As market volatility upends portfolios, being patient and staying the course are probably the last advice many investors want to hear.

But according to a survey by Nationwide, 51% of non-retired investors indicated that they are “terrified” about their long-term and post-retirement financial futures, and 43% are checking their retirement account balances more than three times a week.

The Nationwide's eighth annual Advisor Authority study found that while more men (55%) than women (34%) are feeling terrified about their post-retirement financial futures, women are likely to take more peeks at their account balances ( 53% vs. 34%). The survey further found that women (35%) are more likely than men (26%) to take steps to adjust their retirement portfolio.

Eric Henderson, president of Nationwide Annuity, suggests investors break away from obsessively checking their balances as the holiday season approaches. Such behavior “can create self-induced anxiety which can lead to short-sighted, emotional decisions. It's a habit that is unlikely to serve a constructive purpose at a time when we'd all like to be focused on recharging our batteries and being with the people we care about,” he said in a statement.

He added, “If you want to take proactive steps, have a conversation with your advisor or financial professional and establish a long-term plan – or revisit the plan you already have in place to ensure it remains aligned with your goals in the current environment.”

High inflation and recession fears also are driving investors to not only rethink when they can retire but where they can retire. More women than men are having a change of mind (38% vs. 26%) of when they can retire. Women (44%) also are more likely than men (28%) to agree that the current economic climate have made them rethink where they can retire. Additionally, women are twice as likely to indicate that a significant downturn in the economy will heavily impact their retirement expectations turn (37% vs. 19%).

The study found that investors’ angst also has affected advisors and financial professionals. A third of advisors indicated that their pre- and recently retired clients are canceling or delaying retirement. It also noted that only 17% of advisors indicated that most of this group of clients has contingency plans for a major market downturn. The data further showed that “despite their pre- and recent-retiree clients apparent lack of preparation, only 23% of advisors describe this cohort as ‘very anxious’ about the current market environment.”

But Henderson pointed out that “some advisors may be underestimating the level of anxiety their clients are living through,” according to the data. “Advisors and financial professionals should seize the opportunity to engage with their clients to reinforce the importance of sticking to their long-term plan,” he said, adding that “another way to address client anxiety about forces beyond their control is to help them understand the value of protection solutions, like annuities, that can guarantee income in retirement and guard against market volatility.

The survey found that less than a quarter (24%) of investors preparing for retirement do not have enough guaranteed income in their retirement portfolio to weather a recession. It noted that non-retired women are much more likely to say they have enough income in their retirement portfolio to survive a recession (38% vs. 13% of men).

The Nationwide Advisory Authority Survey included 506 financial advisors and 521 investors with more than $10,000 investable assets. It was s conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Poll from July 27 through August 16, 2022.