There are some wonderful case studies from business owners on how they are coping (and sometimes thriving!) during the Covid-19 pandemic. Equally, we know that it’s OK to ‘have a wobble’ and not feel guilty about it.
We’ve teamed up with two key business partners to produce 3 blogs on Mental Health and Wellbeing for business owners and employees during lockdown. We’re delighted to be working with Candid HR who are experts in the technical side of things that we need to be mindful of when it comes to our people in the workplace; and Jane Keogh who is a success coach to help provide our clients and contacts with some tips on managing wellbeing during these different times.
In this first article, we focus on Business Owners who are, at present, managing in a state of high alert. We hope you find it useful.
Putting your own oxygen mask on first
As business owners, it’s imperative that you look after your own health and wellbeing so you are fit and healthy to support your employees. Leading by example is always best so make sure you take that lunch break, make time to exercise, ideally getting fresh air every day, drink plenty of water and eat a healthy balanced diet. If you can, practice relaxation in the way that suits you best in down time. Below we’ve summarised the ways you can look after yourself so you are best placed to look after others.
Exercise is so important for many reasons and has a positive impact on both your physical and mental health. It helps you to sleep; increases your energy levels; releases mood boosting hormones such as endorphins, which trigger positive feelings. Getting the balance right is essential because exercising too much can be addictive and become a form of distraction.
Breaks are essential and taking short regular breaks can increase productivity, creativity, improve mental wellbeing, restore motivation and focus and prevent indecision. You will find that you will work more effectively in working short bursts, interspersed with breaks and always tackle the biggest things first thing in the morning, when you are likely to be more alert. And as tempting as it may be- don’t use your break to do household chores! Have a proper break.
The brain is around 73% water- it is therefore essential to stay hydrated to keep it functioning well. A lack of water can effect your mood making you more agitated than normal. We can feel more tired, have headaches, lose concentration and because water helps flush toxins from the body it can impact our immune system. Dehydration also causes sugar cravings which we know is bad for our diets as well as the inevitable sugar slump which follows the sugar high. It sounds obvious but really think about ‘you are what you eat.’ And it is easy to get into bad habits when the temptations are just a few footsteps away!
Try to vary tasks with non-IT tasks and use this time to reflect on the way you carry out your daily tasks and the business operation. You may never get this time and space again to do this so use the opportunity. Don’t fall into the trap of overworking just because you can.
Trying to replicate your usual routine is likely to be unrealistic. You may have a house full now; expectations around home schooling; or have caring responsibilities now in terms of getting essentials to an elderly relative. Trying to replicate the norm will become frustrating when it doesn’t happen. Therefore, create a routine that is realistic in your new norm.
Routine is really important for adding structure to the day, as well as creating boundaries between work and life. Avoiding your ‘comfies’ and not working from bed- as tempting as it may be. The reason for this is it very quickly blurs the lines between your work life and home life as it all becomes too relaxed and difficult to differentiate. If you wear your usual attire, you can then get changed to relax once your working day has finished. It really does help to signify those boundaries.
Be kind to yourself and trust in others
Be kind to yourself and set your expectations at an achievable level. Remember you are doing just great balancing everything you are already doing. We are in unprecedented times, give yourself a break!
You will need to practice the same empathy skills in considering the stresses and emotions on your employees, as well as yourself. There will employees who are struggling to cope with work, families and caring responsibilities, whether working at home or otherwise. So be realistic in your expectations of employees working from home and avoid micro-management. Trust your employees and let them take control of their work from home, checking in from time to time. It is so important to maintain contact with your employees at this time as they will be experiencing a whole host of different problems, anxieties and insecurities. Make sure you have processes in place to keep in touch with them on a regular basis and keep them informed of any changes. It will be helpful to promote and support requests for flexible working for employees, particularly those with children and other dependants
Use your network well
Whilst working or networking, even remotely, having contact with your own business colleagues will be a great way to share experiences and to support and learn from each other. There are lots of free resources to tap into such as webinars and virtual lunch hours to stay connected and focus on your wellbeing. These are also great options for if you are isolating alone. Take a look to see what’s available; and it’s even better right now because there are no geographical restrictions! It is a great way to stay connected, and as humans connecting with others is something that we need. Of course we are connecting to the people we are sharing a home with, but who we are at work is very much a big part of our identity so work to keep that identity.
Meaningful social connection is essential for people to thrive, it improves mental and physical wellbeing, strengths the immune systems and lowers rates of anxiety and depression. Human beings have a psychological need for a sense of belonging.
Keep yourself safe and healthy so you are best placed to help others. Take regular breaks, drink lots of water and make the most of your new routine. Keep communicating with your family, your network and your team- trust in your team to get the job done until they give you a reason not to. Plan ahead, stay positive and you will lead the way.