3 Strategies to Combat Pandemic Stress
This pandemic has catapulted many of us to take action. We wear face masks, we bump elbows, and we stay home. But for small business owners, it doesn’t stop there. You have an income-producing business to attend to, perhaps with employees who are counting on you. And there are the customers you serve.
It’s no wonder all these responsibilities can mount up to pandemic-level stress. That’s why it’s important to manage your stress, not just your business. Take a look at these strategies to see if one can help you better manage your stress during this pandemic.
Recognize You’re Not Alone
Everyone is reacting to extraordinary times. A recent Gallup study reports an unprecedented increase in the number of U.S. adults experiencing significant stress and worry on a daily basis. So give yourself a break—what you’re feeling is normal.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) lists these common symptoms of stress during an infectious disease outbreak: changes in sleeping patterns, difficulty concentrating, increased use of alcohol and drugs, worsening of chronic health conditions (physical and mental).
Stress is the body’s internal algorithm to solve a problem. Either you run from it or fight it. Recognizing that’s how we’re hardwired helps us to better manage how we react to stress. If you’d like some outside help, consult your healthcare provider. Small Business Trends also lists several online tools and apps aimed at managing stress during the pandemic.
Connect From A Distance
You might be social distancing but you don’t have to socially disconnect. Nearly 80% of American’s report close relationships provide emotional security and support. Not only do they validate your feelings but supporting others gives you a feeling of control and satisfaction.
For small business owners, that extends beyond family and friends to these groups:
- Employees – Connecting regularly with your current staff gives them an opportunity to voice concerns, ask questions and offer ideas you may not have considered. Connecting periodically with furloughed staff helps preserve a relationship that can be revived when business picks up again. Listening can be a powerful stress reducer, for you and them.
- Customers – Customer loyalty is a prized asset for businesses. Use your social media platforms to maintain it. Reassure customers you’re still out there by providing helpful tips. For example, a nursery could post a video demonstrating how to arrange plants in a pot. Reaching out in this way provides reassurance you’re taking steps to maintain your business.
- Suppliers – Connecting with suppliers helps you ramp back up. You’ll get a sense of what may/may not be available. That will help you better pivot to other products, if needed. Knowing you have a “Plan B” can help reduce the stress of uncertainty.
- Other Entrepreneurs – Network with your fellow business owners. You’ll find they are dealing with similar stressors. Plus you may get ideas and receive referrals. Interest groups on your social platforms are made for distance connecting. For example, Business News Daily offers their top 20 list of LinkedIn groups for small business owners.
Manage Your Information Inputs
Knowledge is king when it comes to managing stress, but only if it’s accurate. Misinformation is an epidemic in a COVID-19 environment so it’s important to rely on trusted sources when making decisions. Here are some key sources for small business:
- Small Business Administration (SBA) – Information on relief funding and workplace management
- Center for Disease Control (CDC) – Guidance on mitigating the virus in the workplace
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce – Resources to prepare for safe, sustainable reopening
- National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) – Webinars, funding sources, legal resources
- SCORE – Resource hub on restarting your business
Another key aspect is the amount of information you take in. Constant viewing of a 24/7 breaking news cycle can distort your focus. The World Health Organization encourages people to check news from reliable sources only once or twice a day.
Small business owners have a special brand of stress when it comes to dealing with the challenges presented by the COVID-19. You have to take care of business at home and in your company. Consider integrating these strategies into your coping plan to better manage pandemic stress.