Author: Emy M. Tafelski, LMFT
Being a small business owner is sometimes very difficult. You are in charge of your business—your baby—of your employees, of marketing, advertising, personnel and a host of other things. It can often feel like a lot. Add to that the current unprecedented level of uncertainty in your lives and your business, and it might feel like an insurmountable challenge to just keep things afloat. Yet, in order for you to continue to serve your businesses and your community, you must put some work into caring for yourselves and your own mental wellness. Personally, as a mental health practitioner and a small business owner, I understand this very well.
The level of uncertainty and chaos in the world can also make everything even more exhausting and more difficult than it would be otherwise. It’s hard to see where to put your attention, and where to focus to make the most impact. The weighing of the options requires much more thought because everything is so unpredictable, and there is also the element of caring for the “greater good” by doing what you can to minimize the spread and flatten the curve. Phew, it feels like so much!
So, what can you do to care for yourself during this time, to manage the stress and the uncertainty?
First I think it’s very important to stay in the present moment as much as possible and to take one thing at a time (these are two different things but closely related). Staying in the present moment means really just what it says. You may be experiencing fear and anxiety around the future, which is not the present moment. The fears are valid, given the current uncertainty, and they’re also unlikely to serve you as motivation. Coming back to the present moment, to what is right here, right now, in front of you, is a practice that allows you to create the space to see where the next steps are and to move toward them one at a time. It moves you out of fear and anxiety. It allows you the space to make decisions based on what feels best rather than based on fear. In order to come back to the present moment, it may be helpful to focus on your breath: breathing in to a count of 4 and out to a count of 4 or 5, or saying “inhale,” “exhale” out loud as you inhale and exhale. Another way to come to the present moment is to remind yourself what is real and true right now. For me, right now I am sitting in front of this laptop with a cup of tea in front of me. I can faintly hear my husband’s music coming up from downstairs. I notice no smells or sounds. I am aware of the chair I am sitting in and of my leg tucked up under me. This is my current moment: my here and now. From this place, I can see and feel what comes next in this article that might be most helpful. When I think too much about what I should say, I move out of the present moment and am unable to write effectively for this article.
Things are so uncertain right now that we truly only have the present moment. From this present moment, you can discern what step, if any, might be the most useful for your business. Then, move forward one step at a time. When you view things singularly, or as one thing at a time, it decreases overwhelm. The more you can break things down into smaller steps, the easier you may move forward with them.
Additionally, I think there are some practical self nurturing things that can be of benefit: Get outside every day, even if it’s only 10 minutes; Get some kind of movement every day. It doesn’t have to be a long run or anything like that. Move your body in whatever way you want to. Get some sun every day. Again, this could be five minutes of sun on your face. Connect with people. Reach out to friends or other business owners to support each other and hear of each other’s wins and struggles. Practice gratitude. And, reach out for help if you need it. Most mental health clinicians have moved their practices online in order to continue to serve the community and do their part to keep everyone safe. Wishing you peace and presence!