What's the Point of Retirement if You Can't Enjoy it? Before reading this, I need you to practice something for me. Start by sitting up straight. Take a deep breath in. Exhale. Now put your hand on your stomach and try to expand your belly first while you pull all the air in, then exhale, clearing all the air out of your lungs. Make your next breath longer than the last. Got it? Now take a couple minutes for a few more deep breaths like this. Focus on your breathing and pushing your belly out, (just go with me here.)So…how do you feel now? Any more energy? Any less stress? “If you’re not used to breathing this way, there’s a tendency for your body to get lazy and breathe shallow,” explained Andrew Stimson, a personal trainer and Director of Operations at Front Door Fitness, and guest speaker at our client breakfast this month, as he kicked off our breakfast by coaching our clients and the BridgeQuest team (myself included) through this “belly breathing” session. We breathed. Andrew continued, “It may take some practice, but you want your diaphragm to pull the air into your lungs, bringing your heart rate down to calm yourself in a stressful situation.” I’ll be honest, this seemed like an unusual way to begin our “Health and Wellness” themed event. When I think of being physically fit, I think diet and exercise—getting my heart rate UP, not DOWN (which Andrew eventually discussed). I exercise almost daily. I even have a watch that tracks my progress like a badge of honor—“20 minutes in the fat-burning zone!” (as I high five myself). But Andrew was right, we often neglect possibly the most important part of our bodies—our minds. Just BreatheThe benefits of mindful breathing are numerous and backed by decades of research (and centuries of practice): increased energy, lower blood pressure, stress reduction, even possibly a decreased chance of dementia.But you don’t have to be a Yoga enthusiast or Buddhist Monk to reap the rewards. You can be a guy at the breakfast table waiting for his omelette. As I practiced this, each breath was like a small de-cluttering of my mind. After a couple minutes, I had more energy, my muscles felt awake and most importantly, my mind clear—perhaps I should try less Starbucks and more breathing?When Health Management meets Wealth ManagementSo what’s this have to do with financial planning? When we ask clients “What Matters Most?” (the focal point of our financial plans), the answers are rarely about money and often about health. As one client put it bluntly, “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have nothin.” He’s right. Health is everything, especially when you’re trying to transition well into the next stage of life. You work too hard to get to retirement only to have it derailed by health. We’ve seen it with our clients. I’ve seen it with my own father, trying to keep up with the physical demands of maintaining the family farm in retirement. This is why we host events on the topic of health. In financial planning, we’re always concerned with length of life (out-living your money), but we also talk to our clients about quality of life. If we profess to do holistic financial planning, shouldn’t we be just as concerned about the numbers on your Fitbit as the numbers in your bank account? Financial ImpactWe wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t talk some shop. Not only does quality of health impact your quality of life, it also has a direct impact on your finances. Here’s just a few examples:Insurance Costs: Better health can mean lower insurance premiums as insurance companies become increasingly more reliant on medical records, medications, and health history to determine rates.Healthcare Costs: Better health leads to less visits, prescription drug refills, and hospital visits.Forced Retirement or Disability: Poor health could cut short your peak earnings years.Here’s my challenge: Dedicate a few minutes each day for the next two weeks to intentionally breathe and see if this has a positive effect in your life. Greg Dillard Greg is a co-founder of BridgeQuest Wealth Strategies and a Wealth Advisor. He strives to ensure that clients gain clarity and focus in the financial planning process. Clients appreciate his ability to distill down his in-depth analysis into an understandable game plan.