It’s understandable to feel stressed right now. COVID-19 has seemingly turned the world on its head and everything feels up in the air.
The future of small business is at stake. Many businesses have been forced to close their doors with no reopening date in sight and no contingency plan. Others have adapted, but are still losing revenue. For those of you whose business is helping small businesses, this can and will affect you too. It’s imperative that we focus on supporting each other during this stressful time, not only as businesses, but also as people.
According to the CDC, stress can manifest itself in many ways, including worrying about your own or a loved one’s health, difficulty sleeping and concentrating, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, worsening of chronic health problems, and increased use of substances.
But your stress doesn’t need to turn into its own form of panic or paranoia. Fear can cause people to think irrationally, and that’s one of the worst things you can do right now.
So how can you keep a level head during the COVID-19 pandemic? Here are seven helpful tips to keep your stress levels down:
1. Keep your sources reliable
Stick to the facts directly from health organizations. The internet is great for spreading information quickly, but it’s also easy to get wrong information. Health Canada, US Department of Health & Human Services, or your country’s government equivalent are a source of accurate information. Understand the risk to yourself and those around you, and behave accordingly.
2. Be proactive
Sometimes anxiety makes people freeze up, but you’ll be less stressed if you’re well prepared. Make sure you have enough food and supplies to last you awhile (without hoarding). If you can arrange to have it delivered or pick it up curbside, even better. On the business side of things, make a plan to keep the ball rolling on all the hard work you’ve done to uplift small businesses. Offer to help small businesses adapt to this situation with social media strategies and ecommerce ideas.
3. Better to be safe than sorry
Yes, it adds to your workload to take extra precautions, like more frequent cleaning, but this way you can rest easy knowing that you’re doing what you can to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and keep yourself and those around you safe. If you can work from home, make arrangements to do so.
4. Rely on your support network and let them rely on you
It’s important to stay connected, even if you can’t physically be around friends, family, coworkers, or clients. Send a text to check in or set up a Google hangout for some face-to-face conversation. Need something? Maybe they can help or know of a resource that can assist you.
5. Keep a sense of routine and normalcy
Get up at a normal time, get dressed, eat as well as you can, and get enough rest while you’re based at home. Setting boundaries is also important. If you’re working from home, make sure you don’t let work extend into your evening hours and take some time to unwind. Also, to make things feel a bit more normal, you should turn off the news and avoid checking social media for at least a few hours every day. It’s hard to feel normal when you’re constantly reminded that things aren’t.
6. Practice self-care
Find an outlet for that stress. There are lots of great exercise and stretching videos online that will help you unwind. A little fresh air will serve you well - step onto your balcony, into your yard, or take a quick stroll around the block. Not able to move around? Read something, make art, meditate, breathe deeply, or take a bath. A mix of physical and emotional de-stressing activities is optimal.
7. Don’t compare
Your situation is not someone else’s situation. You will not handle this the exact same way as someone else. Everyone reacts differently to stress. There are a lot of different factors, like your job, income level, family situation, etc. that will affect how equipped you are to handle things. Do the best you can with your available resources.
Things are not perfect right now, but they never are. Both people and businesses alike are always coming up against challenges. This just happens to be one that everyone is trying to navigate together. All you can do is try your best.
In the chaos of it all, take time out of your day for yourself and de-stress. Make it an intentional thing. You are only one person and do not need to carry the weight of COVID-19 alone. Remember, you are part of both personal and professional communities who can support you. Do not let fear control you. Think smart, act smart.