struggle such as confidence, social skills, work ethic or others. That way, they can also serve to be a role model and support for you in your life. Just like the stock market, relationships can have ruptures. That doesn’t mean you quickly sell the relationship stocks. The long game is key and repair is necessary. Just because there are ruptures, doesn’t mean we have bad friends. Ruptures are normal and common. Repair is the key to our relational success.

Exercise or Movement(Preferred Stock)- Growth stocks are primed for strong growth. So too is exercise or movement. There really is no downside to exercise or movement. We are designed to move and this modern society doesn’t support movement too much these days as we often have sedentary jobs and lifestyles. Movement and exercise is something that also seems to disappear when our mental health deteriorates. Exercise and Movement strengths our ability to be well by building a strong foundation both physically and mentally. The mind and body are connected so if you take care of yourself physically, you will improve your mental health. There are countless research studies that shows the benefits of exercise on our mental health. The best thing about exercise and movement, is it doesn’t depend on others. In relationships, you are dealing with things you can’t control like whether your friend is available to talk when you need them. However, you can always move regardless of what anyone else is doing. To exercise or move, it is not something that has to be overwhelming or seemingly impossible. Walking laps around the house or the neighborhood would be useful. If you get up regularly throughout the day and move, you are supporting your mental health. If you can go outside and move, you are going to see bigger growth. If you try specific and targeted exercise for strength and conditioning, you will experience significant growth. Here is another secret to investing in your wellness. If you exercise or move with a friend or family member, you are creating a powerful investment.

Breath work (Value Stock)-Value stock is often undervalued in the market but still has strong impact on our financial growth. Breathing is the same. Often because we don’t think about breathing, we often forget about how useful it is to help ourselves feel better. Breathing is the key foundational element to our health. Breathing impacts our physical and mental health. Breathing is impacted when we feel threatened by increasing the pace as well as depth of our breaths. During high perceived stress, our breaths are fast and shallow. This communicates to our nervous system and brain that we are in danger. However, when we breath deep and slow, we communicate to our nervous system that we are safe. In therapy, I teach my clients breathing techniques that yields a nice relaxed state. The key however, is whether they use these techniques outside the session and often. The more they breath slow and deep, the healthier their mind and body will be. Breathing doesn’t get the press but it is probably are most important tool in our tool box.

Use of humor (Income stock)-Often when we are stressed and overwhelmed, our thinking brain shuts down which leads to irrational and self-defeating types of behavior. Value stocks are often undervalued by the market but are actually strong investments. So is the use of humor. You can’t be upset and truly laugh at the same time. Laughter will positively change your internal state from negative to positive. The other key is that humor requires our thinking brain because we have to get the joke. So, it activates our rational and thinking brain which is helpful in getting us out of fight, flight or freeze states. Typically, we are not laughing when chased by a tiger. So, if we are laughing, our nervous system then realizes we are not in danger. Just like the income stock, it provides great dividends and so it is a nice reliable way to fill your reward cup. If you can find humor in your relationships, that will yield significant growth.

Having a diverse portfolio allows for us to manage the ebbs and flows of life. For example, there was family crisis recently in my life that disrupted my routine. For about a week or two, my exercise routine was a struggle but I was able to lean on my relational resources and use humor to keep my mood stable. A good start for wellness is investing in a diverse portfolio. A2R Counseling and Consulting is a resource to help you build your portfolio.

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