Balancing your business and your wellbeing is challenging in lockdown. Helen Hayes provides a bite-sized self-care routine to help you breathe a little easier.
What has lockdown meant to you? Well golly: now you’re not only a mum and business owner, you’re also a teacher, exercise instructor, prison guard, hygiene monitor, motivator and everyone’s mental health carer, in a situation that none of us really imagined would ever happen.
It was hard enough before lockdown. Now, with endless responsibilities, our fear of failure and uncertainty over whether we’re doing it all right (otherwise known as ‘Mum guilt)’ is triggered. And the first thing we tend to drop in moments of Mum guilt is self care.
But if self-care falls by the wayside, you become physically and mentally fatigued, and as the saying goes: ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’. So, it’s important to make time to look after yourself.
Spending time on your wellbeing doesn’t mean you’re selfish. Instead, you are preparing yourself with the strength to persevere. Having a business takes time, a huge effort, skills, dedication and balls. You’ve got this and so much more.
What you might no longer have is time. Our escape avenues like Yoga and Zumba classes have gone. Lockdown Business Mum has much more to do – reinventing herself and learning mind-blowing new ‘tech’ for a start! So my top tip is: practice self-care in short bursts throughout the day. And to help you, here’s five mini self-care strategies you can start straight away.
1. Learn to say no
It’s easy to let your passion for your business colour what you believe you can achieve, and the opportunities of Zoom or social networking meetings can be very tempting in an uncertain financial climate.
But the demands on your time have changed. If something crops up – kids arguing, sickness, demanding attention – it can derail your whole day. Being realistic, learning to say no and spending five minutes every day evaluating your goals can help to release the pressure.
2. Take five
Do at least one small thing a day that makes you feel good. Even just for five minutes. I end most days with a bubble bath, candle, decaf tea and a face mask. It might be at 7pm or 10pm, but that’s my time to wash away stress and review the day with gratitude.
If you need inspiration, you could look to apps like ‘Calm’ that offer 5-minute meditations, or you could sit in the garden, read a chapter of a book, have a cuppa. Anything that takes you away from any stress and helps you re-focus your energy and rebalance yourself.
At times the Business Dynamo in us can get caught up in our plans ahead. But if you don’t look after yourself now, you’ll struggle to achieve what you want to in the future.
3. Reach out
Take time every day to seek some form of support. Daily self-help can come in many forms: sometimes I ring a girlfriend and we vent, fix the world and come out smiling within ten minutes.
Our support network isn’t just family and friends, there our many colleagues genuinely offering free support and a plethora of self-help groups and small businesses out there. Whatever form of support network is available to you, use it. It doesn’t make you weak or a burden.
4. Be grateful
When you’re feeling overwhelmed it can be easy to focus on the negatives. Keeping a gratitude diary helps to retrain your brain to focus on what is really important. It takes mere minutes, but can make a profound difference to your outlook.
5. Don’t forget to breathe
When we get stressed we suck in our breath, we suck in the problem, we inhale the negativity and hold on to it. Breathe out. And by that I really do mean BREATHE out. As soon as you feel stress, anger, upset, annoyance, panic, anxiety – any form of negativity – stop. Take a good breath in and for a count of four, breathe absolutely all of your air out.
It takes five or six seconds and if practiced everyday, you will be a lot more relaxed, and on the flip side you will be far more positive and focused. After a few weeks of being self-aware and releasing the ‘held breath’ it will become a normal function.
6. Take a day off
For some this is a real challenge, but remember that you started your business to work for you, not you for it. Give yourself permission to take time off. Schedule social media posts ahead so the chatter in your head doesn’t worry about algorithms and missed opportunities. Then block the time off.
When you add up the actual amount of time to implement this self-help guide, you’re talking about 15 to 30 minutes a day, maximum. The result is a healthier you, by default a happier household and a business with a leader who is more resilient and ready for the next stage.