This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week falls between 15 and 23 May, providing people from all walks of life with the opportunity to check in with their mental wellbeing.
Mental health has become a much more acceptable subject to discuss in recent years, with the younger generations leading the way for more openness on this topic. Yet for many people, especially those of later generations, discussing mental health may still feel like a monumental challenge.
As an IFA, you may have noticed an increase in client stress following the Covid-19 pandemic and with the cost of living crisis now taking hold. In listening to the mental health difficulties clients experience, you might have realised you are silently shouldering them too.
There is no shame in feeling this way – so in celebration of Mental Health Awareness Week, here are five meaningful ways IFAs can take better care of their mental health.
1. Learn to spot the signs of poor mental health before it gets worse
The last few years have seen a sea change in the advice industry. From embracing home and hybrid working, to dealing with different client needs in light of the market volatility and sustained high inflation, it’s likely you have faced some tough professional challenges recently.
Indeed, sometimes we don’t recognise the signs of overwhelm, stress, depression or anxiety in ourselves until they become unbearable.
Some early signs you could be harbouring serious stress as an IFA might include:
- Dreading the work day ahead when you wake up in the morning
- Feeling unable to switch off, even when at home with your family
- Losing sympathy for colleagues and clients who need your support
- Lack of sleep
- Racing negative thoughts.
If you have noticed these feelings recently, even in a minor way, taking them seriously from the outset can help you manage them. Speaking to a mental health professional before things become serious can allow you to manage your workload and look after your mental health simultaneously.
2. Offer yourself the kindness you give clients
As you lean into the holistic advice space, you may have dedicated time to develop your “soft” skills: listening, attentiveness, empathy, and communication style.
If so, it could be helpful to turn these skills inward, as well as offering them to clients and colleagues on a daily basis. You might find you are your own worst critic, and if you are experiencing stress, you might bottle it up in order to focus on client outcomes.
Instead, try tuning in to how you are feeling, listening to your own concerns, and treating yourself with the same kindness with which you treat your clients.
3. Practise having uncomfortable conversations
It can be challenging to discuss your mental health, even with those you love and cherish most.
If you find talking about your struggles particularly tough, it might help to start small. You can’t suddenly become totally open overnight – it might take chatting with one person, like your spouse, a family member, close friend, or trusted colleague, to start getting comfortable with mental health conversations.
By building up your resilience for talking about uncomfortable subjects, you could feel a weight lift off your shoulders, and as a result, may feel more capable of serving clients, being present with your family, and nurturing lasting friendships.
4. Set healthy boundaries at work
Whether you run a firm of employed advisers or have a standalone practice, it is likely you have spent countless hours working when you should be on holiday, relaxing at the weekend, or simply having some well-earned “me time”.
Yet overworking yourself could have long-term detrimental effects on your physical and mental health. A study published by Forbes shows 42% of small business owners have felt burned out in the last month alone.
While it might be difficult to keep strict nine-to-five hours as an IFA, here are some tips for maintaining work-life balance in our profession.
- Lead by example. Your clients come to you for help creating a healthy, balanced, sustainable life – if you’re running on empty and working seven days a week, how can you be trusted to curate a financial plan that meets these goals?
- Enlist help. Doing everything required to meet the rigorous standards IFAs are held to, while also maintaining client relationships, is impossible to achieve within a five-day work week. So, enlisting help – such as the paraplanning service we provide here at Corbel Partners – could take some of the weight off your shoulders.
- Schedule downtime. If you leave your downtime to fit in “whenever I get time”, it’ll never happen. Schedule at least three hours of downtime a week into your routine, where you are under no pressure to do anything except rest.
Restoring balance can be hard to achieve as an IFA, but these top tips could help shield your mental health from burnout.
5. Embrace the wider IFA community
Finally, embracing a community of people who share your experiences can be fundamental for good mental health.
Based on numerous psychological studies, a report from the Mental Health Foundation reveals that “people who are more socially connected to family, friends, or their community are happier, physically healthier, and live longer, with fewer mental health problems than people who are less connected”.
Here at Corbel Partners, we are proud to be a network that combines rigorous processes and standards with a warm, community-minded culture.
Being part of a network of IFAs with varied ages, experiences, and qualifications could help you feel more capable of achieving your goals in the profession without burning out from stress.
If you’ve experienced mental health challenges, we’ve got your back. We provide countless services that may lower your stress levels and strengthen your resolve – that’s why 100% of our advisers would recommend us.
Get in touch
For a chat about joining a community of IFAs, or any other matters that affect you, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01925 637891.
This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice.
If you are concerned about your mental or physical health, speak with a qualified medical professional.