Staying Mentally Sound During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Staying Mentally Sound During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Many of us are facing unprecedented challenges during this coronavirus crisis in America, and it has increased anxiety and fear levels in all of us. The reactive part of your brain called the amygdala, a human physiological response when faced with fear, takes control of your actions, and you enter what is known as the fight-flight-freeze response. This stress response induces your body to produce a steroid called cortisol to handle the feelings of fear. Unfortunately, cortisol has another effect on your physiology; it weakens your immune system. This effect makes you more vulnerable at a time when you need strength.
No matter what your challenges are during this pandemic, there is one thing you can bring to the crisis from which all other problems can be better solved, overcome your fear with mental toughness. Being afraid can quite literally make you more susceptible to becoming sick. As such, the proper precautions like getting adequate rest, staying hydrated, and social distancing should have an additional component, help your brain to feel safe to maximize your physical health.
Some of the techniques you can employ include shifting your focus to those things you are grateful for, like a roof over your head, food in your refrigerator, your health. Consider all of the things you have that others may not; the things we all may typically take for granted. If you can’t find gratitude about your circumstances, think of those people working on the front lines in this continuing pandemic and be grateful it is not you. Finding something to be grateful for will immediately get you out of the fight-flight response.
Begin to practice empathy. Look at the time you spend with your loved ones at home as a gift and not a jail sentence. Embrace being with them, laugh, tell them you appreciate them because when you spread joy to others, it will boost their immune system as well. It turns out that being positive is healthy and contagious. We all have a rare opportunity to forge better, more loving relationships with our immediate family, or if you live alone, take the time to recharge and re-center yourself. Take full advantage of this moment and choose positive behaviors. Extend your empathy to those who are feeling ill if possible, through video chat, phone calls, texts, or prayer. This moment is so much bigger than just ourselves.
Turn off the news and turn on personal growth and connection. News reports are full of data, some of which are not accurate. Being addicted to the 24/7 news cycle breeds uncertainty and fear as it touts mostly negative statistics and woeful stories of the moment. The basics about this pandemic are well documented at this point. Practice proper hygiene, particularly with your hands, avoid touching your face, avoid large gatherings, and implement social distance but do not do this out of fear, do it as an act of service. Flip how your brain associates your daily choices by knowing that your actions are preventing the potential deaths of others.
Find something in media or on television that brings a smile to your face or makes you laugh. Break out the board games, cards, art projects, or walk outside (distant from others!) and get some sun. Sun provides vitamin D for your system, which also boosts your immune system. Whatever you choose, staying active and busy in a positive way will lessen any concern or fears that you are experiencing about the pandemic.
These points of view may all may read as cliché, but in 2009 Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone conducted a study consisting of two groups of people learning to play a simple piano melody. For five days, one group practiced the melody for two hours a day while the other group, over the same time, sat in front of the keyboard, imagining they were playing the melody. Dr. Pascual-Leone mapped the brain activity of the study participants before, during, and after the experiment, and the results were surprising. Both groups experienced the same brain changes. What this means is the brain does not differentiate between imagination and reality. What this also means is you have a choice, a choice to be riddled with anxiety, worry, and uncertainty or the opportunity to be courageous, bold, and confident by simply imagining those feelings. How you feel is a choice.
In simple terms, when you have a thought, your brain sends a pulse of electrical activity at the same moment. This electrical activity stimulates a release of neuropeptides that communicate with your body to produce a feeling. So truly, your thoughts create feelings. Activate your brain’s natural superpowers and boost your immune system by redirecting your brain’s thought patterns. Remind yourself daily to think positive thoughts, be grateful, and practice empathy which will give you the mental toughness to endure what still lies ahead.
We are open for business and would be happy to discuss any concerns you have. The pandemic we are living through has opened everyone’s eyes to the importance of having healthcare documents, as well as other planning documents like a will or trust. If you’d like to discuss your particular needs, please contact us – we’d be happy to help. Just call us at 1.800.660.7564 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay safe. Stay healthy.
