Working late? That’s “agency life”. Need to complete a ten page report yesterday? That’s “agency life”. Got more work on than you can realistically fit in the working day? Don’t worry, that’s just “agency life!” Hands up who has heard these words thrown around the office before?
According to a study from Workfront, one out of every four marketers say they experience “high stress” on a daily basis, with an overwhelming 80 percent of study participants saying they’re seriously overloaded with work.
It’s no secret that the marketing industry is a stressful place to be, but with a bigger focus than ever before being placed on our mental wellbeing, it seems like the tide is slowly turning on the out-dated “agency life” mentality. However, it can still feel like there is a battle to be won within the industry as a whole.
At Democracy, and many modern agencies, support internally and externally is widely offered and spoken about for anyone who feels they may need it – whether it’s a trip for a coffee and chat, flexible working, or the 24 hour external helpline offered by our healthcare partners, Westfield Health.
No longer are we expected to “swan” – a metaphor for gliding gracefully on the surface but paddling furiously beneath the water – through our working days, nights and weekends, and we are able to acknowledge publicly, without feeling ashamed, that it’s ok to not be ok.
Today is World Mental Health Day, a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. As part of this, we’ve collected tips from around the office on our favourite ways to cope with stress at work, home and being the best version of ourselves in an industry we love.
When things are getting too much, just talk to someone. A problem shared is a problem halved. As soon as I speak the words out loud I feel better and the stress I’ve created and made into a big deal in my head has depreciated… It’s OK to talk!
– Lauren Veevers, News Editor
Have a hobby – throwing yourself into an activity that’s all-consuming when you leave work has the effect of ‘switching’ you mentally in an instant. I take 30 kids for football training on a Tuesday and no matter what kind of day I’ve had, they demand and get all my attention within 10 minutes of leaving work and I’m always in a better place afterwards. They give me perspective.
Walk/exercise – a lunchtime walk in the fresh air, a seat in the park, walking home at the end of the day all have the effect of calming you down, and as you calm, your brain starts to process what’s happening or has just happened in a more orderly way, allowing you to think and see solutions you couldn’t previously. You are no longer in panic mode – when your brain thinks ‘fight or flight’ you don’t make the best decisions.
– Graeme McGilliard, Insight and Strategy Director
Yoga! Yoga is something that has massively put my anxiety at bay over the years. When looking after so many clients and projects, it’s easy to take things personally if there is a lot going on or if things don’t always go to plan.
Yoga practise allows me to go into class, set an intention for my practice and let go of any worries/anxieties my day may have brought (plus it’s a great workout!)
– Sophie Massey, Digital Executive
Internally at work, I like to plan my time out as much as possible. As a former, very overwhelmed ‘yes-aholic’, I now use a time management tool to physically block my team’s and my own time for meetings and work we need to get through – it’s amazing how much easier it is to say no, or push back deadlines when you can physically show someone your time as a well-presented colour-coded chart!
I’ve also found meditation helps to calm my brain when I’m overwhelmed – taking five minutes to focus on your breathing in a quiet place makes so much difference. Apps like Calm, Headspace and Journey provide a great starting point, and following pages that promote positivity on social media can make a massive difference to your day!
– Becci Fahey, Digital Strategist
As we’re re-visiting clichéd agency phrases, we may as well mention “It’s not ER, it’s PR!”. One that’s actually worth remembering! Perspective in the workplace is important.
If something doesn’t go the way you planned it’s not the end of the world – nobody is going to die if your press release isn’t picked up because a bigger story landed on the same day, or your tweet didn’t go viral. It’s so important to take a step back from the immediate panic and calm down in order to think logically about how you will proceed.
Part of working for an agency means you have a constant hive of great minds around you to bounce ideas off, re-strategise and find solutions together if needed. With clients constantly telling us they appreciate honesty above all else, it’s more than acceptable to confess when something doesn’t go as planned, and explore a different route – it might even end up performing better than the first plan!
– Caroline Aspinall, Commercial Director
While support within the industry is vital, there are a number of external support resources to turn to if you’re concerned about your own mental or emotional state, or if you’re worried about someone you know.
You’re never alone; talk to someone you trust. Sharing a problem is often the first step to recovery.