Ep. 169 – Ellen Leonard – Dealing with Stress in Retirement

Are you noticing that you’re dealing with more stress now that you’re retired or close to retirement?

Stress is in itself not inherently bad, but chronic stress is and can lead to chronic illnesses. Becoming aware of how stress is showing up for you and being specific about what’s stressing you are great ways to take away the ambiguity of stress and start taking action.

In this episode of the Secure Your Retirement podcast, we have Ellen Leonard, a speaker, stress management consultant + coach, and expert who teaches and coaches business leaders, teams, and entire organizations how to manage and prevent stress. Listen in to learn about the signs and symptoms of chronic stress, how to be aware of them, and work on them to live your best retirement life.

In this episode, find out:

●     Ellen’s career background and how she helps people in corporate deal with stress.

●     Symptoms of stress in retirement, how to recognize stress, plus get professional help.

●     The impact of chronic stress on your life which include chronic illnesses.

●     How to become aware of stress and be very specific about what’s stressing you to take action.

●     How to use movement, sleep, and eating as stress management tools.

●     Why finding your true purpose in retirement can be a great stress management tool.

●     Start by reaching out to a professional as soon as you notice signs of stress in your life.

Tweetable Quotes:

●     “Ninety percent of illness is influenced by stress.”– Ellen Leonard

●     “We can do a compare and contrast and cultivate an awareness around how stress might be impacting us.”– Ellen Leonard

Get in Touch with Ellen:

●     Website: https://www.ellen-leonard.com/

●     LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ellenleonard/


If you are in or nearing retirement and you want to gain clarity on what questions you should be asking, learn what the biggest retirement myths are, and identify what you can do to achieve peace of mind for your retirement, get started today by requesting our complimentary video course, Four Steps to Secure Your Retirement!

To access the course, simply visit POMWealth.net/podcast.

Here’s the full transcript:

