I have been in business since 1984 and in those many years, which ages me, I have owed several businesses at the same time. And looking back at how I handled the stress I have applied during this pandemic of a virus. So, what I am about to write and share with you is based on my own experience. The mental stress that we all have gone through has been heavy on our shoulders, not knowing what will happen, being under lockdown and shutting down businesses that created a panic and is creating even greater mental stress.
Being on the brink of losing everything that one has built is a cause created by government, not the virus. Mismanagement of states and local governments has created a situation where they are forcing businesses to close, with no help from the government to allow them to survive. The mental stress is huge for small business owners.
But the question is how are we dealing with it?
At one point in time I was handling several businesses at the same time. I had a large tax and business consulting practice in Los Angeles, a nursing review school in the Philippines, and a healthcare staffing firm in Los Angeles. To be honest I was juggling too many things at one time and I had to find a way to call my mind. So, what did I do?
First, I found someone I could talk to. My business partner at the time was busy with his clients, he was not available to talk to. So, I found a person who had been in business for way longer than me to talk to. He had been through it all before. I would talk with him about once a week for about an hour and I was given the experience and time of a person who had gone through everything I was going through. During this pandemic find a person you can talk to. It is vital for you to be able to talk with an individual, get things off your chest. Get some fresh ideas. We are social creatures, and we need that time with other humans to talk. Find a mentor, advisor, priest, member of the clergy, a friend, a business owner you can talk to. But find a voice so you can have a voice during a tough time.
Second, I decided to get up and do something different. Travel at that time was an outlet, mini vacations of one or two days just to put the phone down and get in the car and go. You would be surprised that my drives from Los Angeles to San Francisco up the coastline on the 101 was the best therapy ever. In the lockdown period we experienced I could not use the mini vacation therapy, so I decided to do something different. I learned how to cook and bake. I studied every single YouTube video I could watch on how to cook. That one hour a day that I spent in the kitchen turned off the news, the work, the stress, and I cooked. I found an outlet and it worked. I had the best lockdown ever and I handled the unknowns by focusing on what I needed to do and took the time off to get a breath of fresh stimulus (food and bread).
Third, I got involved in groups. You would be surprised at how many groups are out there on the world wide web taking on various issues in business. I found groups that were doing things in podcasting, writing, using social media for business. I heard their stories and we talked about various things to continue the focus on new things for our businesses. During the lockdown I wrote two books and got them on Amazon. I began working on my podcasts and its distribution.
Fourth, the most rewarding thing that I did during the pandemic and lockdowns worldwide was to talk to those hurting and confused. I found out that many overseas foreign workers that were working in Dubai were in real trouble. They needed someone to talk to. Nurses and healthcare staff were working in medical facilities that provided housing for them; however, they did not think how that affected the health safety of the staff all living together. They were coming into contact with patients that had tested positive for Corvid, but no one told the staff. Then the staff who had just worked with the infected staff would go home to their housing unit, an apartment with about four people in it, and would bring the infection into the apartment. This created a panic because they did not know which one of their housemates had been exposed. I worked with the healthcare staff and came up with a housing protocol that started outside the door of the apartment and into the apartment so that it would limit the contamination. I took their phone calls at night, heard their fears. Many had lost their salaries; they were working full time, but their pay was cut in half. Yet they were being exposed on a daily basis, so their fears and frustrations were running high. Several days I offered a service where they could zoom into me and we would talk for 30 minutes. They were provided an outlet to let all their stress and frustrations out.
So these four things I did reduced my stress because I kept myself busy doing new things in life that I had never done before. The same practice I had used when running so many businesses, learning new things, talking to professionals in business, joining different groups, and trying to outlets, reduced my stress in my business history and worked during this pandemic. The busier I made myself the more involved I became; my business stress was reduced. The business stress was there but I looked at it with a fresh mind and approach.
Everyone in business has to go through a crisis at some point in their business lives. Why? Because it tells us how well you will do in handling a business Now some of you have lost your businesses, but you can rebuild. Don't ever give up on your business ideas, keep going. You learned from the crisis and now you know what you have to do to survive the next one, and there will be a next one. I have been through a business crisis where I thought it would never end. Just remember, a crisis is just and event and all events end.
I hope that this helps some of you still dealing with the business stress. It worked for me, but we are all different. But the most important aspect is to find an outlet to talk to other people. Just that one simple act can get you through anything. As I have said before, we are these humans that need other humans. Let me know if you have any questions, you can text me at my office at 818.252.5682
Mental health is a growing issues in small businesses, but it can be managed by everyone working together. If you need to talk - let me know.
Let us start 2021 with a new mental picture of what we can do to do great things in our business and personal lives. Happy New Year!
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Michael Lodge is a Nationally Certified Professional Mediator specializing in business disputes, as well as family conflicts. He has written three books and hosts an international podcast on IHeartRadio and other podcast media stations.