• Adam Whittaker

Stress, Anxiety and a Pandemic

How is everybody holding up? Has your bubble burst? How many people can you have in your house or garden where you are? Can you go to the pub or do you want to?

It is all still somewhat confusing for many (me included) and as the 'Rule of Six' comes into effect, the vast majority of people I speak to are finding the whole situation something of a challenge to their mental health (again, myself included!) Normality seems like a lifetime ago, as does the first time I met Susan Carr.

Susan is a counsellor providing therapy for a wide range of issues such as depression, anxiety, stress, loss and bereavement, low self-confidence and self-esteem, relationship and family issues. She is particularly interested in work related stress, something we can all appreciate more than ever right now but not for the reasons we would normally expect. Her business was affected by the COVID outbreak.

Basic needs needed to be met

"Initially there was a downturn in work as people adjusted to the lockdown, with the focus on ensuring basic needs were met (as shown by panic buying) and clarifying the implications in terms of work and finances. There were also practical issues in terms of the ability to access remote therapy as finding a confidential space for counselling was difficult for some people with other family members at home as well as trying to balance competing demands such as work and home-schooling"

I first met Susan when she attended one of my marketing workshops as she looked to build her business. Trading since 2013, she had also worked as a counsellor for the NHS as well as for a charitable organisation but it was always her intention to work for herself for two main reasons. One was quality of life but the other was to help others.

"Before training as a counsellor I worked as a solicitor in a busy commercial litigation department and therefore I understand the demands and pressures of working in a corporate environment so I wanted to offer a bespoke, accessible, quality therapy service that didn’t limit the number of sessions that a client can have. But I also wanted set up my own business so that I could fix my own hours and work around family life."

The 'B" Word

Naturally, the majority of her work had been face to face prior to the pandemic and as with many of us, there has been a shift to remote delivery. We have all had to adjust in our own way and some have benefited whilst others have struggled. What remains a challenge for all small businesses, freelancers and the self employed is what the future holds. Will there be a second wave, then there is Brexit and the recession. Such uncertainty can be debilitating and demotivating and it can be a struggle to keep going. Downtime has come to play such a prevalent role in life. For Susan that includes walking, dancing, reading and supporting Manchester City. At the forefront of the mental health challenge and being so close to how others are coping, I wondered what the long term effect of all this may be.

"It is not clear yet the full extent to which COVID has impacted on mental health, and although there have been numerous press reports predicting a “mental health crisis” it is important to recognise that in terms of the pandemic, feelings such as stress, anxiety, sadness and fear are normal given that it is unlike anything we’ve experienced before. For many people the support from family and friends and ensuring that they continue with their normal routines and coping strategies will be all that is needed. However, just as before the pandemic, there will still be a need for counselling and therapy and the most obvious way in which my sector will be affected is in the increased use of remote therapy given that both practitioners and clients have experienced the benefits of this form of delivery"

As important as your business plan

No matter what the future holds, businesses need to keep moving forward and developing. With the added pressures of our current situation, the day to day challenges remain. As well as seeing clients, there is the bookkeeping, the sales, the admin, and the marketing. As with Susan, the biggest challenge can be finding the time to do it all. Do you want to spend all of your time in front of a screen plotting what you are going to post on Facebook or Twitter, or do you want to be helping clients, making furniture, teaching yoga, taking photos or whatever your vocation may be? Obviously the answer is the latter but making that time to manage your marketing and social media is just as important as your business or finance plan.

There has been so much advice, do's and don'ts, top tips etc all over social media recently. But the best bit of advice Susan has been given I think holds so true in the current climate.

If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it

If you need any help with your social media or marketing, their management or strategy, I offer free half hour consultations. Drop me a line today adam@admia.co.uk