Financial Freedom & Wellbeing: How Stress Management Paves the Way

Embarking on Entrepreneurship on the Road to Financial Independence

Health on the way to fi series, stress management paves the way, woman stretching with yoga ball in from of desk with computer.

I’m pleased to present a new interview from my series ‘Health on the Way to FI.’ Today,  I’m sharing the inspiring story of Marie-Josée Simard, a trained nurse with over 30 years of experience in healthcare, who has held various management positions.

Marie-Josée decided to change course to follow her deep passion for helping managers find a balance in life through better stress management, a process that transformed her own life and that of her clients.

Her journey reflects a profound commitment to well-being and mental health, essential values for navigating financial freedom while preserving quality of life.

1. Where did the desire to leave your career come from:

I had long dreamed of helping people in management roles because I found there were few services to support them with the issues they face daily. I didn’t yet know how I would do it.

This category of worker is often negatively judged in the media and by the population. Yet, these are people who give so much at work, who want to improve things, and who often find themselves like the slice of bread in the middle of a club sandwich, between employees and top management. I myself was a manager for over fifteen years; I know what they experience, what they can feel.

2. Tell me a bit about where you were on your trajectory toward financial independence.

I left a job where I was earning a salary that far exceeded the average salary in Quebec. I found myself in financial insecurity. That’s why I made the change gradually. My goal was to become a full-time coach.

While building my business and establishing my client base, I kept a portion of work as a consultant in the field where I was working. This ensured me a basic income to pay my bills while implementing my project. Moreover, I had savings that allowed me to respond to emergencies, if needed.

3. What led you to focus your work on stress?

In 2019, my daughter gave me the book “Par amour du stress” written by Sonia Lupien. This book was revealing for me. It allowed me to understand why throughout my career I had never been exhausted to the point of ending up in depression or burnout. Several of my colleagues and some of my bosses had been, and I didn’t understand why not me. This book made me realize that, unknowingly, I had habits that allowed me to better manage my stress.

I did several other readings and trainings in neuroscience to better understand. When I left my job in 2021, it wasn’t yet clear in my mind that I would accompany managers in finding a certain balance in life through better stress management. It was by continuing my training and questioning myself about what I really wanted to do that I found my answer.

4. What is the impact of good health on both physical and mental levels on stress management?

It’s crucial! Moving, no matter how, the intensity, and the duration is the best way to release the energy stored in our body by stress. I keep saying that managing stress is really simple, and often people don’t believe me. We tend to complicate things too much. Yet, by implementing a few small habits, by stocking our toolbox well, and by being attentive to what is happening within us, we manage to find peace of mind.

Stress is a significant issue in causes related to mental health. Learning to manage stress, to work with it, and I would even say to have fun with it, significantly improves mental health.

5. Has your stress management changed during this significant transition to entrepreneurship?

Definitely. By working on my own stress management, I really became aware of the scenarios I created and the stories I told myself. My hamster rolls much slower in my head now. I don’t give situations as much importance as before. I see them with much less intensity and scope. It’s my perception of events and situations that has radically changed.

I am now able to react more quickly when a sign of stress appears in me. Sometimes it takes a long time to find the cause, but I persevere until I find it to work on it. However, this search for the stressor must not increase my stress. If I can’t find it, I apply my tools and observe what happens. It’s amazing to see that when I give less importance to a situation, its intensity decreases considerably, even to the point of sometimes disappearing without major interventions.

6. How do current habits of managers and entrepreneurs impact their work-life balance?

The first thing I look at when working with my clients is their basic needs. Many don’t eat, drink, or eliminate to the extent of their physical and neurological needs. For a brain to function well, it needs to be nourished and hydrated, just like the other organs in our body. If we do not adequately respond to the need for hunger, thirst, and going to the bathroom, this state is perceived as a threat to survival by our brain, and it will then generate a stress reaction because its first function is to ensure our survival. It’s simple, yet it’s a reality present in managers and entrepreneurs.

