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Navigating out of lockdown

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, many small business owners have needed to close, or alter their services in line with restrictions. With vaccination numbers now steadily increasing, most states have begun their transition out of lockdown. While this is great news for many small business owners, things aren’t going back to ‘normal’ just yet.

Many businesses will require customers to check-in, adhere to social distancing and capacity restrictions, and confirm double vaccination status prior to entering the premises. In addition, you and your staff members will most likely require vaccination to continue working with the public.

So while the stresses of the pandemic and financial uncertainty may be easing, there are new and different pressures being placed on small business owners. These will likely change again in December when most states are fully opened up, bringing new stressors, regulations, anxieties, and uncertainties. It’s important that you’re prepared, so you can continue to run your business efficiently and maintain your own mental health and wellbeing.

What are the rules in my state?

Many states have different rules and regulations for businesses. The Safe Work Australia website has information on the restrictions currently in place for your state, as well as additional information for business owners. Knowing what you need to be doing will help you make a plan and relieve some of the stress you may be experiencing.

Managing anxiety

As things open up again, it’s normal to be nervous about what this means for your own health and safety, as well as the health and safety of those around you. For many small business owners, opening up means being around the public and having to speak up about rules and regulations. Below are some tips to help you manage your stress and anxiety during these times:

  • Look after your body: This includes getting enough sleep, regular exercise, and eating a healthy diet. Looking after your physical health can go a long way in supporting your mental health.
  • Limit your news exposure: Try not to spend too much of your day reading or watching news about the pandemic. While being informed is a good thing, too much news can become overwhelming and stressful.
  • Keep connected: With restrictions easing, many of us are able to visit family and friends again. Take advantage of this, and spend time having some light-hearted fun with loved ones.
  • Do something for you: Take time out to look after yourself. It has been a tough year and you deserve some self-care time. Go out for lunch, take that bubble bath, or have a weekend away.
  • Stick to a routine: With your work life returning to normal, you may need to adjust your daily routine. Once you have found your groove again, try to stick to your routine each day, creating a sense of structure and predictability.

Looking to others for support

As you navigate these new challenges, it’s important to remember that you are not alone, and there are places you can look to for help and support.

Connecting with other small business owners who understand these circumstances can be helpful. You can exchange tips, advice and strategies on how to manage all these changes and stressors. Below are some suggested places to connect with other small business owners:

  • Local business chambers: Search online for your local business chambers and take a look at their resources and events designed to support you and your business throughout COVID-19. There may be some local support you weren’t aware of. You can start by looking at the main business chamber in your state: NSW, ACT. VIC, QLD, TAS, NT, SA, or WA.
  • Business networking groups: Find out if there are any business networking groups in your area, or one you can join online. These groups often provide the opportunity to support other small business owners and address challenges.

If you are having a tough time adapting to the new restrictions, it’s a good idea to talk to someone about your mental health. Among the services you can utilise are:

  • Talk to your GP: Your GP is a great starting place as they can provide advice about next steps, and refer you to a counsellor or psychologist if needed. If you don’t have a regular GP, you can find one in your area here.
  • New Access for small business owners: Beyond Blue developed this program to connect small business owners with a trained coach who has a small business background. They understand your particular circumstances and work with you to overcome the challenges you’re facing.
  • COVID Helpline: Beyond Blue has also developed a Coronavirus mental wellbeing support service. Call 1800 512 348 and a trained counsellor can provide you with support and advice.
  • Online resources: There are many places you can find additional mental health support and information relating to COVID-19, such as Beyond Blue, Black Dog Institute, Health Direct, and Ahead for Business.

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