staying sane during the coronavirus outbreak

Staying Sane during the Coronavirus Outbreak: A Guide for Small Business

Lela Barker

As the coronavirus madness drags on, anxiety levels are likely to rise. It’s hard staying sane during the coronavirus outbreak. It’s challenging to remain positive when we’re out of our rhythm, financial pressure is mounting, and all the souls we typically love are locked in the house together. But it’s paramount that we protect our mental health during trying times and- Lord, have mercy- the month of March qualifies as a “trying time.”

Staying Sane During the Coronavirus Outbreak

I’ve not-so-affectionately dubbed the pandemic fallout “The CoronaCoaster.” It’s like the worst ride at Disney that your kids keep begging you to ride. It drags us up steep inclines, drops us swiftly without warning, and flips us upside-down until we’re ready to hurl. Let’s pray that this ride ends sooner rather than later!

While we don’t get to decide how fast the COVID-19 virus spreads, how our governments respond, or when the stock market will rebound, we have domain over quite a bit. Here are my best tips for harnessing our power, staying healthy during this unfortunate time-out, and using this downtime wisely.

the Dali Lama keeps us sane during the coronavirus outbreak

Need advice for your artisan business during the Coronavirus outbreak? I’ve compiled a list of actionable steps and my best business advice into a Coronavirus Action Plan for Small Businesses. I invite you to download a copy and put it to good use!


The stress and anxiety that COVID-19 has sparked are very real. It’s a heady combination of financial woes, a sudden lack of childcare, being out of our normal routines, worry for our loved ones, and a healthy dose of cabin fever. That’s a pretty toxic environment and- regrettably- we don’t have the choice to opt-out of this mess. So, starting right now, watching out for our mental health needs to be our #1 priority. 

1. Limit your intake of news. This is probably the most important aspect to staying sane during the coronavirus outbreak. A 24/7 cycle of catastrophic news is wildly unhealthy, and whatever is going to happen will happen whether we’re stalking CNN or not. Tune into our favorite news source for 15 minutes in the morning and another 15 minutes before bed. Other than that, tune it all out and get on with your day. Marinating in this mess won’t make it any better.

2. Keep as much of your routine as intact as possible. That consistency helps to minimize that disorienting feeling we’re all swimming in by triggering a sense of normalcy. Take a shower every morning and get dressed- just as you would on a regular day. Keep your kids in their routines (or establish new ones as needed). They find consistency calming, and easing their fears will lessen your stress, too. 

3. Get outside when you can. In the age of “social distancing,” that might mean parking yourself on your back deck or balcony to get some work done. Or taking the family on a walk or bike ride if you’re able. Try opening windows to listen to the birds. Get that sunshine in however you can- it’s good for the soul, and Mother Nature is the absolute best and recalibrating spirits. Good news: The National Park Service has waived all entrance fees until further notice. Not all public facilities will be open and social distancing is still in order, but it’s a great opportunity to enjoy some fresh air.

4. Stay in touch with those you love. You can help combat the feeling of isolation by calling friends, FaceTiming your parents, and get your social fix via social media. Pay careful attention to how each relationship and communication tool makes you feel and adjust accordingly. Whatever you do, don’t shut yourself away.

5. Consume happy things. Music has the power to change almost any mood, so build a playlist of all your favorites and host a dance party in your living room. Want to borrow the mine? Try the “Damn You, Coronavirus” playlist I built over the weekend. Feel-good TV can help, too. These family-friendly shows make me feel optimistic while affirming my faith in humanity.

6. If you suffer from depression, anxiety, or mental illness, be sure to stay connected to your health care providers. This isn’t an ideal time to stop your medications, and your therapist may be able to offer a phone or FaceTime session if your city is on lockdown. 

staying sane during the coronavirus outbreak with quotes from Elizabeth Gilbert


  1. Get your body moving. Exercise releases endorphins, and we’re all a bit endorphin-starved right now. Staying sane during the coronavirus outbreak means taking care of our physical health too. We’ll have to get creative at home until getting to the gym is once again realistic. Here are a few of my favorite at-home fitness sources.
  • The Fitness Marshall is my go-to guy when I need to sweat out some stress. Start with Meghan Trainor’s “Me Too” video– you’ll laugh and burn some calories at the same time!
  • NYC-based dancer Conor McKenzie is the guru of stretching and flexibility. Become a Patreon supporter for just $10 a month and unlock instant access to 50+ stretch routines. 
  • Yoga with Adriene offers hundreds of free YouTube yoga tutorials across a broad range of skill levels. 

