Every morning, Leila Kashani waves good bye to her two-year-old, pretends to leave the house for work, and then sneaks into a back room with her laptop. The CEO and founder of Alleyoop, a direct-to-consumer beauty company based in West Hollywood, California, says she and her husband had to "get a little creative," to be productive during quarantine-- switching off on childcare duty every four hours.
It's unorthodox, but Kashani says such boundary-setting is vital to her new daily routine. Inc. asked a few other CEOs and entrepreneurs how they're taking care of their mental health in trying times.
Don't stop moving
Running can treat mood and anxiety disorders and can make you a better leader. Deeanne Akerson, CEO and co-founder of Oceanside, California based-maternity clothing company Kindred Bravely, jogs up to seven miles each morning. "I love running because it's so simple," she says, noting that running a company is comparatively complex. "It makes me relaxed, and I feel healthy and strong and powerful; it gets me out of my head."
If you don't already have a workout routine, that doesn't mean you can't start one now. It's just about finding the motivation, says Michelle Segar, Ph.D.; director of the University of Michigan's Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy Center. She says it begins with your "why." The human brain responds better to short-term rewards, so make sure your reason for exercising is tied to an immediate impact on your daily life, like improving your mood--rather than a comparatively vague long-term goal like avoiding heart disease.
Can't commit to a large block of workout time? Segar recommends squeezing in mini workouts where you can: Research shows that the results of exercise accumulate effectively throughout the day, the way snacking adds up to a whole meal, she says. And if you're running in a populous area, don't forget your mask.
Roll up your sleeves
Is it healthy to use work as a coping mechanism? Reactions to trauma "are exacerbated when we feel really helpless," says Melissa L. Whitson, an associate professor of psychology at the University of New Haven. "But when we can be innovative, that gives us some control, which is not only good from a business standpoint but from a mental health standpoint as well."
While many people are stress-baking, not everyone's banana bread can double as product R&D. Loren Brill, CEO and founder of NYC-based Sweet Loren's, says she's using her work-from-home time to create new products for her vegan, gluten-free, and organic cookie dough company. This isn't the first time Brill has taken advantage of a quarantine: while self-isolating during treatment for Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Brill concocted the idea of a vegan, organic cookie dough -- and Sweet Loren's was born.
Ask for help
Jolina Li, CEO of San Francisco-based Buzzybooth says she lost 50 percent of her revenue between March 23 and April 23 -- her hospitality-industry clients are no longer renting photo booths--and is trying to keep her company alive by focusing on the digital marketing sector. "To be quite honest, I've had several meltdowns," Li says. Luckily she's been able to lean on her fiancé, who is also an entrepreneur, for emotional support, but many others are in quarantine alone.
To combat the effects of social isolation, Whitson recommends connecting (safely) with others as much as possible. David Homes.com says he finds spiritual and social fulfillment through virtual church attendance with his family. And Bethany Iverson of The Coven--a Minneapolis co-working space for women and non-binary people--says she started working with a new therapist right before the crisis hit, which has helped her significantly.Mele, president of Norfolk-Virginia
Maintain a healthy diet (whatever that means for you)
Healthy eating is associated with greater levels of happiness, and in moderation, alcohol and caffeine can be part of a healthy diet.
"Caffeine can induce anxiety. Period." says journalist Murray Carpenter, who wrote a book on the drug called Caffeinated.
But, he says, everyone processes it differently, and what causes one person anxiety may not do the same for someone else. Brill, for example, has gone off coffee, saying it helps keep her anxiety under control. On the other hand, Laura Rea Dickey, CEO of Dallas-based Dickey's Barbecue Pit, says she's doubled her intake, for the same reason. Carpenter suggests experimenting to see what works best for you.
Meanwhile, Jacqueline Moore, CEO and founder of Milwaukee-based Creative Marketing Resources, recommends "more margaritas."