Many Wealthy Retirees Are Too Scared to Spend
Many Wealthy Retirees are Too Scared to Spend
While the US economy is in a cycle of more than ten years of economic growth, its citizens, even the “wealthy” ones, are worried about running out of cash and are scared to spend. Bloomberg.com is reporting many retirees, and near-retirees are sitting on their wealth in much the same way large corporations are hoarding stockpiles of cash. Even famed investor Warren Buffet and his multinational conglomerate holding company Berkshire Hathaway Inc are side-lining cash in excess of $122 billion.
Americans are experiencing a strong economy. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is steadily growing. There are low-interest rates, low unemployment, a stable currency, and more than $1 trillion of available investor cash. For those retirees who are financially well off then, why is there anxiety about money and reluctance to enjoy it in retirement years? Yes, many of the wealthy are planning on leaving a legacy to their heirs, but something else is happening.
Wealth in the US is becoming more concentrated among fewer households. Consolidating wealth is like consolidating power. Ultimately there is little difference between the two. The Americans who have most benefited from this ten-year boom cycle in the American economy are averse to spending their money. They want to survive an economic downturn and still maintain their elite financial status. This conservative approach will likely guarantee them a very comfortable lifestyle even in the event of bleak financial times. Former Brookings Institution fellow Matt Fellowes states, “It’s trillions and trillions of wealth that is not benefiting anyone except asset managers.” The rich, sitting on their wealth, create stagnant money, which negatively impacts the vitality of the American economy.
The Federal Reserve provides a quarterly balance sheet of all individual and charitable monies and America’s combined net worth now stands at $109 trillion. It is a lot of money; however, it has disproportionately flowed to the wealthy. Celebrity and wealth-obsessed culture saturates Americans with images of the rich with expensive real estate, private jets and yachts, and attending posh philanthropic parties. The reality of the average millionaire in America is far more frugal than their Instagram and paparazzi driven counterparts. Retirement experts often disagree as to why these conservative millionaires are unwilling to enjoy the fruits of their lifelong labors.
Being cautious with money is inherently prudent, particularly at the height of an economic boom cycle. Even without market uncertainty, a key characteristic of modern capitalist economies is a boom-bust cycle. A process of economic expansion (boom) will be followed by economic contraction (bust), and the cycle occurs repeatedly.
All Americans, even the wealthy ones, are experiencing uncertainty about their economic future. Will their rate of return on investments be able to address increasing medical costs? Will they have enough streams of income to support themselves when taking into account their longevity risk? Collectively, Americans are not saving enough to accomplish a successful retirement. However, individually, wealthy Americans are fearful of losing their financial position in a severe market downturn. These wealthy Americans have already lived through harsh economic times, particularly the Great Recession. This economic bust was triggered by the subprime mortgage crisis and the collapse of the US housing market bubble. Market bubbles present themselves from time to time, and if the free market successfully deleverages them, there is little economic incident. But when the bottom drops out, bleak economic times follow.
Once you achieve wealth, it becomes an inherent part of your identity, and consequently spending your wealth is like spending your own identity’s capital. Additionally, as you age, the tendency is to become more risk-averse, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). With the bulk of the wealth of America in older households than in previous decades, it is no surprise that risk-averse strategies are in play. A lifetime spent acquiring wealth and watching accounts and investments mature then morphs into retirement years of asset spending and the dilution of wealth. The majority of wealthy Americans are not keen to adapt to the life cycle of asset accumulation followed by retirement spending. Their preference is to live frugally, retaining as many assets as possible to be able to ride out an economic downturn.
Planning for retirement can be stressful. Having a proper estate plan in place can eliminate much of the stress, especially when it comes to transferring assets to children who may not be ready to handle large sums of money. We can help. Give us a call to discuss your wishes, and how to design a plan that will help carry those wishes out by calling us at 1.800.660.7564 or by emailing us at email@example.com.
Covert | Law
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