Depressed after weeks of COVID-19 lockdown?

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David FullerI was in a funk this week and couldn’t shake it.

I was disillusioned, grumpy, lethargic. I was tired of being stuck with my family, sick of hearing the news repeat itself, worried about one of my investments and fed up with a lack of progress on some projects.

At least one whole day was spent sitting and staring into space. Not only was I feeling depressed, I was acting depressed.

I know I’m not alone. According to a 2019 survey report titled Going it Alone, by the Canadian Mental Health Association, nearly 62 per cent of Canadian Small Business owners feel depressed at least once a week.

During this time of crisis, I imagine these numbers are higher and the sense of depression has lasted longer.

Some of the causes of depression in entrepreneurs include:

  • Burnout resulting from working long hours over extended periods. This is probably common now with entrepreneurs who are trying to take control of their situation during this difficult time.
  • Lack of control. Understandably it’s frustrating when government and medical health officers have control of the economy and are making decisions to reduce health risk on businesses without fully understanding their implications.
  • Inability to provide for family as a result of lack of cash flow. In 2019, 67 per cent of business owners in the CMHA study were stressed and worried about their cash flow. Extended worry in this area can bring on bouts of depression.
  • Uncertainty and the inability to plan for action or move the business forward.
  • Conflict with family, friends, employees or partners.
  •  Lack of purpose and fulfilment with their work.

It’s no wonder many entrepreneurs feel discouraged and even depressed right now. Even as the economy starts to open up again, the effects of the last few weeks of closure might take months, if not years, to repair.

So what do we need to do?

There are many health experts far more qualified than me who can suggest how to get through depressed states. But in my experience working with hundreds of business owners over the past few years, I can suggest several things that might help.

Identify and acknowledge what you’re going through. When we can specifically name what’s bugging us, it allows us to realize that what’s happening is real. I’m feeling depressed and I think it’s caused by. …

In my case, I knew I was feeling depressed but it took me days to figure out the underlying cause. 

Take a time out. Its okay to check out. A few years ago, after I had burned out as the result of an intense four-year project, I made weekly time for myself to be by myself. While it took months to fully recover, these timeouts made a significant difference.

We need to give ourselves permission to take time out. And it’s important that we communicate to those around us exactly what we’re doing and what we need in order to recharge ourselves. Often the people around us are worried about us and might not understand what’s going on.

Determine what’s within your control. Realistically, we’re not in control of much. However, there are some things we can take action on that will make a difference.

Part of my challenge this week was that I was trying to push agendas that were outside of my influence. Realizing this made a difference and simply stepping back helped me to put things in perspective.

 Self care. I know when I’m feeling blue that I need to take care of myself. For me, this means exercising, getting out in the sunshine, getting enough sleep, reaching out to a friend or two, and taking nutritional supplements like vitamin B. If I don’t take charge of these basic physical areas, I find I fall further behind.

Business can be challenging at the best of times. However, when the stress really mounts up, having understood from previous experience that this too shall pass puts a different perspective on mental health.

We all have bad days, weeks and even months. They can affect our thoughts and energy levels. Understanding what we can do to get through those dark days can be key to feeling normal again.

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award winning business coach and a partner in the firm Pivotleader Inc. Comments on business at this time? Email [email protected]

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