I used to be a wallower. I used to love playing sad songs on repeat, lying in bed, looking out of windows, meandering and sighing heavily through parks on an autumn day. I would host the biggest pity parties, attendance 1. It was beautiful, albeit unbearable for everyone else. I felt very profound in these moments, out of a french movie, a woman of the world. People would notice my sad demeanour, would be in awe of just how well I could wallow: ‘wow, what a broad range of emotions she has, how well she sits with them’, is what I presumed was murmured as I slopped by. It was all very grand and romantic and it helped. It helped to let the emotions show, even if I did sometimes take advantage of the wallowing. It let me get it out. Like staring out of a car window when it’s raining, pretending to be the main character for a bit helped the journey go quickly.
Now, this wallow has become a lot less grand, more like watching The Office on repeat for an evening. Easy entertainment, repetitive and safe.
At SCA this week, we met with our mentors to discuss how our time has been so far, what could be improved and how we’re dealing with the workload: a collective emotional check-in. A common truth came out that the majority of us were finding it difficult to switch off. After school, or on weekends when we were meant to be having experiences or connecting dots, people instead found briefs floating around their heads. They’ve become our new infatuations and obsessions, for some even infiltrating sleep.
After this revelation, Honey spent the morning discussing different techniques for coping with heavy workloads, which have the danger of turning into burnout, an increasing problem within our industry. The key areas we touched on were:
- Boundaries; Setting boundaries on when we’re available either in-person or digitally means we can reclaim our time, it is clearer for ourselves as well as others, often improving the quality of work. There was a suggestion of doing this by letting everyone know you have football/ a club on say a Wednesday, this way everyone knows you’re not doing any work that evening.
- Mindfulness; Although an overused word, we discussed different forms, be it meditation, journalling or exercise. Doing something consciously brings the mind to the moment: “the past is where depression can be found and the future, anxiety”.
- Switching Off Devices; I remember watching this exposé on digital devices and how addictive they are. One quote I remember was “do you look at your phone before the loo in the morning, or after? Because they are the only two options”. We are constantly on devices, for work and leisure. Switching them off and cutting that stream of dopamine helps lower stress levels and takes us out of the fight-or-flight mindset. Also the fact that most tech giants don’t allow their kids to have phones might be something to take note of.
- Throwing A Pity Party; Deanna gave some advice that really hit my nostalgia and suggested that, sometimes, the best thing you can do is to just throw a pity party. Sit there, do whatever it is that you need to do and just wallow. Just for a little bit. Let it be, feel it, see it and then, let it go. This has been my default for a while and I have respect for the practice.
However, the advice that most stuck out for me came from Marc…
- Remember Why You’re Doing It; When things get overwhelming and you can’t see the end, remind yourself of what is driving you, why you started the journey and where it is you want to arrive. Might seem obvious, but, for me, it was quite revolutionary. The simple things usually are. Thanks, Marc!