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3 Tips to Reduce Anxiety and Stress for Small Business Owners

COVID-19 impacts us all. But as a small business owner, you face the added stress of trying to keep your business profitable in an extremely challenging economic environment.   

The list of responsibilities you face may feel overwhelming: paying employees, keeping up with rent, protecting employee safety, the stress of layoffs, long hours and, of course, a worry about the future of your business.  

However, the impact of the pandemic isn’t just economic – it also impacts your mental health. Business owners across the country are reporting high levels of stress. It can be easy to neglect your mental health when you’re hyper-focused on your business, but it is critical to keep it a priority. Poor mental health can impede your ability to work productively and make sound decisions, as well as your physical health.  

Managing this stress isn’t an easy solve, but here are three tips that may get you on the right path: 

1. Remember, and applaud, your successes.  

In times of difficulty, it can be easy to focus on the negative. That’s ok – it’s natural to feel sad, disappointed and angry when life throws you a huge, unexpected hurdle. But, it is a slippery slope – constant negativity can fuel a lack of productivity, and put you at a high risk of stress, anxiety and burnout.  

To try and de-escalate these thoughts, take a moment to recognize what’s gone right. Write down some of your successes (going as far back as you need to), or how you’ve surmounted challenges in the past. Keep this list handy, and when you’re stressed or down, take a look at it to remind you of all that you have accomplished. 

2. Look after yourself. 

When you’re overwhelmed and constantly dealing with fires, self-care often falls to the wayside. But we are in a marathon, not a sprint, so taking care of your mental and physical health must be a priority for you – and your business – to make it through.  

Here are a few practical tips: 

·             Try to maintain perspective – things will get better. 

·             Establish a daily routine that balances work and personal life as best as you can. 

·             Find ways to stay active, and if possible, get fresh air every day. 

·             Give yourself a COVID timeout by limiting news consumption. 

·             Consider relaxation techniques, like meditation or yoga. 

·             Try to eat healthy, balanced meals and get adequate sleep every night. 

·             Don’t isolate yourself – stay connected with friends and family. Even a 10-minute  chat with a friend can do wonders for our mood. 

3. Adapt for the future. 

Planning can seem impossible in such a period of uncertainty. But it’s safe to say that, for many businesses, things simply won’t be the same anymore. What worked in 2019 may no longer work in 2021. But, remember: change brings opportunities. (Though, they might not always be immediately obvious.)  

As a business owner, you’ve likely had to adapt many times to evolving market dynamics. Draw on those skills now, and think of ways you can adapt or modify your business and skill set to set yourself up for success post-pandemic. This could be enrolling in a training course, increasing your social media presence or launching an e-commerce platform. Reach out to other local business and swap tips, success stories and lessons learned. 

Be active – not just reactive. Take control of the things you can control right now, and make the positive changes you can. 

Maintaining your good mental health is critical – especially now, when stressors are through the roof. As your BIA, we wanted to ensure that you have resources if you need help. Consider:  

·       Your family physician or Family Health Team – they can make recommendations for help in your area.  

·       Crisis Services Canada at 1-833-456-4566, or the Government of Canada’s Mental Health Services Listings.  

·       Your provincial regulatory body to find a registered mental health professional (Psychologist, Social Worker or Registered Psychotherapist). You might start by searching College of Psychologists in Ontario, for example.  

We also wanted to make sure you were aware of a free program for all small business owners in Ontario during Covid-19. 

Mindbeacon is an online, personalized therapist-guided program to help you better cope with stress, anxiety and many other mental health issues. There are no appointments to keep and no waiting, so it works with your busy and unpredictable schedule. It’s guided 1:1 by a Registered Ontario Therapist securely and privately. 

And, best of all, right now the Government of Ontario is covering 100% of the cost of this program for all small business owners for a limited time during the pandemic. Click here for more details.   

Remember: If you ever find yourself in crisis, please phone 911 or visit your nearest hospital emergency room.  

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