In order to weather this storm called COVID-19, we entrepreneurs need to first and foremost take care of ourselves. Only then will we be able to rise to the challenges that lay ahead.
Speakers’ events have been canceled. Physical therapists have been forced to cancel all of their sessions. Bars and restaurants have literally been shut down. If you’re an entrepreneur, chances are you’ve already experienced a significant impact on your business due to the COVID-19 virus. And even if you’re someone who works remotely, such as a brand and web designer like myself or a coach who does sessions via phone, your clients are likely worried about their own finances and canceling some or all of the services they typically hire you for.
I promise you, we are all feeling this virus’s impact in one form or another.
And in a time like this, when we’re feeling panicky about our businesses and maybe even catastrophizing about what lays ahead, it’s all too easy for us to drown ourselves in our work and figuring out ways to survive. Down we go, white-knuckles and all, forgetting completely about self-care and those daily activities and practices that allow us to feel and be our best.
But if we’re to weather this storm, which I know each and every one of us absolutely intends on doing, we’re going to need to be at the top of our game. For only at our most clever, creative, open-minded, fearless, and determined will we be able to ride the inevitable coming waves with ease. And as much as we want, this best version of ourselves doesn’t come from drowning ourselves in our work – it comes from putting self-care and ourselves first.
So as such, below are the 10 self-care practices I’m sticking to like glue to ensure that I can do my absolute best work with my clients and in shaping Ellanyze during COVID-19 and thereafter. Will you join me?
1) Make sleep a non-negotiable.
You know what the great thing about non-negotiables is? They’re non-negotiable. They just are, regardless of anything and everything else. I’ve found consistently over the years that when I get enough sleep, every single thing in my waking hours becomes easier. Give yourself the best gift you can during this stressful time and get the hours of sleep you need (around eight hours for most). Additionally, a few practices that I find do wonders in making sure my sleep is high-quality are keeping my phone out of my bedroom (!), sleeping with a white noise machine, and doing a relaxation meditation as I lay in bed drifting off to sleep.
2) Fine-tune your morning routine.
Discovering your perfect morning routine is like discovering your favorite ice cream flavor – you *could* go back to life without it, but why in the world would you want to when it makes you feel so darn good? When I successfully complete my own morning routine, I feel like anything is possible and I’m on top of the world. And when I skip it? I typically end up curled up in some kind of a stress ball by mid-afternoon. My routine is simple and consists of four parts: gratitude, meditation, writing, and a walk (I use the acronym G.M.W.W. to remember it – Good Morning Wonderful World!) Sure, it takes me a few hours to get through everything, but boy is it worthwhile.
3) Shower and get dressed every single day (that means you).
Without the motivation of knowing we have to go out into the world and be with other human beings, it’s easy for entrepreneurs to let showering fall by the waste side from time to time (don’t lie). But let’s not skip it. Showering and getting dressed (preferably into NON-pajama clothing) communicates to your brain and subconscious that it’s time to get to work, and wouldn’t you agree that we need every subconscious perk we can get right now?
4) Develop a daily rhythm.
I’ll be the first to admit that right after the world shut down and we all became sequestered to our homes, my typically daily routine relaxed – a lot. First I stopped setting my alarm and sleeping in, then I began snacking throughout the day instead of having meals, and eventually, my “work days” became long amorphous stretches of mass with no clear beginning or end in sight. And while this felt awesome at first (like a vacation), after three days I began to feel aimless and depressed – and it was no mystery why. Although it might seem counterintuitive, creating structure in your days is a fantastic way of taking care of yourself. It will allow you to stay clear-headed and focused on your path.
5) Write a task list for each day and stick to it.
Either at the end of your workday or first thing in the morning, compose a list of all your tasks for the day. Place it somewhere that’s always in your field of vision (I like to tape mine to the bottom of my computer monitor). Each time you glance at it, say to yourself “I am going to feel SO good at the end of today when I’ve gotten all these things done!” And lastly, practice whatever positive reinforcements help you to keep going, whether that’s crossing items off as you go, or giving yourself a shiny gold star for each task accomplished 😉
6) Impose guidelines around news consumption.
We all want to know what’s going on out there. But there’s a fine line between surveying the news daily to stay informed and educated, and consuming it obsessively and continuously to the point of panic. I recommend coming up with gentle guidelines around how you consume your news: for example, you could make it a practice to keep your consumption to reading articles on your top news websites for thirty minutes each evening. By all means, stay informed, but also figure out how to do so in a way that takes care of your mental and emotional state.
7) Talk to at least one human every day.
It’s no news that human beings need connection. We literally can’t survive without it. I’ve found it amazingly helpful to make sure I’m having at least one phone conversation with someone in my circle every day, whether that means a family member, a close friend, or a business colleague. You don’t need a specific reason for talking – simply connecting is all the reason you need. And keep in mind that while texting and online messaging is connecting in some form, hearing a person’s voice on the other end of the line (or better yet seeing their face too) is vastly more powerful than texting in allowing us to feel and experience meaningful connection with others.
8) Dust off ideas from your “Someday Maybe” list.
Have you read my post on the “Someday Maybe” list? It’s basically a list (whether written down or in your mind) of all those things you might, perhaps, get to … someday. Well, guess what? Now that you’re in quarantine for who knows how long, it’s the perfect time to dust off those “someday maybe” items and turn some of them into “this week for sure” items. Whether it’s decluttering your closet, filling in the holes in your office wall, picking up your old guitar, or anything else – we all have a lot more time on our hands these days, and those long lost ideas might just be itching to get to the surface.
9) Watch something every day that makes you laugh.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this is not the time for watching post-apocalyptic horror flicks all day every day. Laughter, along with its good buddies the endorphins, is good for the body and good for the soul. And I think we all need a lot more of it these days, wouldn’t you agree? Whether it’s Dave Chappelle, Will Ferrell, John Candy, or Mrs. Maisel that floats your boat, treat yourself to something every day that will make you laugh. Your body will thank you!
10) Devise your own personal mantra for getting through this.
People love to make fun of mantras, but the thing about mantras is that they work. When you say something over and over again relentlessly in your mind, your brain begins to form synapses that support that thought or belief, and the synapses that oppose that thought or belief become weaker and weaker as the days go by. So, what will you train your brain to believe: that we’re all doomed to go broke and starve, or that with a little ingenuity and creativity, we will absolutely get through this with flying colors? Your own devised mantra will probably be best for you, but here are a few to choose from if you need some help getting started: I will come out of this stronger and wiser than ever. My brilliance and creativity will carry me through this. I am connected to everything and everyone, and we will all help one another get through.
Making our way through COVID-19 isn’t going to be easy. But it also doesn’t have to unbearable – not by a long shot. Commit to taking care of yourself every day – however that might uniquely look for you – and you can rest easy knowing that when you do dive into the challenging work of figuring out how to best sustain your business through this pandemic, that you’re doing so as the absolute highest version of yourself.
What are you doing to practice self-care during COVID-19? Let us know in the comments below!