Tips for women entrepreneurs to deal with stress caused by the global pandemic

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World Mental Health Day (10 October) aims at raising awareness of mental health issues globally and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health. The occasion provides an opportunity to highlight what can be done to make mental healthcare a reality.

How are women entrepreneurs dealing with the stress caused by the global pandemic? COVID-19 is unique and it has had a severe impact on business. It has indeed, caused a shock to the global economic system, and it has disproportionately affected women entrepreneurs as they look after smaller, younger businesses. The uncertainty and lack of control have given rise to mental health issues too. Besides coping with the anxiety of business continuity, women entrepreneurs have to deal with panic attacks, as mental health experts have observed, for they have to manage not only their employees, but their own families too.

Here are some mental health tips for entrepreneurs to keep in mind during their stress and feelings of isolation.

• Build a supportive circle around you: Being an entrepreneur and running your own business can be very rewarding, but for many small business owners, being solely responsible for the company’s success or failure can take its toll. Entrepreneurship can be lonely, especially when you work with small teams which can make you more stressed; and the work pressures are high which can lead to poor health. That’s why it’s important to connect with people around you or build a community – to get that support network you need. This sense of connectedness is essential for psychological well-being. Human beings are social creatures, and person-to-person contact can relive tension and stress.

• Keep your brain activity alive: While you might feel much stressed, and find it really hard to keep things moving during this time, it’s still important to take a break from work and exercise your brain. You can get involved in activities reading, for example. It has a number of mental benefits. Researchers have found that the reading experience increases blood flow to the areas of the brain associated with focusing on tasks. Vocabulary games like word quizzes, word scramble or Scrabble are also a great way to exercise your mind. If you are not into words, jigsaw puzzles improve perception, constructional praxis, mental rotation, speed, flexibility, working memory, reasoning, and episodic memory. Learning a new skill improves memory, and listening to music inspires creativity too.

• Maintain a healthy diet: The mental health and physical health is affected by what we eat. Our food intake has an effect  both mentally and physically. So, it’s important for entrepreneurs to be conscious of what they eat and how it affects their mental health. A healthy diet can go a long way and help prevent cognitive impairment and depression. Researchers have revealed that eating high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from stress. 

• Explore therapy, if required: While therapy may have been taboo in the past, it’s now embraced as a key component to mental wellness for everyone. Today, people are more open to therapy and most find it effective. If you do develop a problem, try to find a counselor, or ask your network of friends or business acquaintances for recommendations. Today, it is possible to do this, and you have to make sure it’s a good fit, because you want to find the therapist who is right for you.

• Separate professional and personal life: When you’re working from home, which has become the new normal now, it’s hard to separate work life from home life.  It’s important to find ways to separate the two, no matter how impossible that may seem. Many research studies have proved that context influences our behavior, and environments spark mental cues for habits and emotions associated with that space. You should be aware of when it’s time to sign off, leave and enter the personal side of life.

Even though most of us are stuck at home, that doesn’t mean you need to be on 24/7 — that’s the quickest way to a burnout!!! Create a schedule for yourself and stick to it, and it doesn’t have to be the same as your pre-pandemic schedule. These are unique times, so you can make a unique schedule as you see fit. More importantly, communicate that schedule — to everyone: customers, family, vendors, friends, etc.

And, finally, take it easy.  
Today, you might be reading a lot about mental health and business advice telling you what you should be doing, but the truth is, you need to do what’s best for you!

While all businesses must balance their business models in times of massive change, simultaneously reducing risk and seizing new opportunities, this is particularly difficult for women entrepreneurs, whose businesses are concentrated in the industry sectors most severely affected by the economic shutdown. So, it is important to take care of yourself and stay healthy as a small business owner, so you can stay on top of your business’ demands as much as possible!!

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