February 23, 2021 8 min read
The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur’s contributors are their own.
How did you feel when you woke up this morning? Are you tired? A little scared? Depressed? Or did you just feel a little numb and unmotivated?
Covid-19, the recent riots on Capitol Hill and the associated economic downturn have hit us all, especially entrepreneurs and small business owners, hard. The US is experiencing levels of uncertainty and stress unlike anything we have ever seen in our lives.
Stress is a normal part of life. It only becomes a problem when there is too much and you can no longer manage it – then it can affect your physical and mental wellbeing.
The physiological response to stress activates the notorious fight or flight response, also known as the “amygdala hijack”. The heart races, the breath quickened, and the muscles tense as the body prepares for action. It can also affect your conscious brain and cause difficulty in making good decisions. While this evolutionary standard was designed to protect us in an emergency, it can become problematic if it lasts too long.
At first, you may not notice physical symptoms of stress, such as the occasional headache, difficulty sleeping, or digestive problems. Or maybe you just feel a little more anxious than usual or have trouble concentrating. However, if it lasts for a long time, these negative effects can affect your work as your productivity decreases. For ambitious people like entrepreneurs, this can affect not only your business but your life as well, adding to your stress levels
The stress you are feeling right now is likely to affect your employees as well. They may be more prone to leaving their jobs and if they stay it can affect their performance. A study by the University of Warwick found that employees who were happier saw a 12% increase in productivity, while unhappy employees were 10% less productive – confirming that employee wellbeing is not only right for them, but that too right for your company.
Related Topics: How A Healthy Workforce Can Increase Your Business Profits
On the way to greater wellbeing
Wellbeing is a relatively straightforward term for the rather complicated topic of feeling good or positive about your life. How it looks for each of us is as different as we are. However, there are certain basic elements that can improve our feelings and general wellbeing:
A recent Yale study showed that deep breathing is one of the most effective ways to manage stress and stress-related conditions. By inducing the relaxation response of the parasympathetic nervous system, it helps shut down your body’s tendency to fight or flight, which directly affects stress, mood, and conscientiousness. More interestingly, this study was even stronger three months later.
Action: Experiment with your breathing to reduce stress. Inhaling speeds your heart rate, while exhaling slows it down. If you feel stressed or agitated, try to slow your breath and exhale longer.
Food as medicine
The saying “you are what you eat” has never been truer. The food you consume fundamentally affects how you feel and experience life. Are you wondering how do you feel after a big meal? Or an evening with too much drinking? Or too much caffeine?
There is a chance that at some point you have had a hangover after eating or drinking alcohol. This also affects your mental wellbeing. Excessive amounts of sugar can make you feel more anxious or depressed, while alcohol, a depressant, can also make you feel more stressed.
Stress can also cause digestive problems and affect bowel health, which is directly related to your psychological wellbeing. This is not surprising since ninety percent of serotonin receptors, the main hormone that stabilizes your mood, wellbeing, and happiness, are in the gut. This makes your diet and gut health a crucial part of how you feel.
Action: To maintain good gut and overall health, eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables while reducing sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.
The benefits of exercise for physical and mental wellbeing have been documented in countless studies. Regular exercise helps reduce anxiety and depression by releasing endorphins, a natural cannabis-like brain chemical, as well as other natural brain chemicals that increase your well-being. It can also help distract you and distract you from the negative thoughts that can lead to more persistent depression or anxiety.
Laughter therapy has also been found to have positive results for depression, insomnia, and sleep quality. And while it may feel like there’s little to laugh about these days, watching your favorite comedy can help. Maybe even better, use one of the growing apps to watch with friends and get the added benefit of connecting with others.
Action: Make exercise a part of your day, whether it’s a stroll outdoors or doing push-ups between calls. And bring laughter to your day, whether it’s a movie on Netflix or a Zoom call with your friends.
Related: Importance of Physical Wellbeing During This Lockdown
Connection / relationships
COVID has forced us all to redefine what connection and coming together mean. With the help of digital platforms such as Zoom, FaceTime and Skype, colleagues, friends and relatives could still “come together” online.
The pandemic has also challenged us in ways that we may not even realize. Our days no longer have the fortuitous opportunities for kind action that were once an integral but often overlooked part of our days. Research shows that the simple act of giving and being kind to others increases our joy and positive emotions.
Action: Make a conscious effort to find ways to serve others. Reach out to groups to virtually volunteer. Reach out to friends and coworkers who may need assistance and / or find ways to add more kindness to others to your day. You will be surprised how much better you are feeling.
Sleep deprivation has often been viewed as a badge of honor in our society, as proof of how hard you work. The truth is you may work harder but you are likely to achieve less. Aside from the general drowsiness and the possibility of you nodding off on your Zoom call, lack of sleep has been shown to affect your thinking, decision-making, and performance.
Scientists have also found that sleep disorders affect levels of neurotransmitters and stress hormones, destroy the brain, impair emotional regulation, and possibly lead to increased stress or anxiety that you may already be feeling.
Measure: To improve sleep, reduce caffeine and alcohol consumption, exercise more, and keep good sleep habits in mind, e.g. For example, follow a regular sleep-wake schedule, turn off appliances at least an hour before bed, and keep the bedroom dark and free from distractions, such as your computer or television.
It’s okay to feel wrong
This is an unprecedented and difficult time, and it’s okay to feel wrong. These are just a few suggestions for dealing with the stress and anxiety that occurs naturally. It is important to realize how you are feeling and to ask for additional help if you need it.
If you’re unsure what to do or where to start, the first thing to do is ask your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). If you don’t have one, check with your insurer to see what your mental health benefits cover. And if you don’t have insurance, Google offers “free or low-cost mental health services”.
There are also many local and national organizations working to improve mental health care to get involved and learn more about how you can better support yourself and your community. The Well Being Trust recently hosted a Virtual Day of Service event to discuss the importance of becoming a mental health attorney – and more importantly, how to do it.
It is strong to ask for help. It can’t be easy. It can feel uncomfortable. You might think that you should be able to handle this on your own. But the truth is, we all need help at some point. And when you ask, you are not only promoting your own well-being, you are giving permission for others to do the same.
Related Topics: Does Your Business Include These Employee Wellbeing Trends?