Just by changing these habits, they can see that they have a little more energy to get through their day and are less tired at the end of it. They could thus be in better shape when they come home and perhaps even do activities. This, in turn, could help restore a certain balance in their lives.

7. What is the impact of prioritizing stress management on your financial goals or those of your clients?

When I am able to navigate with my stress and be aware of its intensity to bring it to the level I need, I am in a better position to think, innovate, imagine, plan, and execute. In this condition, the achievement of any goal, and certainly financial ones, becomes possible.

When we are stressed, some functions of our brain are less used because they are not considered a priority in the situation. Specifically, our ability to create, concentrate, and our memory are all affected. So, if we are continually in a state of stress, which is called chronic stress, we are almost never in winning conditions to achieve goals.

8. What challenges have you encountered in maintaining good physical and mental health, and how have you worked to overcome them?

The biggest challenge was integrating my habits into my daily schedule, which was very busy. I started with one element at a time. It was clear that exercising was the first thing to do. For years, on average 5 mornings a week, I have been exercising. For me, it’s a non-negotiable priority. I don’t let my brain decide for me. If one morning, I wake up more tired, then I will reduce the intensity of my workout. There is no question that I won’t do it because I know I won’t have the same energy throughout my day.

I have never been an athlete and I don’t aim to be one. However, moving in any way is vital to me. It’s also one of my habits that has allowed me for so many years to better manage my stress, to release the pressure valve to prevent my whole body from erupting like a volcano.

9. What resources have helped you progress in transforming and/or maintaining good habits around your health?

As I was a nurse for 32 years, seeing sick patients was a great inspiration to take care of my health. I have seen too many people lose their quality of life or even die, in part, because of bad lifestyle habits and the stress they experienced.

I have also been accompanied by various professionals throughout my life. They have allowed me to understand and change behaviors and habits in my life.

I am fortunate to have wonderful family and friends. The environment and network in which we operate are important in our stress management.

10. What advice do you have for someone who is struggling to maintain good stress management on the way to FI?

First, stop saying and repeating “I am stressed.” The more you say it, the more you send the message to your brain that your life is in danger, and the more it will generate a stress reaction to protect you.

Take a step back and analyze your condition; this is crucial. Are you exhausted to the point where you can’t see clearly? Taking the step to seek help from a professional (doctor, psychologist, others) is a great act of humility and above all, the best gift you can give yourself, even if you don’t see it that way currently.

If you are capable of changing habits and integrating new ones, go for it, don’t wait any longer. The step requires courage, and you will be so proud and especially better afterward.

If you think being accompanied in doing so could help you, there are numerous resources, like me, who can make this journey with you.


What I admire most about Marie-Josée’s journey is her willingness to transform her own experience to help others. Her commitment to well-being and mental health resonates deeply with my own approach in financial coaching. As she so aptly points out, stress can be a major obstacle on the path to financial independence, affecting our abilities to achieve our goals. That’s why I adopt a compassionate and positive approach to finances, seeking to help my clients improve their relationship with this important area of their lives.

In fact, I am convinced that the habits that have allowed Marie-Josée to better manage her stress helped her make the leap from a well-paying job to a certain financial insecurity strategically and courageously. This corresponds to one of the key stages of my financial coaching, where I help my clients navigate with confidence through significant financial transitions, focusing on emotional management and work-life balance.

Marie-Josée and I share the belief that balance in life is essential for optimal financial and mental health. I am inspired by her courageous decision to follow her passion and help others find balance in life by better managing their stress.

Her story clearly demonstrates that health and well-being are essential aspects of our lives. By investing in our mental and physical health, we can not only achieve our financial goals but also lead a more fulfilling and satisfying life.

I am grateful to Marie-Josée for sharing her inspiring story, and I hope you find as much inspiration as I do in her journey.

If you want to learn more about Marie-Josée’s work and follow her journey, you can do so through these various means:

Visit Marie-Josée’s website:

You can also find her on Facebook, Instagram & LinkedIn

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