From my point of view, the next pandemic (if we are through this one) is a mental health crisis since the stress on small business leaders and their employees has never been higher. This is something we are unable to ignore.
On The Small Business Radio Show this week, I discussed this with Britt Frank, MSW, LSCSW who is a licensed psychotherapist, trauma specialist, and author of the new book, ”The Science of Stuck: Breaking Through Inertia to Find Your Path Forward. “ She speaks about the mental health myths that keep us stuck and stressed out.
Britt says that people expected themselves to operate at the pre-pandemic levels even with everything locked down. Their brain was already in high alert mode and the ability to do common tasks decreased. She adds “people were expecting a lot of free time (since they weren’t traveling); they had ‘open time’ but not ‘free time’ where they could do and go where they wanted. With all this ‘open time’ with nothing to do, it left them with just their own thoughts which increased stress.”
According to Britt, the biggest myth of mental health is that somehow it is all in your mind; that physical and mental health are separate. She emphasizes that “mental health is also in your body. Our brain lives inside our body that lives in a physical world. During this pandemic time, our bodies felt especially unsafe.”
Britt sees an upside to the anxiety that is caused by stress. She tells us that “anxiety is the check engine light on the brain of your dashboard. The alarm is not the problem, it’s a signal that there is a problem elsewhere. If we numb anxiety, it points to problem elsewhere that needs to be checked out.”
If you feel anxiety, Britt suggests you literally “chill out”. She explains that putting your head in a refrigerator or holding ice cubes for 30 seconds slow your brain down.
People blame themselves for being stuck. Britt explains that the number one contributor is to think we shouldn’t be stuck. She adds “take a step in any direction and listen for feedback. We get caught in the why and not the what. Better to take a step in a wrong direction rather than not take any step at all. “
Finally, Britt believes we should not look for a “work life balance”. She insists that this “came from the industrial age – what we want is “work life boundaries”. Are you able to put down work or turn off your devices?”
Listen to Britt’s entire interview on The Small Business Radio Show.
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Image: Britt Frank