Prioritising your mental health in trying times

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented significant challenges to business leaders here and globally. The pressure of trying to keep the business afloat can take its toll.

While it’s important to push through these trying times, it’s essential to take care of your mental health and wellbeing. There are four key things small-business owners, managers, and leaders should prioritise and consider to keep their mental health in check:

  1. Take a step back and hit the pause button
    When you are distressed, you are emotionally blind with your perception and bias that you often lose sight of the bigger picture. This leads to impulsive decision making that may negatively impact your business.
    Take a step back and hit the pause button to regroup and reconnect with where you are and where you want to be. Ask yourself how you and your business are doing. What are your options? And what’s your ultimate goal?
    The only way to make good decisions is to have a clear mind, so be kind to yourself, take care of your sleep, watch your nutrition and increase physical exercise.
  2. Assess yourself and your business
    Most people tend to create more crises when they are in crisis – all to distract themselves from what they’re going through.
    To avoid this, be aware of the psychological mindset you are in at any given time – how are you communicating with others? How are others reacting to you? It’s natural to tend to project anger and frustration to others in difficult situations.
    Uncertainty in the business, the economy and what is happening next are all valid causes to impact your mental health and wellbeing.
    As hard as it is, remain calm and work with what you have here and now. Clear up your mind and come up with a game plan on how you and your business can respond. Assume responsibility for your own level of clarity.
  3. Monitor your coping mechanism
    Everyone has their own unique coping mechanism. A key question to ask yourself is how are you coping with your stress? Be aware of your thoughts and respond accordingly to help your mental state.
    People are inclined to engage in habits that provide short relief (euphoria) but these often have a longer-term negative effect such as drug and alcohol use, gambling and excessive (online) shopping especially in times of isolation.
    Look at what makes you capture a state of euphoria in a healthy and positive way. Be mindful of how you’re coping with these problems and how your decisions will affect the business.Find a coping mechanism that works for you and will positively impact your mental health. Consider trying something new and be flexible enough to assess if it’s working or not.
  4. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help
    Surround yourself with people that can provide you with good observation of your situation, can positively influence you and re-enforce you with a bigger picture.
    According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, although anxiety and depression can be as debilitating as a serious physical illness, less than 50 per cent experiencing these conditions seek help.
    Be open to the idea of seeking out professional help if you find it hard to stop worrying. You are not alone in this journey. There are resources and professionals to help make sense of your situation.

The uncertainty that comes with the new normal might have a significant impact on you and your business. This is why taking care of your mental health and wellbeing is now more important than ever. Know where to turn for support, don’t wait until it’s too late.

Dr. Frank Chow, Director and Psychiatrist, 2OPHealth

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