“Stress less, life’s short!” – coping with the mental impact of a tough year in business

Peter Griffin

Peter Griffin

Most offices around the country will be closing up today or next week as the bulk of the country’s workforce starts a well-earned break after a tiring and challenging year.

We’ve heard about the impact of Covid-19 on GDP, on our levels of government debt and on the sharemarket – which, bizarrely, is booming. But what about the psychological toll the pandemic has taken on business people?

Cast your mind back to late March and the impending Level 4 lockdown. Many businesses faced ruin as they had to close their doors. Indeed, many tourism and hospitality-based businesses that limped through 2021 with the help of cheap loans, mortgage holidays and wage subsidies, may never fully recover from the loss of business due to the pandemic.

Umbrellar Connect readers and partners, many of them involved in tech-related businesses, have done it tough too. Our maiden Umbrellar Connect survey revealed that 43% of businesses had suffered financially this year.

Read our exclusive interview with mental health advocate Jimi Hunt on his lifelong journey to improve his mental health, his tips for managing your wellbeing and his free Basic Reset programme which can help you help yourself.

The survey also asked respondents whether their mental health had been impacted to any degree by the events of 2020. Some 40% of the 112 survey respondents reported that it had indeed taken its toll, 39% said their mental health was about the same as before the pandemic and 22% estimated that, if anything, the pandemic had made them mentally stronger.

Drilling down into the results revealed some intriguing reflections on a year spent grappling with uncertainty and the lessons it offers for building better mental resilience and overall wellbeing in 2021.

Mentally ready for another lockdown?

“I plan to build stronger relationships with the people who refer clients to my business,” wrote one respondent to the anonymous survey. 

“Also try to stress less and enjoy day to day happiness. I will continue to look after my employees and make our workplace enjoyable,” the respondent added.

“Be mentally prepared to lose clients if another lockdown occurs,” was the pragmatic advice of another respondent.

“Some will simply not survive another hard lockdown.”

One respondent whose business is focused on delivering mental health and addictions treatments though the pandemic had sparked much greater awareness of mental health issues.

“Covid has generated great interest in alternative ways of delivering psychotherapy and counselling using tools like Zoom, and has paved the way for persons in distress to engage under anonymity,” the respondent wrote.

Others were philosophical about the pandemic and looking to achieve a better work-life balance as the events of 2020 really put their priorities. in perspective.

“Life’s too short to continue doing things you don’t enjoy just for money,” wrote one.

“Take risks and go for it! Life’s short!” Echoed another.

Things to try in 2021: A focus on fitness, meditation and flexible work

A common aspirational theme was to “work on personal and family health, physically and mentally”.

Meditation and exercise and flexibility in working schedules would be employed to help achieve that.

Importantly, some Umbrellar Connect readers and partners had reached out for support

“People, culture and diversity are the most important part of business and asking for help is ok even from your competitors and peers,” wrote one.

“I have less fear of the future now.”

Peter Griffin

Peter Griffin

Peter Griffin has been a journalist for over 20 years, covering the latest trends in technology and science for leading NZ media. He has also founded Science Media Centre and established Australasia's largest science blogging platform, Sciblogs.co.nz.

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“Stress less, life’s short!” - coping with the mental impact of a tough year in business - Umbrellar Connect

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