By: Lionel Tarumbwa
As feelings of fear, anxiety, and depression escalate among young entrepreneurs, they have found ways to keep their balance during the crisis.
These challenges are likely to rise more in young entrepreneurs who took the leap of faith into the entrepreneurial path. What like top-notch, solid air-tight business plans before the crisis have been rendered obsolete with so much becoming overwhelmingly unpredictable and uncontrollable.
Young entrepreneurs across the continent have found various ways to help them cope with these feelings to support their mental health as they work on maintaining or restoring a sense of personal.
Here are the few ways they have been dealing with their mental health during the crisis;
- Innovating around the crisis
Young entrepreneurs are finding a sense of normalcy in doing what entrepreneurs know best, innovating and seeking out opportunities. Tanzanian entrepreneur Balbina Gullam, a 2019 Anzisha Fellow, attested to the fact that the crisis has pushed her business to seek out new opportunities to remain relevant. Her business, Huduma Smart, is a platform that assists with training maids and placing them in decent jobs. As the virus has affected some of the operations, Balbina started a new line of detergents to augment falling revenue.
“We came to think about how Covid-19 is not entirely a crisis, it is also a grace period. We came down to rethink about ways that we have been operating, our technology and how we can improve,” says Balbina.
- Practising regular check-ins
There has been much hype about the term “social distancing” as people have not been able to meet interact and practice physical contact. However, entrepreneurs still need to have support as they go through their daily routine of carrying and managing their teams. Young entrepreneurs are maintaining their balance by maintaining regular contact with their network of peers and talking honestly about the challenges they are having.
“The beauty of it is that we are facing a global crisis and many are facing the same challenges, therefore, they also understand what another entrepreneur is going through. It gives some comfort having that familiarity,” says one Zimbabwe-based young entrepreneur.
- Practising self-care
Self-care matters. Taking work home has blurred the lines between the time young entrepreneurs had for themselves and the time they invested in their work. Young CEO’s are often finding themselves having to put their company, suppliers and stakeholders. It was evident in our conversation with Balbina that she has to put everything else before herself. We did ask her how she manages to keep her head above the water and practice self-care under all this pressure.
“I always ‘faith it’”, says Balbina with a chuckle,” first thing I do with ‘faithing’ is to believe this is only passing. So I am training myself and mind to know that all that is happening is not permanent.”
- Consuming less news
One of the things that can particularly drive stress levels up the continuous stream of news laden with statistics spiking infection and rising death tolls. It is very easy to feel overwhelmed by this constant flood of information. Some young entrepreneurs have focused on a few trusted sources of news that they can be able to turn to when in routines and times that work for them. Focusing on less but quality content has helped lower the constant distress from a continuous stream of news.
- Staying Active
According to one study, “Aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening, and dancing, have been proved to reduce anxiety and depression.” The closure of gyms and fitness centres has led to innovation in virtual fitness classes as well as increased downloads of fitness apps. Young entrepreneurs have found themselves with several options at their disposal when it comes to keeping themselves active and engaged.
Focusing on change
Entrepreneurs have dealt with the mental health pressures coming with Covid-19 by focusing on the positives and being able to keep moving. Balbina has kept her focus on her business, innovation and improving her business process. Others have found time to try out new hobbies, stay active and give out more of themselves. As Balbina says, it has been important for her as a young entrepreneur to realise this is not permanent.