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Coping with Stress: Can we learn from Investment Bankers?





Investment banking is one of the most high-pressure industries out there, and it’s no secret that the job can be incredibly stressful. Whether it’s the long hours, the intense competition, or the pressure to generate profits, investment bankers are constantly under stress. However, despite the challenging nature of their work, some investment bankers have developed a number of strategies to help them cope with stress and maintain their performance over the long term.

After some chats with some folks in the industry, a few commonalities started to appear, here are some of the strategies mentioned to help with overall well-being:

Wake up early

If we are to believe the plethora of books on high achievers, we would be forgiven to think early morning starts are a given character trait for all city working folks. Well for the rank-and-file employee where sleep remains a highly valuable commodity perhaps not, but early starts continue to feature in the recommended must-haves for the already converted.

The idea of waking up early is to get a head start on the day ahead, to be in control of events, not events to be in control of you. Early starts to build additional capacity in your day, creating more time to get work done before the rest of the world wakes up and starts demanding your attention.

By waking up early, motivated people are able to start their day with a sense of calm and focus, which can help them be more productive throughout the day.

Eat a healthy breakfast

We all need to fuel our bodies, in order to stay focused and productive. Eat a healthy balanced breakfast in the morning, to give ourselves the energy to tackle the day ahead. Eat breakfast in the office canteen, at your, on public transport or at your own breakfast table. What’s your pick? comment below

Exercise and physical activity

It is no secret that regular exercise can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Many bankers make it a point to work out or engage in physical activity on a regular basis, whether it’s going for a run, hitting the gym, or other active team-driven sports. Exercise not only helps reduce stress, but it can also boost energy levels and improve mood, which can be especially helpful during long workdays.

There is no shortage of gyms in London’s square mile, from fully-fledged gym & spa membership complexes to boxing gyms. Take a stroll through London’s financial district and you will often see the runners out dispelling the myth that not everyone remains desk-bound, round the clock.

Disengage from city-driven media outside of work

One found solace in stopping reading city material on the commute to and from work and putting a big cross through it on weekends too, in order to grab back more downtime from the office. This particular fellow used to read Merger and Acquisition papers and then had a thought, I don’t even work in M&A, turning to novel reading instead. The takeaway does not to underestimate the mind remaining in the office when consuming relatable type content.

Seeking Therapy, even though we are not American

This advice is also shared with anyone who works in the ‘pressure cooker’, they should not hesitate to seek support from therapy (contact here if you are interested), when things are feeling too much and overwhelmed. Talking through concerns and feelings with someone can help them feel less alone and more in control. Therapy can work on several domains tied to reducing and coping with stress and anxiety, as well as learning the skills of Mindfulness (also on the list below), and super-deep levels of relaxation through Hypnosis and the learning of the art of self-hypnosis.

One particular benefit of therapy is understanding the work and life balance, from another perspective

Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation are powerful tools for managing stress and improving mental clarity. these techniques can help stay focused and calm in the midst of a hectic workday. By taking a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness or meditation, improvements to the ability to concentrate, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being, are notable outcomes. A very early adopter of mindfulness in the workplace, i.e. early 1980s Steve Jobs, prepared before taking the stage at what would one day transform into the Apple product showcase events. Side thought, does anyone remember where they were when the Ipad was showcased, it was a great relaxed pitch, that sold a compelling vision.

Time management

Not only Investment bankers, but anyone juggling multiple tasks and deadlines, if tasks are left unorganised and without a system, the task list will eventually become overwhelming. To manage workload and reduce stress, the key takeaway from our friendly bankers is to prioritise tasks and create a daily to-do list, by breaking down tasks into smaller chunks, and more manageable tasks. Never have tasks that bleed over into a new 24-hour cycle, become in control of the task list, and not be led by it. Protect the list as precious as water is to life, taking control helps workload and reduces stress.

Support networks & Socialising

Investment banking can be a lonely job, and tips such as relying on external support networks to help cope with stress were almost at the top of the list. This might include family members, friends, or colleagues who understand the demands of the job and can provide emotional support when needed. Having a strong support network can help stay motivated and resilient in the face of stress. It was also pointed out, those in your networks not involved in the industry have more of a software external view of just how much of a pressure cooker the office can actually be, but that’s ok, it’s your decision to work in the sector.

Socialising with work colleagues is an investment and can pay dividends in all sorts of ways, however from a mental health point of view, the balance needs to be found to have an off switch, from work and to disengage from all that is connected

Hobbies and interests

Life outside of work with the cultivation of outside interests allows for relaxation and recharge. Whether it’s playing a musical instrument, painting, or participating in team sports commitment, having a hobby can provide a much-needed break from the demands of work and help reduce stress.

Before you reach for the comment section I have no time for this, the general

In conclusion, investment banking is a demanding and stressful career, but there are a number of strategies that bankers can use to manage stress and maintain their performance over the long term. By prioritising their physical and mental health, cultivating a strong support network, and pursuing hobbies and interests outside of work, investment bankers can stay motivated, resilient, and successful in their careers.


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