If yours is one of the small businesses that survived the first few months of the COVID-19 crisis, consider yourself lucky. Online directory Yelp reported that 60% of businesses that closed between March and August of this year would not be re-opening. That accounts for nearly 100,000 small businesses that have had to shut down. Another study found that one-in-five businesses will have to close permanently if the economy doesn’t improve in the next five months.
Small business owners face an unprecedented level of stress and feelings of uncertainty during this pandemic. They don’t have the same amount of resources as larger corporations, and they have more credit constraints. For this reason, small business owners have to be creative and be in survival mode as they navigate the COVID-19 crisis. Being in constant survival mode can be harmful to one’s health because it can cause one’s mental health to deteriorate and take a toll on our physical, emotional, and social health. If business owners want to see their companies survive these hard times, they need to take care of themselves as well. Here are some pointers for small business owners to protect their mental health and well-being this 2020.
Stick to your working schedule.
It’s crucial to set healthy boundaries between your work life and your personal life. It can be tempting to keep working even on the weekends or during your days off to make sure that everything is going according to plan. But constantly hovering in your workspace, the store, or your employees won’t change the reality of the situation. We will still be in a global recession regardless of whether you work on your days off or not. Work hard and be present during office hours or shifts, but rest when it’s time to rest. The challenges that come with the work will still be there when you wake up.
Don’t neglect proper sleep hygiene.
Studies show that the long-term effects of sleep deprivation include:
- A negative impact on short-term and long-term memory
- Difficulty with concentration and thinking
- Abrupt and extreme mood changes
- Accidents and injuries
- A much weaker immune system
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain
- Higher risk for diabetes
- Poor sense of balance
- Low sex drive
- Risk of heart disease
If you want to run your business for a long time, don’t neglect proper sleep. Get at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night—your body will thank you for it in the long run.
Don’t let fear paralyze you.
You don’t need to be putting out fires every hour of every day or spend every waking day anticipating the worst that could happen. Yes, we are still in the middle of a recession, but constantly agonizing about everything else that could go wrong in the coming days can paralyze you and impair your judgment. If you look at small businesses that managed to survive this pandemic, they were able to pivot and adjust as situations changed. Don’t let the fear incapacitate you from moving. Observe the trends and experts’ recommendations and guidelines for small businesses, and adjust from there.
Ask for help with the financial tasks.
No man is an island, even more so in a year like 2020. You don’t need to carry the financial burden alone—ask someone you trust and who has a high level of financial literacy to help you look over the company’s financial situation and even your own. You don’t need to look at the numbers alone; looking at your business’s balance sheets and financial statements on top of your own expenses like your house mortgage and monthly utilities can be understandably overwhelming. It can be tempting to keep the financial aspect close to your chest, especially in a recession, but it can’t hurt to ask an expert for help in this area.
Don’t hesitate to talk about your struggles.
A study conducted by UCLA suggests that putting your feelings into words, also called “affect labeling,” can significantly reduce the stress you feel over a difficult situation. It’s no wonder most therapy and counseling involve talking; it’s our first line of defense against difficult emotions. But to be able to talk about it, we need to stop invalidating how we feel. We need to be honest about how the pandemic and recession are affecting us at an emotional level, and we need to be able to put into words how we’re truly feeling. Talk it out with someone you trust or with a mental health professional.
Don’t Give Up
No one could have foreseen how 2020 would play out. Times are tough, but with grit and help from people who love us, we can overcome anything. When you fight for your small business, you do your part in fighting for the economy, too.