Radon:Welcome everyone to our secure your retirement podcast. Murs and I, in the podcast, we’re always talking about three different types of topics. One is financial. The other we talk about is legacy. Then we like to do some of the podcast around what we call lifestyle. That could be a lot of different things. We talk about health. We talk about fun things to do. Today is one of those lifestyle episodes. We have a very special guest, Ellen Leonard with us. First of all, let me just say, Ellen, thank you so much for coming on the show today.  
Ellen Leonard:Well, thank you guys for having me on. I’m really excited to speak to you and to your listeners.  
Radon:Great. Here’s the topic. I’m just going to say stressful situations that we have to deal with in life transition. Murs and I work with a lot of individuals. The average person that we work with is about 55 years to 70 years of age. So, lot of times they’re transitioning from a work life to a retirement life. A lot of our topics, a lot of the things that we deal with are around that. Today, what we thought we would do, because Ellen specializes in, I won’t say she specializes in stress, but how to manage stress. We wanted to talk to Ellen today and really kind of come around this topic of how do we deal with the stress when we are in transition in life.  
 We know, in talking to our clients, this whole concept of moving from saving for 30 and 40 years to now living on those savings, it is extremely stressful, no matter how much money you have. Everyone still has the worries. They’re worried about what am I going to do with my time? I’ve been working and now what am I going to do with my day? How’s that going to work? That adds stress. Then you have things like inflation and stock market problems and maybe even health issues that begin to occur. It all just adds to the stress. We think this is going to be a great topic of what we can deal with.  
 Murs, I’ll let you start off with getting us started on the first question for Ellen, on this idea of stress.  
Murs Tariq:Yeah. If you could give us a quick, just background on yourself, Ellen, as to how is it that you can talk about this stuff and make people understand and coach people through this whole stressful, whatever that transition is for them, whatever that process is. Let us know a little bit about your background.  
Ellen Leonard:Yeah. Thanks for that question. Since 2013, I’ve run a business called The Stress Less Method where I go into businesses and help people learn how to manage their stress more effectively, from the C-suite all the way down. It’s just been such a lovely experience to learn how people think about stress, to learn what helps them. My background is I was a actual scientific researcher, I’m very well published. I left that career to go into wellness. I use all evidence-based stress management techniques to help my clients and my students really find a way that works for them to help manage their stress.  
Murs Tariq:Yeah. My wife works somewhat in wellness as well, and that has just become this whole other category of a job description that used to not be there, if you look back 10, 15 years ago, because it was all just work, work, work, and everyone’s going to be okay somehow or the other. But now, we realize that stress and overall wellness and work life balance, all these things that are somewhat newer to the category of how do we get through life. I think it’s a great thing that you’re doing and helping people understand all of that.  
 Like Radon said, the people that we work with are close to retirement or they’re already retired. A lot of times we talk about employees wanting to retire because they’re so burnt out with what they’re doing at work, but then they transition to retirement and that’s a whole different bucket of stress. It’s not about dealing with bosses and dealing with employees and dealing with workload. Now, it’s all about, have I done a good enough job? Am I going to be able to take care of my family? Is our money going to last? A different level of stress. Also, what am I going to do in retirement to stay happy?  
 What are some of the ways that you see stress showing up for people? What are the symptoms of stress if we don’t start to work towards fixing it?  
Ellen Leonard:Yeah. Some of the symptoms that people often my clients are unaware of might be related to stress are difficulty sleeping, digestion issues, memory. I know a lot of your audience probably thinks that they’re just getting older and their memory is getting a little rougher, but oftentimes that’s definitely related to stress. Not being able to manage your emotions. You’re spending time with your grandkids and you’re a little bit shorter with them than you’d like. You’re spending time with family, you’re a little bit shorter than you’d. Maybe your golf game doesn’t go the way you want it to and somehow your golf club gets launched somewhere. Those are all indications of stress that can show up for people, often in ways that go unnoticed.  
 I think often people can look at stress as something that we just have to live with, something that’s just kind of in the ether and that we have to just accept. I challenge that very firmly. I don’t think that’s true at all. Certainly, as humans, we’re all going to experience stress, in one way or another, but there are certainly different ways that we can deal with that, especially when we start recognizing it. One of the things I work with my clients on is not only recognizing some of those symptoms, that I just listed, but correlating a direct cause.  
 What is it specifically that is adding stress? It’s maybe not so much that you’ve left your job and you feel like you don’t have anything to do, maybe it’s like, oh, I needed a new purpose. I don’t like that I don’t have a specific purpose every day. Or, I really wanted to spend more time with my kids and I’m finding that I don’t even have time to do that. That’s really stressing me out. Or maybe it is a money issue and they’re stressed about it, in which case I always encourage clients to seek out professional help, just like the two of you offer. It’s always good to have experts in your corner.  
 Yeah. I feel like that’s kind of an interesting way to kind of look at stress and how it can impact you and also some ways to start to think about it a little bit differently.  
Radon:Yeah. You just brought up that term there about the impact of it. You mentioned a lot of things that I think people probably do realize, I know that we get all the … A lot of folks tell us, “I’m not sleeping well at night. I don’t feel like I’m rested.” Some people actually are sometimes saying, “I feel like I’m having a panic attack.” They’re seeing those symptoms. Sometimes maybe people don’t recognize it as that, but what are some of the impacts that could happen to maybe them, their family life, their own happiness? What are some of the things that come out of this?  
Ellen Leonard:Stress doesn’t always have to be bad. Sometimes stress is good for us. The stress of really getting a project done on time or the stress of everybody’s coming over for a family meal and you have to get X, Y, and Z done. But oftentimes chronic stress, so especially stress that keeps occurring again and again, can be incredibly challenging for people and show up in a myriad of ways. It can start to show up for you personally in losing sleep, for example, as the example you used. But then that can seep into the rest of your life. I’m sure both of you have had sleepless nights where you’re not functioning at your best the next day. You’re maybe a little bit shorter with your loved ones in how you interact with them. You’re less able to accomplish things that you really wanted to work on. Less able to focus, and that can start to impact all the different aspects of your life.  
 Some estimates put it at 90% of illness is influenced by stress, which I think is just astonishing and that we should all be paying attention to how it’s impacting us. It certainly exacerbates cardiovascular issues, digestion issues. There’s just a myriad of ways that stress can show up, inflammation, and can start to really … I keep using that word sleep, but that’s the word. That’s how I really think about it. It just starts inside of you and it starts to grow into all the different aspects of your life, especially when it’s repeated again and again. For example, losing sleep for one night is very different from not being able to sleep four or five nights a week, for several months. That can start to really impact your life with the way that stress will kind of radiate out from something like that.  
