The financial demands of living with the weight of student loans and aspirational goals of achieving career successes and a securing a work-life balance is tough. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and overworked.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has called stress the “health epidemic of the twenty-first century,” estimating that work-related stress costs American businesses $300 billion annually in sick leave. Though WHO cites poor management and heavy work loads as the main causes of work stress, it is important to create a regimen that enables you to recoup from these stressors.
We interviewed a few hustlers working in the notoriously exhausting (but rewarding!) entertainment industry to get a grasp on their personal de-stress regimens. Try introducing the following into your busy schedule. We promise these little tips might become your new saving grace for productivity, mindfulness, and contentment.
Leave your desk and go for a short walk.
We like to break up our work day with walks around the neighborhood. Find a relaxing walk surrounding your office, or walk to a park and enjoy the sun! Too busy to step away from your desk? There is always something to be done at Something Social, so one of our account coordinators likes to use these walks as time to focus on more relaxed daily tasks such as outgoing engagement or brainstorming. This promotes circulation, vitamin D absorption, and energy levels while combating depression. If you really can’t step away, try doing push-ups or planks or squats in the copy room. One assistant says this helps him “calm the nervous system and diminish the release of cortisol and the fight or flight response.”
Practice breathing exercises
Whether it’s steady, eyes-closed meditation or simply turning your attention inward on your breath, studies have shown practicing deep breathing steadies blood pressure, releases toxins, and strengthens ab muscles. (Score!) But like drinking water or taking your birth control, the little things can be difficult to remember in this busy life. A social media manager at The Television Academy recommends getting Siri’s help. ”No joke I have an alarm that goes off at 3pm everyday that says BREATHE. So I’ll count to 6 while breathing in. Hold 2 seconds, and then let it all out. It helps me recenter. It’s a way for me to show up for myself. If I don’t show up for myself first, I am in no position to show up for my boss, or friends or dating life.”
Create encouraging reminders to overcome obstacles and achieve your goals.
Every job has it’s harder moments, but it’s important to remember why you’re in this business! A Talent Assistant at CAA has “a Smile folder where I put work emails that either make me happy/laugh or remind me why I do what I do.” She recommends printing out some fun images to hang up at your desk or cubicle to keep you in good spirits during tough times. She sent us this Buzzfeed list of silly alpacas to get you started. We can’t deny it beats the end of day blues.
An Executive Producer at TNT likes to bolster his gratitude to get him through the tough times.“I try to focus on the better parts of the business: helping make good stuff better, and trying to help other folks out.” He sets reminders on his phone to push him to support those around him. “They say: “How can I support someone I know?” and “Remember that even the smallest projects [in this business] can touch thousands of people.” Those remind me to not get mired in the pain of pushing metaphorical boulders up the mountain every day.”
Unsurprisingly, this was the top suggestion! A showrunner’s assistant at CBS appreciates yoga to encourage physical mindfulness.“You have to focus on and be in your body, which for me really helps shed the stress of constantly checking your phone for calls, text or emails.” But this raved over exercise isn’t just for work week stress. “I also specifically love hot yoga because sweating that much really flushes you out, it’s actually great for hangovers.” Margs tonight, hair of the Downward Dogs tomorrow.
There are so many methods of yoga practice, it can be overwhelming to start. In addition to classes and videos, one assistant shared her nightly routine. ”I spend five minutes before bed doing just one yoga pose, but doing it for 5-10 minutes. It’s really taught me how to be present and focus on one task.” Try bringing your favorite pose or flow home with you tonight.
Experiment with creative activities.
Many of us in Los Angeles work in creative industries, so it seems natural that your go-to destressor might not be a creative outlet. You aren’t feeling creatively starved, after all. Several assistants encouraged doing creative work unrelated to your career path. Try practicing guitar, baking, or taking yourself on an Artist’s Date. An assistant at Sony suggests you “go to a museum, see a movie alone, or drive somewhere with some good tunes.”
Play video games.
Call it escapism if you want, but sometimes the best release is getting out of your head and into another’s. One coordinator recommends playing “games that are story-driven like What Remains of Edith Finch or meditative games like Journey or Flower.” Sometimes stepping away from the source of your stress is a great way to decompress. Think of it as a stay at home vacation in an infinite number of fictional universes! Stay tuned for our upcoming article on Fostering Mental Health Digitally. We’ll be introducing you to a few apps and games that might help you take the load off.
Schedule time for self-care.
Don’t just promise yourself you’ll do it. Schedule time for yourself so you’re less likely to blow it off for something your brain mind convince you is more important. This time can include incorporating a bubble bath or DIY spa day into your weeknights, enabling yourself to eat healthy, nutritious meals through meal prep planning or avoiding greasy takeout options, or remembering to drink water. A Production Assistant at Netflix uses essential oils and CBD oil drinks to combat symptoms of her mental health. “These have helped me to try and feel mostly human in some harder moments or unexpected bouts of anxiety and depression.”
Remember to sleep!
Arianna Huffington (CEO of The Huffington Post) is a HUGE advocate for getting adequate sleep. After years of over-exerting herself in an effort to keep up with her career, Huffington fainted from exhaustion at her desk. Literally! (She got five stitches for her broken cheekbone!) Now she has one of the most elaborate pre-sleep routines probably ever and we’re totally here for it. Check out her incredible Ted Talk here.
Go off the grid.
As a social media management company this one is the most difficult but most important methods to implement. At home, be conscientious of your screen time. The virtual world is an incredible place, but it is also important to take time to be present.
Mental Health goes beyond stress management. Make sure that you’re not only de-stressing, but also practicing good coping skills when you are thrust into the flames. It is difficult to keep calm in the midst of chaos, but this is a skill and should be practiced and honed as such!
And the most important to emphasize is that you seek help if and when you need it. One in five Americans experience a mental illness, and on average, Americans let Mental Illnesses go untreated for ten years. Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Choose yourself and prioritize your mental health.
Written by our Brand Communications Coordinator, Kaeleigh Morrison.