Q&A: Dr. Valencia Agnew on Recharging when You are Emotionally Drained

How has the pandemic impacted our mental health overall?

There is so much more anxiety, depression, and even substance abuse and domestic abuse. People are experiencing trauma from the global grief and loss. Even though we may not know the 500,000 who have died from COVID, or gotten sick or experience a loss, it still resonates with us. There is a lot of fear — it reminds us that we could still get sick, or it could be a loved one. If we are around people, we may worry that we could be a carrier. There are also a lot of political and racial tensions right now. We may have survivors guilt, compassion fatigue, burnout. We’re emotionally drained. It’s a lot.

What can we do throughout our day to care for our mental health right now?

It’s more than being self-aware. You have to pay attention and check-in. You can’t always get what you need from the environment around you. It might be taking a day off, it might be helping someone else, or allowing the dishes to sit for a day because it will be OK if you don’t do the dishes. You have to be intentional. Soak in the bath, take a walk, eat a little healthier, get better sleep. We have to pay attention to those things. 

Business owners are very relied upon- — their employees, clients, families and communities depend on them. What advice do you have for business owners who are really struggling and feeling the mental and emotional strain of all of this?

I want to say, “pack your backs and go to Hawaii and run your business on the beach!” (laughs), but that isn’t real. Being able to laugh about that can make the difference between “I’m overwhelmed,” and “I can do this.” Leave space to laugh, to cry. Get a group of other business owners that you can talk to and identify with. You have to be intentional and deliberate with your time and make sure you schedule that in.

What can we do as we come out of this to make sure that we all have a small business culture and workforce that is emotionally and mentally sustainable?

We need to have a culture that supports people being OK. Our team talks about trust and conflict a lot and that allows us to have difficult conversations. We divide and conquer when checking in with each other, and we check in often. We are deliberate about calling and texting (not email). Business owners also need to have someone check in on them. Be deliberate, ask someone to check in on you regularly. That is so important.

Click here to sign up for our interactive webinar with Dr. Agnew to learn tools you can use to stay mentally and emotionally well as your run your business through stressful times.