Statistics show that one in four adults experience mental illness and the situation is being made worse during the coronavirus outbreak.

BusinessCloud held a virtual roundtable with 10 entrepreneurs and business leaders to find out how they were looking after their mental health and wellbeing during these uncertain times.

Sam Jones is managing director of Manchester-based social media and video marketing agency Tunafish Media. In 2017 he opened up about his battle with anxiety. He said: “The one positive about being locked down is I rarely drink in the house. I don’t think I’ve had a drink in the last week! I spoke at a mental health event last year and this guy said the best thing he did for his mental health was get a dog and that was what I did. I made a list last week of all the jobs I’ve been meaning to do and I’ve been blitzing through that.”

Nicola Rigby is a director of Avison Young and has forged a reputation as a top-tier adviser on strategic regeneration, delivery and implementation. She said: “I’m having video calls with my team and I’m consistently trying to give the same message. Being disciplined with the news is really important. I spent a couple of days last week consuming so much information it was terrifying. I’m saying to my guys ‘it’s not about how many hours you’re spending working right now but identifying the one job you’ve got to get done today.  The most important thing for me is it’s ok to feel a bit scared. We’re honest about it. By talking about it we know we’re all in it together. It won’t stop bad things happening but it will help us feel part of a network of people that are going through the same stuff. This is completely out of our control.”

Matt Carr is one of three brothers running third generation family business Carrs Pasties in Bolton. He said: “Keeping networks is really important. For example I’ve got a board game night with friends who I mainly used to see in the pub. We get on Zoom and it’s a way of keeping in contact. During the day it’s important to keep your routine and ensure you’re trying to help as much as possible. If you’re an employer you have a responsibility to your employees’ mental health even when they’re at home. If you’re an employer at home you have an opportunity with your hours to see if you can help out remotely or volunteer and get on the frontline if you’re healthy enough.”

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David Chamberlain is the co-founder of automated video animation service Viddyoze. Earlier his year he wrote about his experiences as an entrepreneur suffering with anxiety and depression. He said: “Routine is really important. Having something to get up for and start your day. I like to build in a habit. It could be get up, make my bed, have a glass of water or do 10 press-ups. I like to start my day the right way. It’s also important to prioritise yourself for a couple of hours a week. Therapy and yoga are two of the things that I do. I’ve also started to look at the things I do right, the things that I’m good at.”

Rebecca Jayne is the group operations director at PH7 Wellbeing Centre. She previously ran her own businesses The Lady Detective Agency and is also an author, reality TV star and broadcaster. She said: “Put some structure in your routine, including your food and fitness. Keep communications open. Connect with people. Reach out yourself rather than wait for people to reach out to you.”

Marian Arnold-Lawson is an account manager at NABS charity and owner of business introductions events company. She previously worked in the advertising industry and said: “The key for me is routine because we’re all a bit out of our regular routine. Create a new one and stick to it. It will help create normality in these uncertain times.”

Elizabeth Bisby is the chief operating officer and company secretary at Manchester-headquartered OBI Property. She said: “Try and be balanced in what you eat and make sure you get some fresh air and exercise. Avoid just drinking. I’ve got plenty of time to cook now.”

Steve Kuncewicz is a partner at BLM Law and regularly appears in the media. He said: “Hold yourself up when you can and let other people hold up you up when you can’t. Take up martial arts. Know that you’re not alone and don’t be afraid to talk about it. The reason I say martial arts is it’s really good physical exercise and there’s a good mental health component to it as well.”

Former lawyer Michelle Walters, of Liverpool-based Evolve Consultancy International said: “I got a puppy. We decided one day to get a puppy and were lucky enough to be able to bring one home the next day.”

Entrepreneur Ian Wright is the founder of Virtualnonexecs.com, which helps businesses find non-executive directors (NEDs) without paying high recruitment fees. He said: “I think that accepting things are sometimes out of your own control and focusing on the things you can control helps. I also think that too many people believe anxiety and mental health issues are the preserve of the unsuccessful which it absolutely is not!”

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