Murs Tariq:It’s clear to me that, you know what you’re talking about when it comes to what can cause stress and you coach, you lead The Stress Less Method, which I believe you created. What are some of the ways that, or some of your top ways that someone can manage or start to think about managing their stress? What comes to my mind is, I’ve been told to meditate or do yoga. That’s just something that I’m not that interested in or have the patience for. What are some of the things that come to your mind when we’re trying to start this process of managing our stress?  
Ellen Leonard:You are not alone in that. One of the big reasons that I started The Stress Loss Method was I was finding that people were almost being coerced or forced into these stress management techniques like yoga or meditation, that they actually just hated. They did not like them. So one of the aspects of The Stress Less Method is that we try a bunch of different things to solve very specific issues.  
 When I’m working with clients, one of the things we start with is awareness. I know that seems so simple, but noticing how stress is impacting you, what are the things that you’re noticing in your life? Oh, I didn’t used to get so angry so quickly. Oh, I used to be able to sleep better. My stomach didn’t used to get upset like that. I used to enjoy doing this. We can kind of do a compare and contrast and cultivate an awareness around how stress might be impacting us.  
 Then the next thing that I often work with clients on, and is also part of The Stress Less Method, is to be specific about what is stressing you out. For example, it’s not work that is stressing you out, it’s something specific about work. It’s not, oh, marketing stresses me out. It’s going on podcasts add stress to my life. It’s being very specific about what is adding stress, because once you add that specificity and that awareness, it takes away the ambiguity of stress. It’s not retirement is stressing me out. You are very specific. Oh, I’m feeling nervous about my investments. I’m having stress specifically around that and around specifically not having enough money for my future and my family and my dreams and the things that I’ve worked for. That specificity allows you to take action. Without it, you’re just kind of stuck.  
 When you’re able to take action, that’s when people can really start to try things out. Apparently, Murs is not going to be doing any yoga or meditation, but for him, I might challenge him to … The top three things that I recommend for people are number one, movement. I know that seems so simple. I used to say exercise, but people have a lot of negative connotations associated with wellness professionals trying to force them into exercise. Playing with your grandkids, walking your dog, gardening, those are all forms of movement and all stress management tools, legitimately stress management tools, scientifically based stress management tools.  
 Number two, sleep. You don’t have babies in the house anymore. You have no excuses not to be making sleep a priority.  
 Number three, and this is going to sound so simple, eat when … I’m sure your listeners remember when they were at work, they might push through lunch. Well, now there’s no reason to be doing that. Eating meals consistently throughout the day, prevents you from maybe getting a little hangry and from having even energy throughout the day and can be an incredibly powerful stress management tool.  
 I’m going to add one more on for your listeners, specific for your listeners. That is to find a new purpose. When we’re leaving something that you’ve been doing your whole life, you’ve built a career, you’ve built a legacy, you’ve been saving for this moment. It’s so important to reconnect to what you really want to do with that. It’s so much more than just golfing and spending time with your grandkids. What else can it be? What does that mean to you? What value is that adding to your life? Reconnecting to that can be an incredibly powerful stress management tool that gives you direction, purpose, a sense of control. There’s a lot to that.  
 Those are my top four for right now.  
Radon:When you describe those, it sounds like, I think, in a lot of cases, the way … I’m just going to repeat it, you tell me if I’m wrong. In a lot of cases, if I am dealing with, I would say, your normal type of stress and your normal type of things that people would have, I can work toward self-management steps. Where I’m kind of almost kind of going down a do it yourself method where I’m doing these simple little things. But what if I’m trying those things, and maybe it’s a little bit bigger scenario than that. I’ve maybe passed some threshold where I’m now starting to feel like that’s not working. I mean, do you kind of have a point at which you say, okay … Because you mentioned it earlier, so I’m trying to get to the point where you say … You said seek professional help.  
 At what point do I go, “You know what? Maybe I need some assistance in this more than just trying to self-manage. We’ve actually talked prior to us coming on, in our business and what we do and how we help people some people do it themselves. They are okay with it and they go out and do all the research. They are okay with that. The people that we work with though say, “No, I need help. I know I need help. I’m going to go find somebody to help me do these things. That’s going to make me feel better.” When it comes to stress management, at what point would a person say, “I maybe need to go get some assistance,” in your opinion.  
Ellen Leonard:Yeah. In my opinion, I think you should be reaching out for help before that point. I am a big believer in creating a team that supports you in whatever you are wanting to be doing. For example, on my team, I have not only a business coach for my business, but I also have a financial advisor to help me manage my stress, to make me feel like I’m in control about things that I might not completely understand. I can’t be an expert in everything. I obviously have a doctor. I am not in charge of some things about my health and wellness, as I should not be. I have a therapist, to work on … Especially in my role of serving other people and helping other people, I need to be able to process that and deal with that.  
 Anything that you can hire out. A personal trainer, a massage therapist. At this point, for your listeners, they’ve worked hard for where they are. If they see something that is adding stress to their life, that they can hire out and have somebody to be on their team, I suggest doing it sooner rather than later. Noticing that would be really amazing and I can afford to do that. So, I’m going to.  
Murs Tariq:Yeah. I think you said it spot on. You’ve worked so hard to get to where you are and you want to make this next phase of your life that we call retirement, you want to make that as smooth and as fun and as golden as it’s painted to be. Stress doesn’t belong in there, it should be one of the easier parts of your life. If someone wanted to learn a little bit more about The Stress Less Method, that you’ve created, or more about your teachings, how would they be able to get in touch with you or learn more about you?  
Ellen Leonard:Yeah. You can find me at www.ellen-leonard L-E-O-N-A-R-D com. You can find all the information there. I’ll be sure to share a link with you that will lead you some additional stress management resources for people who … I do admit, I have some meditations on there, but I also have some books and podcasts that are helpful and some ideas to start managing your stress today so that you can start to take action today.  
Radon:That’s excellent. For anybody listening on our website page where we have this episode posted on our show notes, wherever it might be, we’ll have that link that Ellen mentioned. Thank you so much for that, Ellen.  
 I just want to say thank you. Murs and I certainly do appreciate you coming on and taking time out of your schedule to share some ideas with us. I know our listeners have benefited. Thank you so much for coming on and talking with us.  
Ellen Leonard:Well, thank you for having me. This has been lovely. I hope everybody really does start to take some action, to make a little bit less stress in their lives. Because certainly you have all worked so hard to be where you are right now and should be just mostly enjoying things.  
Radon:Great. Thank you so much.