I'm Stephanie Sammons, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and the Founder of Sammons Wealth Management. I help successful women professionals who are in midlife plan for their ideal retirement. Learn more about planning, saving, and investing for your ideal retirement at Sammons Wealth Management.

Show Notes for this Episode

It’s hard to stay positive during difficult times, like in the midst of a global pandemic that has completely changed life as we know it! We go through stages of a mindset shift when we are shell-shocked or faced with a new reality. In this episode, I share these stages with you so that you can determine where you are and what’s next.

Also, I share 8 ways to keep a positive mindset during tough times. These are 8 practices that I have personally implemented to better deal with the challenges of this particular time period. I hope these 8 tips can also help you!

In this episode of the Midlife Money Gal Podcast, you will learn:

  • Where you are in the stages of mindset shifts through a downturn and what follows
  • How positivity affects everything about your life
  • 8 tips and simple practices for keeping a positive mindset

Links mentioned in this show:

The Endless Practice – Becoming Who You Were Born to Be by Mark Nepo

The Psychology of Downturns by James Currier

The Calm App

The Headspace App

Other Related Posts to check out:

You are Never Stuck

9 Tips to Stay Sane While Working from Home

3 Truths That Can Change Your Life for the Better

Check out the video version of this podcast on the Midlife Money Gal YouTube Channel:

Listen and subscribe to the podcast in your favorite podcasting app: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts

If you enjoy the Retirement Money Gal Podcast, I would love to see your feedback! Leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts to help other women like us find the podcast! Leave a Rating and Review on Apple Podcasts

Join the Women Retire Smart™ Community

The Women Retire Smart™ Community is a virtual community and email newsletter for women professionals within 5 to 15 years of retirement who want to retire smart, secure, and happy!

(00:04): [Inaudible]. Welcome to the midlife money girl podcast.

(00:08): I'm Stephanie Sammons, an experienced certified financial planner helping women professionals navigate midlife and money. Are you struggling to keep a positive mental attitude during this difficult time? Are you feeling stressed out and anxious and maybe even overwhelmed? Are you finding yourself grieving a little bit during this time? Well, you're not alone. I think we are all struggling right now to stay hopeful and stay in a positive frame of mind. And it's tough to do when we have everything going on around us that creates fear and stress and uncertainty. So for this episode of the midlife money gal podcast, I wanted to talk about some helpful ways to keep a positive mindset in tough times. Like we are enduring right now.

(01:33): You know, one of the things that make this time period so difficult is the uncertainty. And as human beings, we absolutely hate uncertainty. We want answers and we want to know exactly what to expect and how things are going to unfold. And the reality is we just don't have the answers right now. So we're kind of sitting in this space of uncertainty. And that can make life a little bit difficult and it can make it tough to stay positive. So how can we adjust to this new reality in order to keep fear at Bay and have more hope and more optimism?

(02:39): The first thing I wanted to share with you is something that I came across from a friend of mine who is a business coach. He actually coaches financial advisors. His name is Steve Sanduski and in his latest newsletter he included a really interesting process, but that's the kind of a psychological process that you go through during a downturn or a difficult time and he discovered this from someone who is a managing director of a venture capital firm and this person put this process together for founders of companies. And so I think this same process of going through the mental shifts of a downturn is also applicable to women professionals just like you, whether you're a business owner or you're a manager or an executive or an employee, whatever. You own your own law firm, you're a physician. We all go through this process and it's going to be familiar to you. As I go through the stages and I just want to briefly touch on the stages because

(04:16): This actual model is a little bit different than the one you might be familiar with going through kind of a grieving process. So it will sound familiar to you, but he's made a few adjustments in here. So how do we adjust to this new reality? Keep fear at Bay and have more hope and optimism and starting where you are is a really great first step. And I want to go through these stages so you can figure out where you might be. So I want to do this quickly before I give you some actionable tips to help you keep a positive mindset during a tough time.

