With 50 staff and two small businesses, like so many others my world was turned upside down. The last three months has definitely thrown up serious challenges, many of which we have never had to face before and hopefully never face again, writes Sam Wood wellbeing expert and founder of 28 by Sam.
Being given 24 hours notice by the government to shut the doors of my gym, the home of 30 trainers and friends, was a really, really tough time. I’m not going to lie, for the first week of two it was definitely one of the most stressful periods of my life and in one which I was definitely operating both physically and mentally far from my optimum. After this week, I recognised that I needed to use this time to bake a big deep breath, controlling what I could instead of wasting energy on what I couldn’t. I paused, reflected and made some key decisions to what I needed to do personally, from a physical and mental perspective, to be able to handle this situation as best as I could.
This time has been unthinkably challenging but it has been a great learning experience. I wanted to share some practices with you that helped me through this difficult period and I hope that they are able to benefit you in some way.
It is very hard for us to make clear and smart decisions before we reach a stage of acceptance. We are overwhelmed with anger and frustration and this was definitely me for a few weeks. However, once I accepted that this was going to be a tough time with so many things out of my control, I began to turn the corner. This acceptance brought clarity and positivity which opened my eyes to many opportunities and silver linings.
2. Create a new routine for the new normal.
Initially, the mistake I made was trying to fit my old routine into this new world and it just wasn’t working. I was trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. I know my reasoning for wanting to do this was right. I know that routine helps. I was continually trying to do things like nothing had changed and it wasn’t the same or in many cases, actually impossible. So I rubbed out the old plan and wrote up a new one. Simply creating a new routine and setting new goals allowed me clarity and vision of what I wanted and needed to do during this period. I gave out all the equipment from The Woodshed to my trainers, allowing them to remain mobile while the gym was shut, but it also provided me with a blank canvas for a new renovation and the time I would usually spend working in the gym was spent programming and planning so that when we re-open we are clean, new and ready to thrive irrespective of whatever restrictions we may face.
3. Physical Health
Before restrictions, I would do some kind of workout at The Woodshed, outdoors or at home early in the morning to get myself going. During isolation, with restrictions on gyms and outdoor training, I couldn’t do this. But I knew I still needed to move every morning. I did home workouts with my family and I got some basic strength equipment to keep myself fit and strong from home. I cannot stress enough how much more energised and productive I am when I move my body in the morning. I call these my power hours and remember, it is about quality not quantity. I know that as a small business owner, time is money. Consistent workouts that only need to be 20 or 30 minutes is all you need and I promise that they will boost your energy and productivity to tackle all the responsibilities that come with managing a small business. Something else I did to look after my physical wellbeing was the launch of live workouts with my wife Snezana. I streamed free live workouts to peoples lounge rooms every morning for 10 weeks. Not only did we get a great workout done in the morning, but that feeling of connection with other people during isolation was so powerful.
This leads to my next point.
4. Mental Health
Mental health is so often overlooked but so important for everyone, particularly as a small business owner going through a tough time. Practising mindfulness doesn’t have to involve meditating. For me, it’s walking the dog, getting some fresh air and vitamin D outside, practising some mindfulness… they are all ways that force me to slow down and switch off, which I’m sure you agree as a small business owner is nearly impossible to do. We carry the weight of the world on our shoulders and think about our business 24/7 which is not healthy. Not only do I practice these methods to improve my mental health, I make sure I speak out if I need help and I don’t bottle things up. This has been a huge release for me and allows me to cope with anxiety and stress much better. I’ll put my hand up and admit I still have work to do in this space but practising these things daily is something I can’t recommend enough. The important thing from a mental health perspective is to find what works for you whether it be meditation, yoga, counselling, breathing exercises or even a run. Regular physical exercise is hugely beneficial to our mental health.
With all of us dealing with such different circumstances I would never say that working on these four steps is going to be the magic fix for your current situation. I completely understand that many people are doing it far tougher than me right now but what I do know is these things were incredibly helpful for me during a tough time and I really hope that they can help you too.
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