Although people may not realize that they are experiencing stress, Daniel Crosby, Chief Behavioral Officer at Brinker Capital, says that recognizing the symptoms is an important first step in coping with extra pressures during the global pandemic. To diagnose and control stress, he recommends the RAIN model — it stands for recognize, allow, investigate, and non-identification.
The first task in this framework, recognizing the symptoms, might be more difficult than it seems. Crosby says that observing patterns around food intake, sleep, and exercise can provide excellent cues. Stress can manifest itself through loss of sleep, lack of appetite, excessive eating, anxiety, or being short tempered. Noticing these symptoms can lead to a constructive diagnosis.
Once stress is recognized, the next step in the RAIN model is acceptance. Crosby said, “It’s an important thing to say to yourself, and perhaps even to the world ‘yup, I’m stressed out, I recognize it and I own it.’”
Instead of trying to root out the problem right away, Crosby suggested that a more effective method for dealing with stress is to acknowledge it and to avoid making judgments. The more we try to suppress something, the stronger its grip on us becomes. By accepting and letting go, we create the space to cope with the problem.
After allowing stress to happen, Crosby recommends moving to the next step: investigate. As in the “recognize” part of the model, this is a good moment to scrutinize diet and exercise. Sleeping patterns, food intake, and physical activity could indicate psychological imbalances, and tweaking our habits around resting, eating, and moving can help with stress.
The final step is non-identification. “You are not your feeling,” Crosby said. He encourages us to separate our sense of identify from our feelings; they are not the same. It’s important to draw these distinctions when coping with stress.
Financial professionals should be aware that their clients are also experiencing a lot of pressure. According to Crosby, around 40% of people in the United States consult a financial professional for their investments, but less than half of those seeking advice will heed it.
Advisers who want their clients to listen should begin by stating the purpose of the conversation. Crosby recommended starting with an explanation of why the conversation is happening. Studies show that people who are given a reason for a request are more likely to comply, even when that reason is nonsense.
Crosby also recommended using evidence, such as scientific research or writings from authorities, to support an adviser’s recommendations. It puts more weight behind the words and shows that others also support that course of action.
Finally, Crosby recommended giving clients the smallest possible directive that can easily be accomplished. Once that is complete, the adviser can follow up with praise and assign a slightly bigger task. Incrementally increasing the requests will set clients on a path to accomplish bigger goals.
Crosby finished on an optimistic note, explaining why he is upbeat during this time. He has faith in science’s ability to find a vaccine, highlighting that this is not the first deadly disease that the world has fought; we have successfully contained Ebola and SARS in the past. Hopefully, his framework can help everyone get through these volatile times.
This year, archived recordings of every presentation from the CFA Institute Annual Virtual Conference will be available online, with additional insights and commentary published on the CFA Institute Annual Virtual Conference blog.
All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.