Headspace reminds us that although COVID-19 is a virus, the impact on that it has on the mind is greater than people would assume. The drip-down effect is real when we realise that everything we’ve ever known to be normal is now gone. From the freedom of physical contact to community engagement and events, not to mention the financial impact with employment rates being higher than ever, the pressure is real and it can really take a toll on our mental and physical health.
Beyond Blue states that "Mindfulness provides us with a means of cultivating greater and more objective awareness of our own emotional landscape, the emotions of others, and of external circumstance."
In any business, when anxiety and stress are exacerbated due to uncertainty, it can affect individuals differently. Practising mindfulness allows us more choice in how we respond to challenging situations and to consciously decide where we need to place our attention. Especially within a remote working environment, connectedness is reduced, team morale may be low, productivity weakened, leadership questioned and goals set early in the year seem unachievable and out-of-reach. As business leaders, we need to remind ourselves that we’re only human and that it is okay to be vulnerable, have bad days and feel… shit. You are not alone.
As the one and only Brené Brown would say, “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it's having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it's our greatest measure of courage.”
So what can you do to keep your mind clear and your team together in solidarity?
Be aware and recognise warning signs. This can be irritability, impatience, erratic behaviour, sleep deprivation, less focus, loss of appetite or over drinking and overeating.
Implement best practice measures to promote health & safety first
Get sleep, exercise and maintain a good daily routine. Yes nothing is normal out there in the big bad world but you are ultimately still in control of your own habits, so keep that up. Balance is everything.
Consistently empower your team to make the right decisions for their own mental, physical and emotional health needs.
Be a compassionate leader. Everyone’s situation and circumstances can be different to yours. They might be suffering from anxiety or are feeling more at risk or fear. Being critical now can do more harm than good so have empathy and remember to encourage sharing honest feelings.
Be a better listener. Know when you need to be quiet and listen. Ask genuine questions and give your team or customers the time to respond. You’ll be surprised at what you learn if you give people the chance.
Mindfulness meditation has proven to reduce stress, depression and anxiety because it deactivates the emotional centre of the brain.
Share frequent, clear and concise information with your team and your customers. Weekly status updates facts, information and stories will help your community feel less unsettled and with confidence to trust you to do your part.
Lastly, be kind to yourself. Practice self-compassion and allow your feelings to do what it has to do. When ‘situations’ occur, give yourself the time and space to deal with it in a proper and respectful way. Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s necessary. After all, if you can’t sustain your brain to make the right decisions, once the pandemic is gone (and it will be gone someday), you might not have a business to sustain. Be resilient, be optimistic and it will all be okay.
Stress surveys to measure and track the stress levels across the business.
Guided Meditation by Headspace
Breathing exercises by Headspace
Self-care by BeyondBlue
The Smiling Mind podcast on Spotify
Written by Dee Huynh