Your emotional wellbeing survival guide
As small business owners, we’re used to wearing multiple hats; we are the HR manager, the accountant, the sales and marketing director; we make the products, we deliver the services, we make the tea.
The Coronavirus pandemic has placed an additional demand on our superhuman shape-shifting abilities. As well as that of “business owner”, we are now required to don the guise of “school teacher”, “carer”, “master baker” to name a few – spandex costumes optional.
With this extra weight on our shoulders, dedicating time and attention to our emotional wellbeing has never been more vital. Mental health is the lynchpin for fulfilling and sustaining all of these roles. It gives us the strength, energy, optimism and resilience to keep going. Therefore, at uncertain times such as these, it is vital to keep the principles for emotional wellbeing top of mind.
Five Ways to Wellbeing The Five Ways to Wellbeing approach was originally developed by the New Economics Foundation in 2008 and has since formed the basis for mental health initiatives worldwide.
These five steps to improving mental health and wellbeing provide a valuable foundation for business owners, start-ups and freelancers feeling the demands of what we are being told to accept as “the new normal”.
Let’s get started:
1. Connect with others
Human connections are a vital business resource that is well worth the investment of time. As highlighted in my previous blog “Channelling creativity”, when you’re without colleagues a business buddy can act as a sounding board for discussing and testing ideas, but also as an empathetic ear for sharing frustrations.
Connecting with others can also take the form of collaboration. Partnering with a business that complements your company or (deep breath) competes with your business on a project for mutual growth and gain is hugely rewarding and motivating.
And there are many virtual channels open to you to make these connections – from video networking, webinars and online courses to expanding your network via industry directories, social media and LinkedIn. Now, proudly don your most colourful hat, introduce yourself and keep the lines of communication open.
2. Be active
Regular physical activity has been proven to enhance your mood, so why is it so difficult to get going or to find time in the day to dedicate to it? One word, guilt.
“How can I possibly walk the dog/go for a run/do an at-home dance workout when I have a business to run?” I hear you ask. “By building it into your workday routine and adding it to your “to-do” list”, I reply.
Plus, there are tangible business benefits (not to mention the health and fitness benefits). Physical activity allows you to gain perspective; you are getting physical space from a work-related issue and time to develop new solutions. Similarly, exercise involves setting goals or facing challenges and achieving them through dedication and steady improvement – skills practiced daily as a small business owner.
3. Learn new skills
In my very first blog in the Business in the Times of Corona series, I explored how to diversify your business in this drastically changed environment with one of the primary ways being to learn new skills.
With temporary closures, reduced operations or projects coming to an end, now is the time to take advantage of any extra time on your hands to upskill.
Expanding your understanding in your industry or exploring new areas of interest through learning gives you a sense of purpose and achievement, thereby enhancing self-confidence and self-esteem. And, as well as adding an extra feather to your cap, enrolling on an online course or webinar series is a great way to meet new people and make new connections.
4. Give to others
Giving is good for you. Acts of giving and kindness have a physiological effect; they boost your brain with endorphins, resulting in a feel-good “high”, and flood your body with oxytocin, lowering stress and heightening feelings of connection with others.
Your experience as an entrepreneur and a business owner is your gift. It is invaluable insight for start-ups and fledgling businesses, so share it with them.
Giving also involves gratitude. A simple thank you to family members for supporting (putting up with) you, to employees for their continued commitment and hard work, to your business buddy for their time (and their shoulder), or to your customers and clients for their loyalty is an act of kindness that cannot be underestimated.
5. Be present
Being present involves actively taking note of the moment in which you exist now. This practice is also known as mindfulness – an almost meditative state that centres the mind and the senses in the present.
Being present prevents the mind from wandering, whether worrying about the future or fixating on the past. In times such as these when we may feel powerless and that the future is an unknown beyond our control, mindfulness helps us to identify what we can achieve now and to approach tasks one at a time. It provides a sense of grounding, builds resilience when overcoming challenges and prevents feelings of being overwhelmed.
6. Be kind
I’ve added a sixth step to improving emotional wellbeing – be kind to yourself. This may be interpreted more as platitude than sentiment thanks to its popularity on social media, but I think it serves as an important reminder to us all.
You do not need to emerge from the coronavirus lockdown one chapter away from completing your novel, one plank jack away from six-pack abs, having composed a one-woman play nor having mastered the perfect sourdough – all while having maintained a successful business, of course. If you emerge a little hairer, a little greyer, a little rounder and – most likely – a little wiser, that’s a huge win. You emerged.
Being kind to yourself involves listening and responding to your emotional wellbeing – nurture your mental health. It also involves giving yourself time, being patient, acknowledging your achievements (no matter how small) and showing compassion when you’re struggling.
Whether start-up or established small business, MENTA offers advice and information for business owners in Norfolk and Suffolk through remote one-to-one sessions with experienced coaches. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange yours today.
For more from our “Business in the times of Corona” blog series and other content here
About the author: Lucinda is a seasoned communication specialist and owner of Bird Media, a marketing and communications agency specialising in PR strategy, content writing, graphic and website design, and brand development. Find her on LinkedIn - linkedin.com/in/lucinda-sloane