Lifestyle health Diet
Running your own company is stressful enough. Add a pandemic, economic uncertainty, and a chaotic news cycle and you have the perfect storm for elevated anxiety, high blood pressure and depression. Many are experiencing one or more of these symptoms due to isolation, a decrease or loss of income, the fear of getting sick and what the future may hold. “Self-care has never been more important,” says Kim Henry-Nance, LMFT.
A 2015 Harvard Business Review article described the evolutionary response our brain has when faced with a threat, and depicts how our brain is responsible for detecting fear and preparing our body for an emergency response. “These sensations are not exactly pleasant — they’re not meant for relaxation. They’re designed to move us to action,” it explains. Right now, you may not be jubilant about your company’s present state or planning a well-deserved vacation to Bali. You are probably in survival mode and sweatpants.
When you are struggling with mental health issues, it’s difficult to function at a normal rate, both personally and professionally. And though it can be debilitating, you are not alone, and help is readily available. Kim suggests focusing on “a lifestyle that prioritizes quality sleep, a balanced diet, exercise, decreased use of alcohol and other substances to increase the mental and physical resiliency needed to creatively navigate these challenging times.”
Today’s uncertainty is daunting. It’s overwhelming not knowing when we will shift to a “normal way of life” again. In the meantime, here are some simple tools you can use to cope in healthy ways.
1.Take Care of Your Mental Health
There is no shame in asking for help. For some, confiding in friends and family may not be comfortable or realistic. Even if you have open and supportive people around you, there are some issues best solved with professional help. Finding a therapist you connect with and talking with them on a weekly basis is a great place to start. Medication for mental health can be a controversial topic, but it is an option to consider. If that is a route you want to explore, a psychiatrist is best suited to provide care.
For critical issues such as severe depression or suicidal ideation, checking into a daily outpatient mental health facility or an inpatient psychiatric residency may be the safest place and a starting point of recovery. Founders may be concerned about how these treatments will impact their company. But know this: your life is far more valuable and important than any business. A short period away from your work most likely won’t have a lasting impact, and by getting the help you need, you will be better able to show up for your business and team when you are healthier.
4. Be Honest with Your Partners
Some of the stress entrepreneurs are facing right now is a result of not being able to fully operate their business while resources are temporarily unavailable. Many manufacturing facilities are still closed or experiencing delivery delays as the result of layoffs and furloughs. The emotional toll on founders of service-based companies is tremendous.
We are all in this together. Most understand the significant impact Covid-19 is having on both our daily lives and what businesses are realistically capable of delivering. Even though we are not expected or able to operate at normal speed, if you know you won’t be able to meet a deadline, call your vendors and partners to give them new dates for deliverables. Most will be accommodating and keeping people in the loop will help maintain positive relationships. Above all, having open lines of communication will give you a sense of relief.
Keep two journals: one for your emotions and one for creativity. Releasing feelings of fear, anger and sadness through writing is a great way to clear your mind and lessen unwanted emotions. A separate creativity journal aids in keeping your thoughts focused. Being imaginative will also distract you from your current circumstances, and who knows? You may discover your next great company or product idea.
There is a reason why exercise tops the lists of so many self-care articles. Physical activity creates a brain/body connection that releases tension and trauma from the body and increases endorphins. Accelerated blood flow and oxygen promotes a better state of well-being.
There are countless ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine that don’t involve investing in a Peloton or Mirror. Soak in some mood-boosting Vitamin D by going for a run, brisk walk or finding an outdoor area where you can safely socially distance from others and use light weights and a resistant band for strength training. If you prefer indoor workouts, there are thousands of fitness videos on YouTube, club and studio websites offering free classes, and live Facebook, Instagram and Zoom sessions.
What we are collectively experiencing is unprecedented. Having less control over your business is disconcerting. But while your company may seem like your lifeline, it isn’t. It is simply one facet of what you do and does not define who you are. Take inventory of your own self-care before making any business to-do lists.
If you or someone you know is suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
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