COMBAT COVID-19: Look After Yourself First

Published: 24 March 2020

As an entrepreneur, we have this in-built martyrdom and a need to suffer the most and feel guilty if we aren’t. This is honourable in periods of relatively low stress. Fight the good fight and lead from the front. Show the team what is possible.

In periods of extreme stress, this is not sustainable and can actually be counter-productive.

As stress levels rise and complexities grow, the number of moving parts to manage becomes overwhelming and all rational thought goes out of the window and you enter a state of “survival mode”. Just keeping the wolf from the door, suppliers and funders at bay and customers mildly satisfied.

This is when people need you most to make the calm, rational calls that engenders confidence in your leadership.

How is this possible?

Things that have helped me deal with extreme stress in business fall into a couple of categories:

1) Diet – be strict with what you eat. The tendency is to fall back on high-energy sources, like sugar, caffeine and other quick fixes. You run on adrenaline and run at a hundred miles an hour…until you come off it. Then you crash. The longer you sustain it, the bigger the fall. Aim for a healthy balanced diet with vegetables and complex carbs or whatever may work for you to maintain a sustainable energy level.

2) Exercise – when we’re busy, the first thing we drop is exercise – there isn’t enough time or I don’t have energy. Carve out just 30 minutes a day, and do something – a walk, a jog, some home exercise…but do something. Get the heart rate up and break the cycle of “living in your head stress”.

3) Share – find the confidants around you and share what is in your head. A problem shared is a problem halved. Just talking allows a stress release and sometimes it is surprising getting some other informed or uninformed views…it allows for reflection.

4) Quiet Time – downtime when you shut things out of your mind, the subconscious keeps working. And when you least expect it, like in the shower or listening to music, the answers hit you like a bolt out of the blue.

5) Grateful – thinking about what you should be grateful for brings back perspective. Whatever you’re facing, there are things we can all be thankful for – find those and sit quietly and reflect.

6) Act – when you decide on a course, don’t dither, act. Sometimes acting on something which is 80% correct is better than waiting until you are 100% correct. Go for it.

Hopefully this can cut through some of the noise on a daily basis and find the golden thread required to align everyone and to navigate through the tough times.

Article by Karl Westvig, Retail Capital CEO.