Reduce your family business anxiety with these 10 tips

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having a dramatic impact on all industries of the US economy. This uncertainty can lead to anxiety and stress, to help you combat these feelings we have consulted with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, family psychologists and medical professionals to craft a list of tips for family businesses to help their employees and family members manage coronavirus related stress and anxiety in the workplace by bolstering mental resilience.

The definition of anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. It is important to acknowledge that feelings of anxiety are normal at this point. We are early into this crisis and the outcome is clearly uncertain.

Our message to family businesses is to “Stay resilient ”, and keep in mind that as everyone’s life has been turned upside down, uncertainty becomes the new norm. These are ten tips can help reduce our anxiety and increase our mental resilience:

1. Be social while you practice social distancing

Social distancing does not mean social isolation. It is important to avoid isolating yourself. Use technology to maintain relationships and stay connected with friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. Group video chats work great to keep connected with your social network.

2. Schedule family time

Do not isolate within your own house. Share meals together, get out the old low-tech board games and engage with your family. 

3. Disconnect from the 24 hour news cycle

Misinformation or political agendas will only increase your anxiety and fear of the future unknown. Limit your news watching time to an hour or so per day, and do not rely solely on social media for your news.

4. Establish a routine

As many people are working from home now, it is important to establish a routine and stick with it. Get up at the same time, take a shower, make breakfast, and start working at your usual time. Mental health experts suggest that creating routine and structure is one of the easiest ways to promote positive mental health.

5. Practice good self-care

Even though your employees may be cut off from work and their communities, it is important for them to do things for themselves that generate happiness and comfort. Eat healthy, exercise, take a walk or bike ride or even practice deep breathing. Do not give in to the temptation of hunkering down and freezing up. Another good stress reliever is to help a friend or family member cope with their own stress.

6. Help others

Many family businesses have a strong philanthropic spirit and encourage employees and family members to actively help the community. Even with travel restrictions and social distancing, there are many ways to help others during this crisis. Check in with your elderly neighbors to see if they need groceries. Donate blood to the American Red Cross. Buy gift certificates at closed small businesses in your community. Order take-out or delivery from your favorite restaurant. Even a simple thank you to the grocery store bagger is helpful. During a crisis – it feels good to help others in need. 

7. Get plenty of sleep

Adults and children should get at least eight hours of sleep. It is also important to maintain a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and awake at routine times to maintain a proper sleep schedule.

8. Exercise

Although we are practicing social distancing, it is important to get some physical exercise. Walking, bike riding, yoga are all helpful to maintain mind/body balance. It may be time to actually use the exercise bike or treadmill that is gathering dust in your basement or garage. Use online exercise apps or videos. If you have kids, be creative. Play music – dance!

9. Find ways to laugh and smile

So far, it has been difficult to find humor during this crisis as many people have died already. However, it is possible to find humor and joy. Watching funny movies or old comedy TV shows can help take your mind off the situation. I have found that watching a show about puppies on the Animal Planet TV channel puts a smile on my face. Bringing out the old family photo albums will oftentimes bring smiles to everybody’s faces.

10. Lean on your community

Even though you cannot attend your local community or religious gatherings, you might still be able to participate online through social media or video conferencing. Staying connected to your community, even if only online, can bring you peace of mind during these trying times.

Keep in mind that the human body is hard-wired to be resilient. Following the 10 tips above can help family business owners and employees reduce stress and anxiety and prepare for a brighter future.

For more information on this topic, or to learn how Baker Tilly specialists can help,  contact our team.

Gary A. Plaster
Principal, MBA