(05:04): Okay,

(05:05): So the process of this model, the psychology of mental shifts that you go through in a downturn, it starts with denial and then it moves to anger, bargaining, depression, or I like to call that sadness as well. Acceptance and then creativity. And it's kind of an emotional roller coaster as we go through these stages. And each of us is at a different stage, most likely at this point. So I would like you to figure out once I read these to you where you think you are on this chart and then I'll tell you where I am. But the point is you have to start where you are in knowing where you are, can give you a good frame of reference for what's and how to move forward. The first stage is denial. And that's where we say, Oh, this isn't, this isn't so bad. You know, we've seen this before.

(06:09): It didn't really get out of hand. It didn't really affect us in the United States. There's not a lot to worry about. I don't know about you, but I was definitely there in that place in the beginning. The second stage, anger, why wasn't this prevented? How did we not see it coming? Why weren't we more prepared? Am I at risk or are the people I love at risk or have I put others at risk or have they put me at risk? I'm just furious that this thing has just taken a hold of our country and our people and changed our way of life over nine. So that's kind of the anger stage. I could go on and on, but chances are you've been there, you might still be there. I fortunately have moved on from the anger stage, but it's a tough one to move past.

(07:17): Then the next stage is the bargaining stage and that's where you say, well, you know, maybe this will pass sooner than later and I can definitely make it through for a month or six weeks of having this drastic life change of sheltering in place. Kids home from school, working remotely. I can handle that for a while, but there's no way that summer and fall will be canceled. Life as we know it will not be canceled. My summer plans will still happen. I'm still hopeful they'll happen. And that's kind of the bargaining phase where you're, you're, you're kind of moving toward acceptance but you're making some, you're having some bargaining thinking going on there and maybe not fully accepting. The next stage is sadness and or depression. And this is where we really start feeling it. We are really getting used to the reality of the situation that we're in.

(08:36): And we start saying to ourselves, you know this, gosh, this is real. I mean, this is getting worse, way worse before it's getting better. In fact, I don't even see the horizon for when this might turn around. This is such a bomber. It's super scary. It's totally depressing and I'm feeling kind of hopeless here. I mean, somebody give me some hope or I'm just going to crater. That's the sadness or the depression phase. The acceptance phase comes after you really hit bottom from being sad about it and the acceptance phase is where you're saying, well, this has happened. I can't change the past. There's nothing I can do about it other than what I'm already doing to protect myself, to protect others, to continue working, to continue plowing forward, but this is the reality of, of where we are now. Life as we know it has changed. Will it also change in the future? Probably many people have died. That is the reality. This illness is scary and unpredictable and that is truth as of today. That's the acceptance phase,

(10:12): Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. And then this person is very smart person has added an additional phase called creativity, which I love and this is where your mind turns to creatively constructing new ways forward. This is where you really start to think about, huh, okay, I realized the future is going to be different. Like things are really going to change and they may change for good. These changes may really stick in our society. So how will I operate going forward with my life, all areas, you know, what changes do I need to make in my lifestyle and my career with my finances? How can I emerge from this stronger, healthier, mentally and physically? How will I make sure that I am economically viable, employable and you really start to shift your mentality. How can I thrive no matter what things look like once we get through this initial phase of devastation and fear and uncertainty.

(11:39): So those are the stages. And I would say that where I am is in pretty much full acceptance now. I tend to go through the denial, anger, bargaining fairly quickly. I got there in pretty quick amount of time. I S I was stuck in denial for a while, honestly. And now I feel like I have fully accepted this, that this is our reality and I'm beginning to shift my mind toward the future and becoming creative and really thinking about things like my business as a financial advisor and as a financial coach through this, this podcast and in programs I might roll out in the future for women who are in midlife, women professionals. I'm starting to think creatively about how can I serve others, how can I take better care of my clients and my financial planning practice and how can I provide more education and resources to many more women out there.

