The holistic picture: An entrepreneur’s guide to mental and physical wellness during the pandemic
With COVID-19 completely reshaping the world around us, there is a lot of interest in how organisations deal with the disruption. Business leaders field frequent questions about the measures they feel are needed to ensure business continuity and counter the pandemic’s impact.
An honest answer would be: we do not have the first clue.
We are, after all, living through an unprecedented, once-in-a-lifetime event. There are no playbooks, no precedents for something of this magnitude. Even prior pandemics, such as the Spanish Flu, or the more recent scares, such as the swine flu outbreak, did not have such a drastic impact on human society.
More importantly, we were not prepared for its duration. In March, we hoped for maybe a month or two of social isolation, at most. By the end of October, locked down for more than six months, we do not know if we will return to a pre-COVID-19 normal by the coming year.
But, while uncertainty rages all around, business leaders cannot afford to be ignorant by the very definition of their role. To ensure that their business survives, they must be prudent and prepare for a time beyond the turbulence to continue with flexibility, agility, and adaptability.
Here, the entrepreneurial mindset has come to the fore and reflects in the different tech-led interventions and solutions that have been introduced to address the social distancing challenges.
From cloud-based workspaces and digital connectivity tools to remote working and staggered, rotational shifts, they are trying their best to minimise any impact on their business.
It is important to remember, though, that entrepreneurs and business leaders are only human. While they may have different methods to deal with stress, they are vulnerable to the pressures of their positions.
Drawing on my own experiences during the pandemic, here are a few things that have helped me strike the right balance between my wellbeing and that of my business:
A consistent fitness regime
With gyms shut down and social distancing becoming the norm, the pandemic has forced many people to give up physical workouts. This is doubly harmful; you are undoing the effort you have put in over an extended duration and leaving yourself more vulnerable to stress and depression.
Regular physical activity of any kind has a range of positive effects on our body, both physiological and psychological. It helps lower stress levels and combat depression. The increased blood-flow during exercising also improves memory and metabolism.
A consistent fitness routine can further enhance your mood and help you feel more productive, happy, efficient, and calm – charging you up to take on the challenges of the day ahead.
So, whether by installing a home gym or opting for a virtual workout session with your trainer, keeping yourself active is the best solution to achieving well-rounded fitness and wellbeing.
A holistic mind, body and soul approach
Complement your physical fitness with a focus on your mental health by practicing mindful meditation. Doing so regularly can help you to de-clutter your mind and reorient yourself while improving focus and emotional intelligence. This builds your resilience to mental health challenges such as anxiety, stress, and depression, allowing you to operate more effectively and efficiently.
During the lockdown, increasing my daily meditation time from 15 minutes to 45 minutes helped me reconnect with my true self while helping me focus on achieving a greater sense of self-awareness.
A healthier sleep schedule
As an entrepreneur, you might sometimes be tempted to pull an all-nighter occasionally. While business is important, the importance of taking adequate rest cannot be neglected. You cannot expect to function optimally if your mind and body are deprived of adequate rest.
Studies show that an irregular sleep cycle, with inadequate REM sleep, can affect your mood and metabolism, as well as your productivity. It can also cause depression and anxiety, apart from a host of other serious health issues.
As the one making critical business decisions every day, you cannot afford to be anything less than 100%, day in, day out. Follow a healthy sleep schedule with at least seven hours of high-quality rest to ensure that you are ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow at your peak efficiency.
A flexible, adaptable attitude to unexpected change
A lot of the stress and worry that entrepreneurs face today arise from the uncertainty that is surrounding their business in this pandemic-hit landscape. This is only natural; as human beings, our minds naturally tend to focus on the cause of our troubles. However, I have found that adopting a more counterintuitive approach that prioritises compartmentalisation can help in substantially reducing the stress levels.
Allow me to elaborate with a personal example.
We had initially planned to launch Traqade by Gympik, our gym management software, in key international markets by October 2020. This did not come to pass due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. While it was disappointing to postpone our product’s launch, we looked at it as a blessing in disguise.
We collaborated closely with leading gyms and fitness centres to identify the areas of opportunity. This has helped us introduce more functionality and features and address some of the bottlenecks, thus enabling us to make the product more robust before its international debut. In short, we prioritised our concerns and focused on what we could do, instead of fretting about something – the pandemic – that we had no control over.
A workplace that thrives on care and support
In his epic fantasy work, Malazan Book of the Fallen, Steven Erikson writes: “We humans do not understand compassion. In each moment of our lives, we betray it. Aye, we know of its worth, yet in knowing we then attach to it a value, we guard the giving of it, believing it must be earned. Compassion is priceless in the truest sense of the word. It must be given freely. In abundance.”
This quote has stayed with me because it captures an essential truth: the world will be a better place with more compassion, empathy, care, and support. No matter how emotionally resilient we are, we love it when people around us demonstrate that they care about us. Not only does it make us feel better about ourselves, but we also tend to look at any new developments in a more positive light. Creating a workplace that thrives on support and care should be a priority for you. Doing so can help you create a culture of empowerment and enablement within your organisation that provides for its people's emotional needs – including you.
Focusing on hobbies and personal/social relationships
Business does take precedence over almost everything else in an entrepreneur’s life. However, during the pandemic, I have realised the critical need to not let it become an all-consuming obsession. The lockdown-driven home confinement has helped me appreciate the importance of enjoying the time that I spend with my family.
I would suggest, set aside some time to do what you love, whether with the people you love or even by yourself, every day. It could be something as simple as cooking, playing a game, or reading a book, or an extended video call with your college friends. You will appreciate the joy these moments bring to you, leaving you refreshed, recharged, and reinvigorated to tackle business challenges without any stress.
I will end this piece with how I began: with a reminder. The pandemic has completely changed the rules of the game. Everyone is winging it the best they can and, given their responsibilities, entrepreneurs and business leaders are doing it more than most other people.
Just remember, that you don’t have to shoulder the burden alone. There are people, resources, and systems that you can lean on to ensure that you come out on top of the current crisis – healthier and fitter, in all the ways that matter.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)