As I’ve listened to and counseled some of the best financial professionals in the country over the last few weeks, one theme emerges: fear. Health-related fears. Financial fears. Fears about the future of our country. Fears about the uncertainty shrouding the world. There’s no shame in being scared, but fear becomes problematic when it paralyzes us or stands in our way. To help us all overcome these fears, please consider the following tips:

  • Learn from it - Some amount of fear and stress is beneficial. Fear, in moderate doses, can instruct us to better prepare for an uncertain future. Learn the lessons of fear, make appropriate adjustments, and then move on.
  • Face it - The paradox of fear is that to overcome it, you must confront it. Avoiding fearful conversations or feelings can give them more power than they actually have, which is why 90% of those with specific phobias are cured by facing their fears.
  • Fake it -There’s good science to the adage, “fake it till you make it.” We typically assume our behaviors are a result of our thoughts, but research has shown actions drive feelings as much as feelings drive action. Now is the perfect time to exercise, get dressed, take a shower, and go about your normal routine, no matter how difficult it may feel.
  • Make it meaningful - Crisis tends to bring out both the best and worst in human nature. Just as surely as there is fear, there are more opportunities for service than ever before. Making hardship meaningful is a time-tested way to transform suffering into something more palatable. Support a local restaurant, buy groceries for a neighbor, or write a letter to the medical professionals on the front lines; all of which will have the effect of turning fear on its head.
  • Connect - Oxytocin, a chemical released when we connect with those we love, has been shown to reduce fear. Social distancing may have changed the way we connect, but it is more important than ever to maintain strong relational ties. Find creative ways to connect with those you love, like via video chat, letters, or a quick phone call.
  • Take care of yourself - The connection between body and mind is powerful and underappreciated. Excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption can amplify fear responses, whereas exercise and adequate sleep tamp down stressful reactions. Your mind will only be as calm as your body allows.
In these frightening times, mental health care is every bit as important as washing your hands and maintaining appropriate social distance. We at Brinker Capital hope the tips above will help you manage whatever comes next.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Brinker Capital, a registered investment advisor.

Tagged: Behavioral Finance, Dr. Daniel Crosby, COVID-19, fear