(12:51): And I'm kind of getting excited about it. So I would challenge you to figure out where you are in this process, in this psychological process of mental shifts in a downturn and see how you can work through the remaining stages. I'm not saying rush through them. I'm just saying now you know what's coming and what you still need to go through to get to the other side, to where you are in a good mind frame of mind in, in a good place to place emotionally to start thriving and moving forward when we come out of this. So I thought that was a really interesting model and a good piece of research that I wanted to share with you.

(13:49): You know, understanding this simple idea, that positivity, thinking positive actually creates energy for us. And if you can come out of this entire challenge in a position of strength versus being exhausted and worn out from the stress and the anxiety and the overwhelm, then you're going to be so much stronger. But you need energy to do that. And energy comes from creating a positive mindset or being able to tap into that positive mindset. When you're in a negative place and you're down in the dumps or you find yourself in a negative loop that you just can't get out of energy also comes from focusing on your health and nutrition. It's one thing to will our minds to be more positive and create more energy that way. But it's another thing if you're, if your mind is foggy and you're tired and you don't feel great and your body is tired and you're eating unhealthy and you're falling into some bad habits during this time, that's going to hurt you as you emerge from this crisis. So I'm a big believer on starting with the positive mindset and then you can start working on, okay, how do I make myself feel better mentally and physically so you can contribute and create more energy in the process.

(15:42): So I have come up with eight ways to keep a positive mindset in tough times and every single one of these items, these are things that I do personally. And I did some research on this and I looked around online and I went to some of my trusted sources to kind of see what was out there. And I found a few things here and there, but ultimately I came back mainly to these practices that I have put into place. And admittedly there were several weeks in the last month or call it month in maybe five, six weeks, the last six weeks. This is about when this really started hitting home for us in, in the United States. There were a couple of weeks where I was just blah, you know, no motivation down in the dumps, in a fog kind of shell shocked. I had gone from being really optimistic and hopeful to the reality hitting and hitting that kind of that bargaining stage and that sadness stage before I finally started to say, you know, Steph, you've got to figure out how to get your, your game back, you know, and figure out how to get your mind in the right place.

(17:16): Again, you know what to do, but you've got to start doing it. And so that's what I did. And even some of these things I didn't feel like doing, but I did them anyway and I continue to do them and practice them because they are working and it's helping me tremendously. So my hope is that by sharing these tips with you that it will also help you cultivate a positive mindset. Number one, take three deep breaths at a time, multiple times per day, and I recommend you breathe in through your nose

(17:59): [Inaudible]

(17:59): And breathe out through your mouth.

(18:03): [Inaudible]

(18:03): Three deep breaths. This will calm you down first of all

(18:11): And it will give you a little bit of space, especially if you're feeling anxious or stressed. Just give you a little bit of the time. Three breaths isn't a very long time period, but it, it's amazing how it can just reset your, your mind very quickly. Three deep breaths, multiple times per day. Number two, checkout or utilize applications and I'm talking mobile phone apps for your iPhone or any other kind of phone mobile device that you use. Could be an iPad as well. There are two apps that I really like. One is called calm and one is called Headspace. And each of these apps provides, they're a little bit different but each app provides short guided talks, meditations, breathing exercises, kind of a variety of content there that you can choose from. And the areas of content are also focused on certain things like sleep, stress reduction, positive attitude, breathing, calming yourself down.

(19:38): Excetera variety of feelings and situations are covered on these apps. And I'll put a link in the show notes to the the iPhone version of these applications. But I also like to listen to some kind of motivational session from the calm app or the Headspace app when I wake up in the morning and also when I go to bed at night. So I had kind of gotten into this habit of throwing on a podcast, a business oriented podcast at nighttime before any of this hit when I would go to bed. And I found that it made me restless and I couldn't fall asleep or I woke up a lot. And so I don't recommend turning your brain on and getting yourself thinking or stressed out at night when you're going to bed. Something from the calm or Headspace app can really help calm you down, obviously the name and help you sleep better.

