My latest blog focuses on the approaches that we can use to survive and thrive despite the pressures and challenges of running your own business. Never has this been more relevant as business owners (which includes me!) struggle to come to terms with the Coronavirus.

My blog will challenge your thinking. It is only by pushing beyond the limits of our beliefs that true growth occurs.  The same old approach, the same old outcome is a truism!

As I mentioned in my recent blog, the pressures of running your own business can be intense and for many, they struggle to cope and feel completely overwhelmed. Many business owners will today have their head in their hands as they grapple with the enormity of the Coronavirus crisis. However, no matter how anxious or hopeless you feel, no matter how burnout or trapped, there is always a solution to be found and peace of mind. Even relief from the constant torment of the mind.

I can hear you say now “no, it is hopeless in my situation.  It is just impossible”. However, believe me when I say that this is just your mind’s perception. If I have learnt anything from my own experiences of running my own business for over 25 years, the mind’s perception is not reality.  Instead, it is just your mind’s interpretation of reality which may be completely different from the perception of others!

Our greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another. – William James

You are convinced your perception of reality is accurate of course and herein lies the problem. Every thought and decision that is made is based upon this false perception; from a mind clouded by anxiety, fear and despair and the negativity these create (e.g. depression, paranoia).

How can my thoughts not be a reality?  That is ridiculous!

Okay, so answer me this question.  How then can two people that are facing the same issue see things differently?  One seeing an opportunity and the other a threat. It is because they are looking at the issue through a different lens.  Their perception is different. One’s cup is half full and the others half empty!

As Eckhart Tolle explains “the primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it”. He stresses “don’t seek yourself in the mind” and by extension don’t seek reality in the mind.

So where does my journey begin?

The same place mine did. By opening your mind to the possibility that what I say is true and being willing to read on!  Also, by being willing to challenge your thinking, your own bias and prejudice (which you are often completely unaware that you have). You also have to want to end the pain and suffering you feel because you are going to have to make changes and they may not all be comfortable. However, as you know from New Year resolutions, without complete commitment and determination, goals soon fizzle out!

The real challenge that we all face when trying to change the way things are, is putting our plans into action.  Knowing what to do and doing it are two different things completely.  All I can do is open the door but you need to be willing to step through. That said, I am more than happy to guide you on your journey as others have guided me.

When does my journey begin?

Now of course. No time like the present!  I have suggested a few approaches below that from my own experience will help you better cope, will strengthen your resilience and bring back a passion for life. It will also help you see that we will beat Coronavirus and that life will once again become positive (albeit it may never be quite the same again).

My list is not a definitive, but hopefully a useful starting point for your journey. So, here we go…


Jon Kabat Zinn defines mindfulness as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally”.  Paying attention to what is going on around us (e.g. the team member that is talking to us on Skype, the birds singing, our children playing). Also, by noticing what is going on inside – our breathing, sensations in the body, awareness of our thoughts and emotions as a witness.

For most of us, most of the time, we are not at all mindful.  In fact, we are completely absorbed with the story and drama going on in our mind.  The endless stream of thoughts about “I” and “me”. Constantly judging ourselves and others.  Just notice as you walk down the road how many judgements you make – that person looks scruffy, I wish I could afford a car like that, look at those idiots that are not self-isolating or hoarding the loo roll!

For many of us, this constant stream of thoughts is completely unhelpful, pointless and downright harmful.  They are laden with guilt, resentment or dissatisfaction with the past or tainted with fear and anxiety of what has yet to come.  We are trapped in the past and the future and never become aware of the “here and now” (or very rarely).

Mindfulness is a practise that we can adopt that helps us live in the moment and find relief from the pain and suffering caused by our mind.  With greater clarity of mind, free of guilt, anxiety and fear, we are much better equipped to meet the challenges we face. We no longer see through a lens of negativity. We see reality.

As I explain in my blog about mindfulness – It’s all in the mind – it requires no faith or religious beliefs and isn’t a fad that will cost you money!  If you are intrigued to explore this further, check out this article from the NHS.

How can this help with the current Coronavirus crisis?  Because it helps you avoid getting swamped by the tsunami of fear about the future and what the full impact of coronavirus will mean.  Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean you bury your head or sit on your hands.  Quite the contrary.  It means you deal with what you need to deal with to move forward but free of panic and anxiety which will lead to poor choices, a lack of sleep and abject misery if you are not careful. Plan and act mindfully, and you will find tomorrow will take care of itself.

Physical Activity

Healthy body healthy mind.  It is well established, as MIND highlight, that physical activity is great for reducing stress and anxiety, improving the quality of life, re-building self-esteem, tackling fatigue and boosting positivity.

You don’t have to immediately sign up to the gym and flog yourself stupid.  You need a little self-compassion!  The biggest challenge is getting started so make that process as easy as you can. Find an exercise regime that you can ease yourself into and make sure you do not start judging your performance. That is mind-stuff again and not helpful!

