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11.21.20 – Entrepreneur- Arash Derakhshan ENTREPRENEUR LEADERSHIP NETWORK CONTRIBUTOR Public Relations/Marketing and Brand Growth Expert

Your mind is your greatest business tool. Here’s how to keep it healthy in trying times.

Entrepreneurs are more stressed than ever before. A Canadian mental health study found that 62% of business owners felt depressed at least once a week, and 54% said that stress impacted their level of concentration at work. This study was conducted pre-covid, and we can only imagine how much the percentage has grown amidst the pandemic, especially now that we are facing a second wave. 

If you are an entrepreneur or a small business owner you have most likely invested a large chunk of your time into building your business. The unintentional result of this is that the performance of your business becomes largely responsible for your mental stability, feelings of fulfillment, and productivity in all other areas of your life. 

Most industries have experienced a stranglehold of sorts during this pandemic and we have all had to adapt to the swift change of circumstances, but the more we hold on, the more it seems this pandemic just won’t disappear as many had predicted. As we find ourselves amidst the second wave of this virus, it is even more necessary to take care of our mental health. Here’s how to do that:

1. Focus on the work, not the numbers

While some businesses have managed to strike gold during this pandemic and see an impressive rise in their bottom line, most entrepreneurs have been struggling. There is a very real temptation to obsess over your declining numbers and worry about how to get better results, but that is a recipe for mental health disaster. 

We do not know how long this pandemic and its restrictions will last, so there really is no reason to compare your pre-covid numbers to your present numbers. Things have changed and you may have to establish a new baseline by which you can evaluate your performance within the pandemic and then set up a strategy to increase it across the board. 

The key to finding balance is to focus on the day-to-day work you do for your business and to utilize every opportunity to make positive changes and tweaks.

Some business owners are using this time to learn new business-related skills. Some are rediscovering how to market to their customers during this time. These little positive steps are what you should focus on—not your stagnant or dwindling numbers.

2. Invest in creative outlets

Focusing on the work is great, but sometimes you need to invest in something not business-related to maintain your mental balance.  

Many entrepreneurs now have more time on their hands than they know what to do with. And in many cases, this fuels a feeling of unproductivity and unfulfillment—because again, they are comparing their levels of activity pre-COVID with their levels of activity mid-COVID.  

Creative activities give the mind a feeling of productivity and fulfillment. The second wave may be exasperating, but it also gives you time to knock off that creative project you have been putting off for a long time.

The exact creative activities that are soothing differ from person to person—a coloring book might be helpful or perhaps a woodworking project. The idea is to continue being productive even if the productivity isn’t plowing directly into your business. 

It is also pertinent at this time to maintain a “this too shall pass attitude.” The knowledge that you still have many years post-COVID to do productive business will greatly reduce your anxiety.

3. Journal out your frustrations

You don’t need to write a new york times bestseller, you only need to write consistently about your experiences during this pandemic. Experts have noted that Journaling is a kind of therapy because it allows you to express your deepest feelings and frustrations, albeit on paper. 

Journals are a way to keep tabs on your emotions. You can also identify patterns that signify deeper mental health problems and work to address them. 

The anxiety that we all have dealt with during this period is palpable, real, and can have devastating consequences. This should not be taken for granted. Journaling is one way to cure a restless mind and become more productive.

4. Don’t dismiss therapy

Many people find that they can manage high levels of anxiety by applying all the above steps, exercising regularly, and spending time with family and friends. However, in some cases, these strategies don’t ease the anxiety entrepreneurs feel from the struggles of their business. 

This may signal that too much of their self-worth is tied to their business, and that’s a sign they might benefit from therapy with a mental health professional. There shouldn’t be any stigma to getting help. Just as anyone can develop a physical illness and need treatment, anyone can develop a mental health crisis and need treatment.

We have no clue when this pandemic will end, but we do know it will end. Until then, we need to take care of our greatest tool for business: our mind.