(20:44): So just something to think about. Also if you start morning with a something motivational from either one of these apps that can help set your day on a positive path. Number three, read or watch, positive or inspirational material. So one of the things I did was I picked up a book that I hadn't touched in forever and I'm talking probably couple of years and it's a book called the endless practice by Mark Nepo becoming who you were born to be, the endless practice. I'll put a link in the show notes to this as well, and you can find the show notes at midlife money gal Poe, midlife money, gal.com forward slash 46 just the number 46 for this episode. But it was kind of funny because ironically when I opened up this book and they're just short readings, I opened up to a reading about facing difficulties in life and I was like, well, how appropriate is that?

(21:55): And just reading that little section of the book really helped me. It created this subtle shift in my mentality and it helped so much. I just can't say enough about it. It doesn't have to be that book. It can be any book, any book that has positive, you know, emotionally stimulating readings and passages that can help you reset your mind. Another thing we did was we decided to watch the movie call of the wild with our kids the other night and it was really a pretty light movie. It was really good. And for that kind of movie, you know, and I remember reading this book years ago when I was young and so it was such a refreshing change to watch something that was just easy, easy to get through a good story. And instead of watching something dark or stressful, and I'll tell you, I love Ozark, totally hooked on that.

(23:14): It's on Netflix and little fires everywhere. That is a new show with Reese Witherspoon. It's out on Hulu, but both of those shows are kind of dark, create a little bit of anxiety and stress. And so you just need to be careful about what you're feeding into your brain that will make you feel heavy or stressed or down. And really try to balance that out, especially at, okay, number four, carve out some alone and thinking time. It's hard to think when everybody's home and in the house and there's always noise and chaos and stuff going on. It's really hard to get by yourself during these times. Because we are all sheltering in place or most of us are. How can you carve out some alone time where you can just think and decompress? When you can quiet your mind, then you can really talk to yourself and give yourself a pep talk, talk yourself into a more positive attitude and positive mindset and you have to kind of, I feel, have some introvert time to do that.

(24:49): So I like to do that first thing in the morning. I'll come up to my home office. I have a couch or a sofa in here. I will sit there and I will just sip on my coffee and think quietly for a few minutes. And this is another way I've been able to kind of talk myself off the ledge and into a good Headspace. And it's just as simple as saying, Steph, you can do this. Everything's going to be fine. You've got to have faith, keep the faith and go out there and be positive so that you can influence other people and help them to stay positive. So on and so forth. You've got your own messaging that you say to yourself, but that's what I was saying to myself. Another great way to do this is just to go on a walk and go by yourself and don't have your headphones in your ears or a podcast or anything playing, but try to just walk in silence for at least part of your journey and think, give yourself a pep talk.

(26:00): That's number four. Number five, total opposite of that. Connect with others. And I really like zoom. I know there's some controversy around zoom as an application that there's some security issues, but they have beef that up quite a bit. And I think it's the easiest. I've tried several different other applications and you've got to install things and they're clunky. So I'm still a fan of zoom and connect with three groups. Your family. Just did a call with my family last night. We had my sister, my mom and dad, my niece, and of course everybody picked up their dogs and and showed their dogs on the zoom call so that we could see each other's pets. My nephew has a humongous, gigantic gray dog. I forget what kind it is. Maybe a Weimer Riner named Tucker, but he is the cutest thing, but obviously you can't pick him up.

(27:03): He's like 90 pounds or something like that, but we had such a great time as a family, laughing and reconnecting. My niece has a brand new baby girl. She's four months old and then her son is eight years old and so it was great to see the kids. I have not seen that baby since soon after, probably since January, maybe February, early February and I'm just dying to see her. They only live 30 minutes away, but we're trying to stay safe, so it was great to see the whole family. The other group is friends. I've had a K and I actually together have had a number of happy hours, zoom calls with friends over the last six weeks. That's been fun and I've also had a zoom brainstorming session with a couple of friends. One of my friends was recently let go from her job, so the three of us got together.

