How to Stretch Your Entrepreneurial Muscles While Social Distancing

If the COVID-19 pandemic has put some of your projects on hold, try these options to keep your skills sharp and help communities large and small.

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When you live life at the speed of an entrepreneur, the sudden switch from go, go, go to stay at home can be difficult. It’s necessary, of course, to stay home as much as possible to slow the spread of COVID-19, but humans aren’t wired to enjoy sitting around and doing nothing for weeks and months on end. Research shows that fewer social interactions, disrupted routines, and reduced physical activity can all have negative impacts on the health of your body and mind.

If you’ve been keeping up with the news, you might have noticed that some areas are beginning to reopen. Folks who are tired of being cooped up 24/7 for several weeks are venturing out to get some fresh air and see friendly faces. The importance of social distancing, however, hasn’t waned a bit, even in reopened places.

Fortunately, staying home to protect yourself and others doesn’t have to mean sitting in front of the TV all day. You can fight your quarantine fatigue by finding ways to engage with your community from a safe distance. If you’re looking for ways to sharpen your entrepreneurial skills, build connections with others, and help your community, try adding a few of these projects to this week’s to-do list.

1. Put your creative skills to work.

According to researchers in New Zealand, tapping into your creative side is good for you. It can help decrease your anxiety and stress, make you more resilient, and give you more mental and physical energy. And if you’re worried about having to draw or write poetry to reap these benefits, fear not: Creativity comes in so many forms.

Stretch your entrepreneurial muscles by challenging yourself to come up with a pie-in-the-sky business idea that could solve a problem you’re facing now that you work from home. Post a how-to video on Instagram for the great dinner you’re preparing with things you’ve found in your pantry. Or join the crafters all over the world who are making masks for friends, family, and healthcare workers who need them to stay healthy.

2. Help the environment from your own backyard, balcony, or sunny window.

Getting outside has myriad benefits — from getting much-needed vitamin D and moving your body to decreasing stress and improving your cognitive function. In some cases, you don’t even have to physically go outside to gain the benefits of nature. Working by a window with a view has been shown to positively impact your sense of well-being.

If you want to get outside, taking a (distance-appropriate) walk in the park can help you stay sharp. Consider taking it one step further by bringing gloves and a trash bag to pick up litter or growing native plants. Even one potted native plant on your balcony can attract native insects and birds.

“Many people feel stagnant and helpless right now,” says Great Rivers Greenway CEO Susan Trautman. “This is a great way to let people get fresh air, exercise, and scratch the itch of curiosity and exploration while being able to give back and feel a small sense of accomplishment.” According to Trautman, even counting birds from your window and reporting your results to a local conservation agency can help make a difference in your community.

3. Host virtual gatherings for business and fun.

While in-person gatherings are still widely discouraged, you can use your entrepreneurial gift for creating connections to bring people together virtually. Instead of attending a local networking event, for example, reach out to your contacts via email or LinkedIn to set up a virtual coffee. Meet with co-workers using your company’s video platform of choice to keep your office’s culture thriving.

Using these touchpoints to openly discuss the challenges you’re facing and wins you’ve experienced can help strengthen your relationships — even though you can’t meet up in person.

Virtual gatherings are just as important after business hours. Temporarily replace your weekly happy hour at the local bar with a Zoom meeting where participants can whip up their favorite craft cocktails at home. Celebrate a family member’s birthday with a contactless cake delivery from a local bakery in time to sing “Happy Birthday” via video.

No matter what you’re celebrating, use a bit of your extra time to prepare some games or discussion points to help everyone feel comfortable with the digital format.

Whether it’s making masks, engaging in creative problem-solving, hosting virtual watch parties, or planting trees, you can still improve your corner of the world during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. And once it’s safe to get back out there, you might find that some of these practices become part of your new normal.

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