If helping others is highly motivational, think about physical activity to raise money for charity (e.g. Marathon of Charity Run, Three Peaks Challenge).  If you have a purpose, you will feel much more motivated to commit time and effort.

As I struggle to find time to exercise in any formal way myself, I try and find the opportunity to exercise in more basic ways:

  • I won’t take the lift and will always take the stairs (no matter how many there are!).
  • Instead of parking in the middle of town, I park on the outskirts and walk-in.
  • I spend time with the kids outside as they force me to be active whether pushing the swing or chasing after the scooter!
  • Look for a hobby that keeps you active without you “exercising” – gardening, DIY, dancing, join a walking club.

All this has a compound effect. Once you start getting back into the habit it gets much easier and it will work wonders for your general health and state of mind.

Clearly, with Coronavirus, this is even more important.  There are many great posts of social media showing how all of us can exercise at home.  For me, I love the garden and DIY so I’ll be putting my energy into that as I socially isolate. I know it is hard to get started but you will be glad you did if you make the effort.

Kick those addictive bad habits

Many of the habits or addictive cravings we give in to are mechanisms we use to cope with fear and anxiety.  They only offer a brief respite though – a sticking plaster if you like.  The price of that short-term relief is also very high. Drinking too much, gambling, drugs, overeating, working constantly (workaholism), excessive exercise, are common examples.  Ultimately, these habits simply fuel the negative thoughts (e.g. guilt, inadequacy, depression, anxiety, hopelessness and despair), damage your health and rob you of the passion you need to overcome work and life’s challenges.  They simply create a downwards spiral.

This applies equally to workaholics (yes, this an addiction too!). Work is a distraction that helps us run away from, or avoid, negative thoughts or the reality we face.  However, excessive and obsessive work practises simply perpetuate and worsen the problems we face and lead us to burn out and destroy the important relationships that we need to for our wellbeing.

In the face of the Coronavirus outbreak, the risk is that worry and anxiety will drive is even further into our addictions.  I noticed that the booze aisle is the supermarket is empty and what does that tell you! Even workaholics will still find their fix – spending their days planning and compiling lists and developing strategies for when they return to work.  Over and over obsessive over the minor details as if they can honestly predict what tomorrow will bring.

Kick these addictions into touch now and see how quickly positivity starts to return. If addictions are serious, though, then seek help and advice and get the necessary support in place before you start the transformation. Your GP is a great starting point and many online forums that are anonymous and allow you to share your experiences with others in a safe way.

Put your passion into a hobby

Although I accept that some hobbies may now be hard to engage in (e.g. we can’t play footy, go Ball Room dancing, or take an exercise class) why not find a hobby that you can do at home. I’ve already mentioned others, such as gardening and exercising, but there are many others:

  • Meditation (it works for me). I do this most days and find its effects transformative. There are many great guided meditations on YouTube and you don’t need an app you have to pay for! As you become more accomplished you can meditate anywhere.
  • Crafts, art and even adult colouring books help distract you from worry over the virus.
  • Online gaming (but remember these are very addictive so practise moderation). Play online with friends, as this helps maintain social bonds, which are vital as we are all self-isolating.
  • Cooking and baking – try out some healthy food though rather than binging on cakes. Yes, yes, I know it is tempting but you can always get too much of a good thing!
  • Studying – learning is great fun and very rewarding and now is a great time to think about an online course. If you are forced to stay at home, what better way to spend your time that building your knowledge.
  • Get that painting and decorating done that you have been putting off for years! Do some pointing, power wash the flags and clean out those gutters.

Hobbies are a great way to practice mindfulness.  Concentrate on your hobby rather than reacting to the thoughts going through your mind. Get engrossed in your hobby and you will see how this calms the mind and reduces anxiety.

What I would say, is don’t binge on the news.  It will just make you completely miserable and destroy any positivity you have left.  Remember, no news is good news.  Watch just enough so you keep up to date with the steps you need to take to keep you and your loved ones healthy and safe but then turn it off!

A leap of faith

Yes, it may seem that a leap of faith is needed! I can understand that you may be sceptical about what I say.  Don’t worry, I was 15 years ago! The challenges we face from Coronavirus are immense and not least being locked indoors for weeks with our nearest and dearest as we worry about money and how we will pay the mortgage.  Never before will practising mindfulness be so important to help protect your wellbeing and those you love and care for.

I know that I may be challenging your view of the world and yourself and that this can be an uncomfortable experience.  However, I have experienced this transformation first hand and witnessed it in many other people. But it all starts with a willingness and determination to make changes and to open one’s mind.

If you want to find your mojo again and rekindle the energy and passion for driving your business forward, then join me on the journey. There is no better time than now!  I promise you; you will never look at anything in the same way again! You will also put yourself in the best possible position to exploit the opportunities that will arise as we come out the other side of the Coronavirus outbreak.

To find out about coaching and mentoring sessions with Jonathan Timmis please email [email protected] or call 07961674535.