How a Business Community Can Help Improve Mental Health

The importance of engaging within a community while remaining COVID-compliant seems to have faded. How can this be achieved while in lockdown or continuing to work from home.
Waterman coworking improves mental health

At the beginning of the pandemic many commentators talked about how, “we will get through this together,” but as days and weeks turned into months, these statements became harder to hold on to as the reality of work and social isolation became increasingly apparent.

Even now, the pandemic continues to affect us in significant ways with regulations constantly being revised and updated. Working from home can be a nightmare for some people. For some of us, isolation just doesn’t work for productivity or motivation, while others desperately need some peace and quiet from family to concentrate.

A coworking space can serve as a haven in this regard. As well as providing a professional space to get your thoughts in order, being around a tight-knit community that shares similar goals can ease your fears and give you the support you need to overcome the mental health challenges of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Navigating mental health challenges

A national survey published by The Medical Journal of Australia concluded that Australians’ mental health has suffered during COVID-19 given the significant adjustments people have had to do to cope with the “new normal.”

While working from home might have seemed attractive back in the days of normal (bring on the casual clothes and easy access to the fridge!), now that most of us have had our fill of making up a work table in the dining room or having to shut the door on the noise of homeschooling or possibly the noise of the neighbour’s “homeschooling”, we are desperate to get back to the office, our ergonomic chair, and having conversations around the watercooler.

What we notice is how much we need other people to help motivate us, and how heavily we rely on collaboration to steer us through difficulties. We took for granted how we can pop into another office to get advice and a new perspective.

Your productivity may also be impacted by the challenges of separating personal and professional life, it’s hard to prioritise your work when you have a huge pile of laundry reminding you it needs your attention every time you go to the bathroom.

Lack of privacy is also a stress factor. You never know if your blue-chip meeting is going to be hijacked by your toddler (who is supposed to be napping), or the dog going crazy because another online delivery has arrived. It’s not just embarrassing, we begin to feel dejected and out of control of our day-to-day routine.

Symptoms of anxiety are understandably more noticeable given the uncertainty, isolation, and drastic changes people are experiencing. Dealing with the “new normal” feels impossible at times and can be exhausting, but many of these negative effects can be alleviated by being part of a community that can pick you up when you’re down.

Community creates a positive loop

Connecting to a community can improve overall well-being as it gives you much-needed support and assistance in overcoming the obstacles you’re facing.

We are not alone in our feelings or our frustrations. By talking about our experiences and anxieties we release the built-up pressure and encourage others to share what they are going through too. Doing this will help you feel strong enough to help people in your community who are also struggling with their own hardships or business challenges.

This builds a positive loop: By prioritising your well-being and taking care of yourself in order to help others, you expand your mental bandwidth and capacity, which then encourages others to support you.

Pushing yourself beyond your limits and denying yourself the support system you deserve can increase your stress to unhealthy levels that can result in:

  • Feelings of fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Physical reactions (e.g. headaches, body pains, stomach problems, skin rashes, etc.)

This burden can be especially harsh for entrepreneurs, who often have an existing belief that they have to handle everything themselves because they are the only ones who understand their business. Rather than facing the limitations of going solo, having a community to rely on can help them succeed and find more opportunities for collaboration and creative problem solving, while easing the mental health stress they may be experiencing.

According to Mental Health Europe (MHE), socialising with others decreases stress and anxiety and boosts emotions of calmness and happiness. If you don’t currently have a dedicated office space then a flexible coworking space allows you to connect with others through a built-in community where you can gain a tangible experience of belonging with other professionals and entrepreneurs from different fields.

The inviting environment of a coworking space also encourages people to open up about the professional (and even personal) hurdles they’re going through, allowing others to come up with solutions together that best suit their situation.

We are all social beings by nature and community involvement gives us the sense of belonging and connection that we need. It also gives our lives meaning and purpose despite all the challenges the pandemic brings.

A community offers vital support during unprecedented times

Entrepreneurs and business owners need to have a circle of trusted friends, family, and colleagues (just like employees do). Giving and receiving support within a close-knit community, especially during hardship, can alleviate any difficulties a person may be feeling.

Before the pandemic, most people recognised the importance of having a social support system, and building them was easy, but during these unprecedented times, it becomes even more critical to reach out to others, join an established community and check in with yourself as well.

It can encourage you to actively listen and converse with others, giving you a sense of solidarity as you discover people going through similar challenges. It also provides a safe environment for you to share your own thoughts and experiences. Being in a community provides relief from negative emotions and encourages you to feel positive and productive.

No one should deal with mental health issues alone. Being in a supportive, nurturing community can ease the burdens you face. Further help is also available through services like Beyond Blue and Lifeline should you require professional assistance.

If being part of a caring community is what you need, book a tour of the Waterman Business Centre.

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