Running your own business comes with its stresses and strains, but for many entrepreneurs at the moment, there is a significant additional stressor; Coronavirus anxiety.

There’s no doubt about it, it’s a really difficult time for humanity as our world continues to be shaken by the impact of Covid-19; it’s confusing, distressing and deeply upsetting.

If, like me, you are also struggling to maintain your mental well-being at this time, you are probably finding it really overwhelming trying running your business too. How can we even begin to work on our business at this time of uncertainty and anxiety? Hopefully this blog will help.

First of all, let’s look at why Coronavirus is having such a profound impact on us.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

The father of humanistic psychology is Abraham Maslow, best known for his work on creating the ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’ and we need to look at this hierarchy to understand why we are struggling so much with Coronavirus anxiety.

Maslow believed that human beings are motivated to achieve specific needs according to the hierarchy, such as a need for a safe home, the need for food, the need for friendship etc. Once your primary needs are met, you are motivated to achieve more on the higher levels of the hierarchy, before eventually reaching self-actualisation, although not everyone will reach this peak.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Throughout the trials and tribulations of life, such as divorce, redundancy, mental illness etc. it’s likely you would move fluidly between tiers – it is not a prescriptive one tier after another, but gives a guideline for your hierarchy of needs.

When some, or all, of our basic needs aren’t met, as they most likely aren’t at the moment, we will find it hard to be motivated to move up tiers on the hierarchy until those needs are fulfilled.

Our basic human needs across 3 tiers of the hierarchy aren’t being met due to Coronavirus anxiety, and this is why:

  • Disturbed sleep due to stress and worry
  • Anxiety about our own health and that of our family and loved ones
  • Lack of social contact and interaction
  • Job loss and instability
  • Impact on business and livelihood – losing clients, premises etc.
  • Fear and worry about losing home – inability to pay rent/mortgage and bills
  • Lack of intimacy due to stress
  • Panic buying/hoarding has made it difficult to find basic food types (and toilet roll!)
  • Stressful shopping experiences, or difficulty booking shopping deliveries – unable to source food
  • Deep fear and dread perpetuated by the media

This is why it’s so hard to do anything at the moment, other than using all of our energy ensuring we have our basic needs met. And yet we are still expecting ourselves to excel in business; solving problems, setting goals, focusing on our marketing, recording videos and all the other activities we think we *should* be doing. There is a lot of pressure to be in the arena right now and I’ve definitely struggled with FOMO as I see other business owners ramping up their activities.

You may also:

  • Be home educating your children
  • Be looking after someone (a carer)
  • Have a part-time job as a key worker
  • Be helping relatives/neighbours with shopping etc.

It is no wonder you’re experiencing anxiety at the moment. The first thing to do is to give yourself a break and STOP berating yourself. You are doing the best you can in an unprecedented situation.

Looking after your mental and physical health

Your main priority right now is your health. Remember the mantra ‘Body Before Business’. Without a fully functioning you, all areas of your life will become more difficult to manage.

Here are some ways to look after yourself:

  • Keep stable – If you are taking medication, continue to take it. Now is not the time to make any changes.
  • Keep a regular wake/sleep routine – try and aim for at least 7 hours sleep each night and set your alarm for the same time each morning
  • Eat 3 meals a day – plan meals to ensure your nutritional needs are met and eat healthy snacks to keep your energy up throughout the day. As difficult as it may be, try and avoid comfort eating
  • Avoid alcohol – it decreases your sleep quality and increases anxiety. Read this article about why you shouldn’t drink during self-isolation
  • Practice radical self-care and compassion – be really gentle with yourself and up any spiritual practices you might have, such as meditation. If you feel too restless to meditate, this article may help
  • Exercise – if you don’t feel motivated, just start with a few minutes here and there. Do knee lifts when you’re waiting for the kettle to boil or star jumps when you’re waiting for something to finish cooking in the oven
  • Ask for help – this might mean phoning your GP, getting emergency mental health support, face-timing a friend or speaking to your partner at home
  • Filter what you let in – news is abundant…it’s everywhere, but limit the amount of time you spend reading/watching it. Allow yourself no more than 10 minutes a day from a reputable source to catch up on the news; it’s important to be aware and prepared, but you don’t want to get drawn in to click-bait headlines
  • Keep in touch with your business colleagues and friends – many of the national business networking events are now taking place online over Zoom. Join relevant Facebook groups for online networking and support. You can join the Calmpreneur group here.
  • Write it down – whilst journalling might not be top of your agenda, it can be a really useful activity to organise your thoughts and get the stuff that’s in your head out and down on paper
  • Take it day by day – as much as you can, try and avoid rumination. Over-thinking is a typical symptom of anxiety as we are anticipating what might happen and worrying about the future. If you notice yourself doing this, press the ‘pause’ button on your thought and breathe into it as you consider what, if anything, you’re able to do about it? If it is something not in your control, let it go. If it is within your control, write down your options.
  • Safe, not stuck – it can feel like you are trapped in your home, so it’s worth re-framing some of your thoughts and being aware of the language you’re using. Whilst you are in your home, you are safe and secure.
  • Bring the outside in – nature has been a huge help to me in reducing anxiety and as we are limited on the time we can spend outdoors due to lockdown, it’s well worth considering what you can do to bring nature into your home to help calm and ground you.

Focus on what your CAN do

When Coronavirus anxiety is heightened, it feels like everything is completely out of your control, so it’s vital that your focus stays on all the things that are in your control. There are probably a lot of things that you feel unable to do in your business, or can’t do at the moment for practical/logistical reasons, but likewise there will be things that you can do.

Things you can do in your business:

  • Spending time De-cluttering your physical work-space and digital clutter
  • Get practical Covid-19 support for your business from the Government
  • Setting boundaries and expectations around your impacted routine
  • Keeping up to date with your accounts
  • Catching up with emails
  • Listening to inspiring podcasts
  • Completing the training courses you purchased but didn’t finish

Bear in mind that you might not be able to do any of this right now, and that’s OK too. Even if you just reply to one email today, that’s great! Coping with this difficult time is about doing what you can, when you can, always with your well-being at the top of you to-do list.

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Do you have any tips on getting through Coronavirus anxiety and running a business? Please comment below.

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