(28:06): We usually go to dinner together once every other month or so and we decided let's do a zoom session and of course it was accompanied by a cocktail and let's brainstorm and see what we can come up with for, to help our friend with new introductions and virtual networking and, and see how we could get her help get her name out there. The third group is your peers, people who work in your same industry, in your same field. And I've done that as well. I have a mastermind group of other solo women financial advisors out there across the country. There are four of us total and we jumped on a mastermind session. I think I've mentioned this in a prior episode and we talked about the economy and markets and how we could better serve our clients during this difficult time, so that was great as well.

(29:05): Now I'm not saying you should have a whole bunch of zoom calls with cocktails. That is not a requirement and in fact I'm going to recommend minimizing alcohol to the extent that you can hear in just a minute. But number five is connect with family, friends and peers that will help you keep your sanity. It will help you laugh and smile and feel more normal again. It's really, really great. Number six, have gratitude. It sounds cliche, but it really is something to practice and especially now. Boy, have we been reminded of this to be grateful for what we have because literally life as we have known it has completely changed. It's been appended and there's so many things we have taken for granted that we can't do right now, but this is temporary and we will come out of this on the other side. And sure life might be different in some ways, but what can you now look around and be grateful for?

(30:32): Maybe it's your health, maybe it's your family, maybe it's getting to spend more time with your kids and you know, I know that's hard to not having your, your kids not having their normal schedule and routine that can be stressful for them, stressful for the parents. But the point is there is a lot that we have to be grateful for and we need to keep remembering that what really matters in life and we need to cherish that and be thankful for it. At least in my opinion, that's how I feel about it. I'm trying to remember to have gratitude for everything that I possibly can. Tip number seven, sleep, get a good night's rest. I don't know about you, but I have had a lot of trouble sleeping well over the last six weeks and I'm sure it's a result of just subconscious worry in the back of my mind, just sort of working itself out while I'm sleeping.

(31:42): I've also noticed that I've been staying up way too late. I'm normally someone who turns into a pumpkin at 10 o'clock at night and I've been going to bed at like 12 and one in the morning and the problem is sugar bear much hawala whom you might be able to hear her snoring. Right now she's on the sofa in my office, just sawing logs. She gets up at the crack of Dawn no matter what. No matter how early I go to bed, no matter how late she's scratching on the side of my bed, demanding to be taken outside, number one and number two to have her bowl filled with food. And I don't know if you know chihuahuas, she's a very cute, sweet, but kind of aggressive Chihuahua type a, but she's very well socialized. I've had her in doggie daycare for since she was itty-bitty.

(32:44): And so she's a friendly Chihuahua. She likes people. But she's a pain in the, you know, what, some times and first thing in the morning you know, before 7:00 AM when I've stayed up until one that's just not cutting it. I need a good eight hours of sleep every night to be functioning at my highest and best level. So a couple of things here, you know, turn off any of your devices or don't look at your devices right before bedtime. Give yourself at least a half hour, ideally an hour. If you can put that stuff down. It really does stimulate your brain and keep you awake longer. I also don't like to have a TV on in the bedroom. We have a TV in our bedroom, but I'm kind of a stickler about shutting that thing off. I don't want it blaring when I'm sleeping and have that messaging go into my subconscious.

(33:45): Maybe I'm crazy, but that's just how I feel about it. I don't like to watch TV at night in the bedroom because inevitably we fall asleep with it on and then I wake up again, it's two or three in the morning and have to fumble around to find the remote and shut it off. So I just recommend watch a TV and a TV room and go to bed and your bedroom and have your bedroom being like this Oasis that is dark and cool with no devices being turned on or activated and no TV or sound just unless you have like a, I use an Alexa, an Amazon device and I have sleep sounds, ocean sounds playing and so you can hear the ocean playing throughout the night. It's really, really nice and soothing to me. But try your best to get seven to nine hours of sleep. Maybe you need to go to bed earlier. Maybe you didn't need to eat dinner earlier or cut out alcoholic drinks, just whatever might be impacting your sleep. Try something different there. It's really important to get that sleep. Number eight is diet and exercise. And I talk about this quite a bit on this podcast.

