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A Financial Markets Crash - How To Work With A Stress Response

With the crisis happening in Russia/ Ukraine and Covid cases growing in Hong Kong and China, financial markets have been extremely volatile. For people in financial services or banking, this can be an extremely stressful time.

That moment when you see the figures tumble can be a breath-holding/ heart racing time.

So how do you deal with a rise in emotions which can ultimately affect your judgement, your actions and your health? The following outlines some of the reactions that you might be having, and how to overcome them, or alternatively work with them.


Screen or email apnoea is becoming a common phenomenon. We have a tendency to hold our breath when we see something that’s upsetting, shocking or that we were not expecting. Next time you open that email or look at that message, make sure you notice if you are holding your breath. Holding your breath denies your brain of essential oxygen needed for effective cognitive functioning, problem-solving, thought process, and regulating emotional response.

If you notice yourself holding your breath, breathe out deeply and then try some box breathing. Breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, breath out for four seconds. Repeat 4 times.

Relax / Move

Noticing your somatic response (your physiological reaction to an emotional response) can be essential for regaining mental and physical homeostasis. When you start to go into a stress response notice where you feel it. Do you clench your jaw? Do you clench your fists? Does your chest feel tight? Do your shoulders hunch up?

Whatever might be happening to you physically relaxing and releasing this will help your brain reframe how you are feeling. Making a conscious effort to relax those muscles, will in turn help you start to let go of the emotion. Some people find that walking and really focusing on their body from head to toe, relaxing as much as possible can help.

Start Positively Planning

Your focus needs to move away from what you can’t control, let it go, move forwards and toward what you can control. Some people find it useful to make a list of what they can control, and then start creating an action plan with step-by-step instructions looking at what they can do next.

Remember even taking one small step towards a recovery plan will help you become more and more resourceful. Putting the brain into a positive place, which in turn will help your cognitive ability, performance and wellness.

So remember:

  • Breathe

  • Relax/ move

  • Plan

If you find it difficult to start finding a way forward is during the planning stage recruit a colleague, friend, family member or even an Executive Coach to help you. Somebody independent from your situation can quite often be innovative and think of another way through to resolution.

Caroline Langston is the Co-Founder of Successful Consultants Ltd, an Executive, Personal and Career Development Coaching company in Hong Kong and New York. She is also the Founder of a nonprofit providing free information and coaching to people who are unemployed. Caroline is dedicated to coaching people for success and happiness in their careers and lives. She is degree qualified with a Certificate in Professional Coaching Mastery from the ICF, Certificate in Team Coaching from the EMCC. Also further certifications in Neuro Linguistic Programming at Master Practitioner and Coach level.

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