2. Be mindful of your energy. Nervous energy is some of the most contagious energy around, and it’s never helpful. Be attuned to how your body is processing stress and stay mindful of the media you consume. Take a break when you feel overwhelmed- give yourself a change of scenery via some sunshine time, make a meal you love, soak in a hot bath, or a call a girlfriend who gives stellar advice.  

My favorite app for combatting overwhelm is Calm. Enjoy a library of guided meditates, simple deep breathing exercises, and a suite of soundscapes to lull you to sleep. You can try a 7-day free trial at any time. 

3. Surround yourself with positive voices. There’s a small army of smart, brave women whose work I enjoy regularly, though I lean on it especially heavily in times of increased anxiety. They write books and blogs and host podcasts that help keep me sane and breathe a wee bit easier when it seems like the bad news is accumulating faster than I can process it. Maybe they’ll prove helpful to you, too.

staying sane during the coronavirus outbreak with quotes from Tina Fey


Remember all those times that we said…

“Gosh, I wish things would slow down so I could spend more time with the kids.

“I’m exhausted- I’d give anything for a chance to sleep in!”

“I’ve been meaning to get around to doing _____ forever, but there’s never enough time.”

Well, now we have plenty of free time on our hands! This is a unique moment, and the more we try to lean into instead of fighting against it, the less exhausting the time in our lives will be.

For a few weeks, we’re going to sleep in. Chill in our pajamas. Hang out with the fam. Cuddle all the dogs. Cook some good meals. Catch up on our Netflix. There are worst fates in the world, and this kind of downtime is something we typically covet. No- we likely wouldn’t have requested it right now. Or prefer that t last this long. But we’re going to be okay.

If you’re struggling to stay sane during the coronavirus outbreak, try jotting down three things you’re grateful for each night just before bed. Whatever you focus on, grows. So in this moment of turmoil, focus on the blessings we do have, no matter how simple they may be.

Don’t forget your customers and fans are rooting for you too. Engage with them. Remind them how much you appreciate them because that gratitude for them is always a great way to lift your spirits. While you are at it, allow them the opportunity to help you and promote your brand.

Together with Angie of Team Lucky Break, I created a series of graphics you can share with your Instagram audience to help them understand the importance of small business and how they can help you in this moment.

I’ve tucked a preview of that graphics package below, and you can click here to access the graphics. Simply hit the airplane button just below the image to share on your profile!

Coronavirus and small business impact


Entrepreneurs are always spinning 8,416 plates in the air at a time. We’ve been presented with an opportunity to buckle in and tackle all those business tasks that seem to fall through the cracks. Here’s my shortlist of tasks that are smart focuses until life returns to normal.

  • Digging into Price-O-Matic to review and lock down your pricing strategy.
  • Catching up on your bookkeeping.
  • Hosting a DIY photoshoot to create a library of brand imagery for social media.
  • Reading that pile of business books that have been collecting dust.
  • “Banking” future content for email marketing and your blog.
  • Combing through your copy for typoes, running broken link checks and assessing the speed of your website.

Deeeep breaths, we’re here for you, and we’re cheering you on. How can we help?


About the Author

Lela Barker

Lela Barker hails from the deep-and-dirty south (ATL, represent!), where she spends her days helping makers and product designers navigate the pitfalls of product pricing, brand development, and wholesale strategy. She launched her apothecary brand in 2003 and bootstrapped the hell out of that little business to cultivate a portfolio of 1500+ stockists worldwide, generating $12million in revenue and establishing successful distributorships in the Middle East, EU, Scandinavia, and South Korea. Lela is the keeper of a well-worn passport and the maker of the finest lemon meringue pie you’ve ever put in your mouth.

6 responses on “Staying Sane during the Coronavirus Outbreak: A Guide for Small Business

  1. Sigrid McGauley

    Is so important right now to keep our mind and body healthy and have a positive attitude, using this time to (finally) work on my SEO, writing more blog posts to help my audience and adjust the sails where need it 🙂

  2. Brandy

    Thank you for all the reminders to be grateful for this extra time, I think reminders to look for the silver lining are always, ALWAYS appreciated right now.

  3. Melissa

    Yes, so much here to keep us healthy! I’m bookmarking this list to come back to anytime I’m feeling overwhelmed or run-down. Thank you for such a great list of resources and ideas.

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