(35:06): One of my friends in my mastermind group, she's a financial advisor based in Oakland, California near San Francisco. And she has wonderful areas around her community where she can just go off and do solo hiking. And there aren't many people around at all. In fact, all the pictures that she has posted on Instagram of her little hikes, her daily hikes, it looks like she's the only one out there. So I'm very jealous. I would love to have something like that. Dallas, we just don't, we don't have any real natural beauty. It's pretty much a concrete city and any of the places where you could go cycling or walking that are pretty, are just absolutely packed. I've refused to, to do that. I think that's risky and I think it puts me at risk and others at risk. But what can you do to get some exercise?

(36:09): Use what you have. I've got a few dumbbells and I've got a TRX pulley system that I can throw over a door and I shut the door and then it's locked in there. So I can do things like pull ups and there's all kinds of exercises you can do with a TRX system. It's nothing fancy. It's literally just this one piece of rope that goes over the doorway and that's been a really great tool. Use your body weight. There are tons of apps out there to do that. High intensity interval training, the hit training you can do, I think there's one that even allows you to do seven minutes a day and do that seven minute hit training. That's great. It gets your heart up and gets your blood pumping, helps to keep you physically fit during this time. You could go cycling if you're able to keep a healthy distance from other people and maybe wear a mask, that would probably be advisable.

(37:16): But walking, hiking, whatever you can do, use what you have to keep moving and stay fit. The other part of that is your diet, your nutrition. And the best thing I can say here to keep in mind is try to minimize your sugars, processed foods and alcohol consumption. So I wanted to say a bit about alcohol. You know, I don't think there are very few women in midlife that I know of who aren't having a glass of wine at least a few times a week, if not more often. And in some cases two glasses of wine. It's very, very common as midlife women professionals for us to enjoy drinking wine. And I just want to say that, be careful about that because there are many studies that show that as women we should have seven or fewer drinks per week. Now there are other studies that have shown that more than that is okay or that there are some benefits to drinking wine.

(38:34): And I haven't found anything super definitive on the topic other than drink in moderation if you're going to drink. I was talking to my athletic trainer the other day about this and she said, you know, a lot of her clients were drinking more and they're just admittedly saying yes. I had a couple glasses of wine last night and, and I've been the same way. It's been real easy at the end of the day with all the stress and overwhelm that we've been going through over the last six weeks to pour some wine. And Kay and I both have been doing that. So I'm saying this for myself just as much as I'm saying it to you, but alcohol can affect the quality of your sleep. It can cause you to gain weight, it can cause other issues like with your skin and your brain feels foggy the next day, that sort of thing.

(39:34): So just try to, to cut back a little bit here and there and focus on minimizing your sugar, processed foods and alcohol. And I think that can really go a long way to help you feel better and give you more energy. All right, so those were my eight ways to keep a positive mindset in tough times. Hope you found these things to be helpful. Let me know what you think. Send me some feedback. You can email me. It's [email protected] You can visit midlife money, gal.com there where I have many more episodes and resources available for you or you can hit me up on Twitter. I'm at Steph Sammons on Twitter. I'm Stephanie Sammons on Instagram. I'm on Facebook. Stephanie Sammons, CFP. I'm on LinkedIn. I'm very much into networking and helping others and connecting with others and I would love to connect with you and would love any feedback that you'd like to share with me. So thank you so much for tuning in and keep that positive mindset. Try to implement some of these practices. I hope that they help you. I think that they will and take care of yourself during this time.

(41:00): Tom,

(41:05): You've been listening to the midlife money gal podcast to learn more and to join our community, visit midlife money, gal.com this show is for informational and educational purposes only. Please do not consider any of the content as personalized financial investment, tax or legal

(41:42): [Inaudible].

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