Canadian franchisors and franchisees share how they focus on their well-being during difficult times
By Lauren Huneault
There’s no question that since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020, Canadian business owners have been facing major challenges in the day-to-day operations of their businesses. From forced closures to strict regulations, all business owners have had to adapt to the many measures put in place, while finding innovative ways to continue to operate.
When faced with such business challenges, it’s not uncommon for owners to put their full focus on the business to try to overcome these obstacles. However, the health of the business owner can be at risk if they put their own personal needs and concerns aside for the sake of their business. This will ultimately also have negative consequences for the business as a result.
Alethea Austin is the co-founder and CEO of Achieve Wellness Spa, which provides guests with a “luxurious and calming experience and helps our guests with all of their wellness needs, from nutritional advice and infertility treatments, to skin care, physical therapy, and massage.”
Austin says this is undoubtedly an incredibly stressful period for owners, making it more important than ever to make time to focus on their mental and physical health. “With all of the continued closures and changing consumer trends over the past 14 months, franchise and business owners have been under chronic stress and constant change. Now more than ever, business owners need to focus on their own health and wellness to remain resilient during these times.”
Steve Collette, CEO of 3rd Degree Training, agrees and says that “Your health as a business owner should be the top priority. This has been a challenging year for many, and staying focused as leaders in our businesses has never been more important! Physical and mental health are certainly connected: staying active, eating well, and taking time to focus is very important. You’re a very important part of your business; it’s important to treat yourself that way,” he advises.
Tips from the experts
Collette says his 3rd Degree Training franchisees have been helping “Canadians stay healthy and fit through the pandemic and lockdowns by providing online virtual classes and personal training, being able to have an instructor or trainer-led exercise programs from the comfort of their homes, and this has been a very successful service!”
He advises all business owners to carve out the time necessary to focus on their physical and mental health. “Black the time out, with no exceptions. If you plan your week with exercise and meal planning,then your chances of success, and that you’ll ‘stick to it,’ far exceed those when ‘winging it.’ And you don’t have to do it alone! There are many programs out there, including 3rd Degree Training, that specialize in this. It’s never too late to start! You can literally start right now,” explains Collette.
Austin echoes Collette’s advice: “Schedule, schedule, schedule! if you book time into your schedule, then you will make time for yourself!”
“Get enough sleep, take time to meditate, reflect, and plan, and get monthly massages and monthly facials with a good skin care routine in order to avoid the now common skin problems from mask use,” she adds.
10 minutes is all it takes
At the Canadian Franchise Association’s (CFA) Elevate and Empower virtual event focused on women in franchising, Sara Hodson, president and CEO of LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic, noted that even just 10 minutes of moderate physical activity can make a huge difference in improving your mental health.
“An enjoyable walk for 10 minutes actually changes the chemistry and physiology of our bodies and can help to improve our mood,” she explains. “We have this amazing tool in front of us of our bodies that can actually help us to deal with our mental health and to provide us with that self care.”
Hodson notes that even moderate exercise has helped her in dealing with feelings of anxiety brought on by the pandemic. “So just finding those 10 minutes is the best encouragement that worked for me and that I know can work for other people. Literally, I would stop shaking and I would feel better. In 10 minutes, to be able to transition your mood is really powerful,” she says.
Finding motivation in challenging times
Beyond the tips for mental and physical health mentioned above, there are many other ways to unwind, and places to find motivation, especially during challenging times like these.
Throughout the past two seasons of the Franchise Canada Chats podcast, we’ve asked members of the Canadian franchising community, both franchisors and franchisees alike, what’s helping them to get through the pandemic, and how they’re putting themselves first. Here are some of their insights:*
*To listen to the full episodes of Franchise Canada Chats seasons 3 and 4, visit the Listen page!
“I’ve been doing a lot of reading. I’ve also been binge-watching television shows on Netflix. I’ve been exercising. So those are some of the things I’m doing to calm down, because it is an uncertain time for most families.”
“My mind was going to these really dark places, and all of a sudden, one day I just woke up and I thought, ‘You’ve got to be strong right now. You need to be sound of mind, you need to be healthy, you need to be clearly thinking, and you need to be an example, not just for your kids, but for the people you’re in business with and your franchisees.’ I [decided] to try to focus on being healthy by eating really healthy, by exercising, by actually going to therapy and talking my problems through, and by joining support groups. It’s been almost four months and I feel so much better and so much stronger, and more capable of dealing with these challenges that are coming … I feel better now than I did when this whole thing started because being healthy and physically active and all of those things are required now more than ever, I think. I would really say that right now, living a clean lifestyle is going to benefit anybody who’s struggling.”
“I love reading and I’m reading an amazing book right now, Start With Why, by Simon Sinek. As I go through different Audible books, you can either read them or listen to them through Audible, I share them with my team as well, and I have a lot of franchisees who listen to them. That one to me is amazing and I think it’s a great way for each of our franchisees to understand a little bit more about me and why I make the decisions I make for the company. I listen to and read these books as opportunities to share different training resources with my team, to help them with their business, as well.”
“I love music. In addition to Ctrl V, I own a music production company. We would put on live shows, and we’ve switched to virtual shows. So, there’s a lot of that stuff – representing artists, listening to music, writing music, recording music. I kickbox, I do competitive billiards, I run, I play competitive basketball, I’m in a rock band – you name it! I’ll watch Netflix, or Amazon Prime. I keep super busy; there’s lots going on.”
“We live on the Ottawa River, so we tend to spend a lot of time outside. We spend time walking or ice fishing or snowmobiling. We like to get outside and do things like that, just to kind of relieve some of the stress of being inside all the time. We spend a lot of time researching and discussing our business as a family. But at other times, we just need to get outside and blow off some steam in our little country setting that we live in.”
It’s important to remember that every person and every body is unique, and while these tips may be helpful to some, they’re not exhaustive and may not provide the right solution for everyone.
The following mental health resources may also be useful tools for supporting your emotional well-being, along with that of your employees:
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety: https://www.ccohs.ca/healthyminds
Canadian Mental Health Association: https://cmha.ca
Centre of Expertise on Mental Health in the Workplace: https://www.canada.ca/en/government/publicservice/wellness-inclusion-diversity-public-service/health-wellness-public-servants/mental-health-workplace.html
Government of Canada Mental Health and Wellness Resources: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/topics/mental-health-wellness.html