How to keep up morale while your business deals with Covid-19 and lockdown

By Sarah Lewis, C.Psychol., Appreciating Change

diverse woman working from home on sofa, making business dealsWith continuing lockdown/threat from Covid-19 is it not surprising that many of us in business are feeling very anxious, much more so than usual. 

Despite the reality of the threats to us as individual and to our business, we can boost our resilience, keep up morale and help those on our teams.

Let me share some top tips and resources to help you in these difficult times.

Have a laugh

There is evidence that laughing is good for us and for our immune system. Remember, coronavirus may be no laughing matter, nor are your business problems, but we don’t have to be solemn to be serious. Laughing is a good coping mechanism. My favourite YouTube video is Tripp and Tyler: A Conference Call in Real Life. It makes me laugh every time I watch it.

Manage your time watching news

Following the news 24/7 is not likely to do you any good. You can’t influence things other than by taking the precautions we’ve been told about and working creatively to support your business.  So, limit your daily diet! One benefit of reading rather than watching the news is that there is less ‘emotional contagion’ from the written word than from a person’s voice, so less transmission of anxiety.

What we want to do is replace anxiety with optimism. A great science-based resources with ideas about how to do this is: ‘Happy Brain Science’s Happiness at Work’ game.

Get into a flow state

Just ‘not thinking about it’ is hard, we need to find things that take us out of ourselves. When we are completely absorbed in things (whether this is a work task or something quite different) we are in a state of ‘flow’. In this state, we are not focused on our feelings. It’s like getting a holiday from your worried self.

For me writing, and cooking from what we have got to hand, offer me productive escape time. Sometimes it’s hard to get going, but once you’ve started to apply yourself, time falls away as you get into a ‘flow state’.

The book, ‘Positive Psychology at Work’ explains flow and other concepts that might be useful right now. You could also get Csikszentmihalyi’s classic book, ‘Flow’.

Keep exercising and eating well

Make sure you eat healthily. Lots of fruit and vegetables are good for immune system. Exercise is very important to both mental and physical health. You know the rules about keeping your distance. Put your face mask on and yomp for an hour somewhere green.  You could also try the Joe Wicks ‘Seven days of sweat’ workout which you’ll find online. It will make you do what it says, and you’ll feel the benefit!

Count your blessings

The new science of positive psychology has proved the benefits of counting your blessings. There is an exercise known as the ‘three good things’. At the end of each day, identify three good things that have happened during the day. It’s good practice to write them down. Doing this regularly helps train your brain to look for the positives amongst the gloom, to find the silver linings, if you like.

You can find lots of similar proven exercises in Vanessa Keys excellent book: 10 keys to happier living.

Begin longer-term projects

Starting projects suggests an optimism about the future that becomes self-reinforcing. Uncertainty can act to paralyse us. By pro-actively starting a project we can break out of that paralysis. The hardest part is getting started, but once you do it will draw you forward. I’ve started a new tapestry kit. Every evening I can admire the couple of square inches I’ve completed and feel I’m making progress.

Coach yourself

If you are feeling really stuck you may need a more structured approach to pull yourself out of the mire. Usually we can rely on informal chats with colleagues to stimulate our thinking or for new ideas. Sometimes we just need to be asked a question that gives us a different take on the. You may already have a business coach to help. If not self-coaching helps move you into a more productive self-talk, that allows you find unexpected ways forward.

‘At My Best’ offer an excellent selection of forty-eight coaching questions in their ‘Good Question Card’ pack. Alternatively, there is a set of six Coaching Cubes with thirty-six questions, based on the PRISM coaching model, that you roll like dice, introducing an element of randomness and chance into the questions you’re asked.

Focus on Appreciative Living

Appreciative Living, based on Appreciative Inquiry, is all about seeing and seeking out the best of life. Despite everything, we can still appreciate the things that make life worth living, today. Developing an appreciative eye takes practice and isn’t always easy, but the benefit to our health, well-being, state of mind and ability to remain pro-active in the face of threat, in fact to our resilience, is beyond question. Start living appreciatively while staying safe.

Jackie Kelm is the guru of Appreciative Living. You’ll find her videos on YouTube and her latest book, Appreciative Living, on Amazon. Or try the Appreciative Inquiry card pack, with pictures, quotes and questions. Or you might find Appreciative Inquiry for Change Management by Lewis, Passmore and Cantore of interest for a more work orientated explanation.

I hope these tips will help you as you continue to work and run your business.

About the author

Sarah Lewis Sarah Lewis C.Psychol., is the principal psychologist at Appreciating Change, a strengths-based psychological consultancy that is committed to applying well-researched positive psychology ideas and interventions to workplace challenges and opportunities at an individual, team or whole organization level.

Sarah is an associated fellow of the British Psychological Society, a principal member of the Association of Business Psychologists, and a member of the International Positive Psychology Association.

Sarah is an acknowledged Appreciative Inquiry and Positive Psychology expert, a regular conference presenter and author of ‘Positive Psychology at Work’ (Wiley), Positive Psychology and Change (Wiley), ‘Appreciative Inquiry for Change Management’ (KoganPage) and Positive Psychology in Business (Pavilion).

She also collects great positive psychology resources to support consultants, trainers and coaches in their work which are sold through the Positive Psychology online shop.




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