Okay, so first to point out that this blog post is essentially stream of consciousness, a cathartic blurt that is hopefully useful for me and others that may read it.
Why is a little catharsis required? I think I can pinpoint a moment last week when I felt that “ahh fuck, really?” moment.
We were planning a team vision day; a long overdue six-monthly pause in the ‘day-to-day’ where Idenna stops and takes stock of where we are and where we are headed. It was planned for Tuesday 3rd November in a local parish hall and we were looking forward to it (I’d also spent a good chunk of a scheduled holiday working on it). It was good timing; six months since the beginning of the first lockdown.
Then, we were hit with lockdown 2.0. We couldn’t go ahead with it in good faith as planned and I simply wouldn’t run it online – a lot of the day was around the significance of “the being of team” and we were all suffering a little from too much screen time. A full day on Skype? No thanks.
So, the stress I felt as a consequence of postponing was likely a frustration from the perpetual game of the ‘Hokey Cokey’ our nation is becoming accustomed to being locked into. Stop, start, open, close, launch, mothball (worth pointing out here Idenna has been open and busy throughout, but man, have the client briefs come in thick and fast and subject to change at lightning pace).
Our important event was scuppered (for now). Further, this Hokey Cokey is underwritten by uncertainty and a lack of control in our lives. For some, uncertainty and a lack of control is frustrating, but for others it can be debilitating, and all of this can lead to burn out. Things to look out for would be: stress; feeling a lack of patience or empathy; feeling confused by things you are not normally confused by; feeling like life is making less or no sense; feeling like you are unable to offer your help to your friends and colleagues; a lack of energy; uncertainty or a reluctance to chip in and support others or understand their perspective.
If the above sounds familiar then my advice first and foremost is to speak to someone – do not suffer in silence! Secondly, take some time out to recognise and think about your emotions and how you feel. I have noticed on a number of occasions, both client-side and when I’m with friends and family, that I feel like I’m having Hocus Pocus conversations – ones where I’m honing in on and being distracted by the tiny little worries and concerns that seem burning hot and troublesome. These smaller issues are essentially sign posts back to bigger picture problems i.e the sentence “I’m really worried about sharing that Facebook post” is said at stress level 10 when in reality they probably meant to say, “this is the second time I’ve had to close my fucking business.”
I’m hearing a lot people stressed about wasting their time. Of course you are – we have all just spent the best part of a year doing the Hokey Cokey. So, my plea is to take some time out to see beyond the Hocus Pocus. What are you really worrying about; madness in American politics? Your children’s schooling? When to switch your laptop off at the end of the day? When things will be normal again?
In the face of all this stress there really has been some awesome and remarkable stuff going on; resilience, love, support, kindness. Most of all (to my mind), the opportunity to reframe and reimagine our world and solve some of our problems in the here and now has been mega, but there’s also potential to find the energy, resolve and resource to solve some of the world’s bigger problems.
We put a document together in March, outlining some key storytelling themes we felt would be reflected over the ensuing months. They hold true to this day.
You can see it here.
If you are stressed and on the brink of burning out, speak to someone and reflect on your emotions. What is driving how you feel?
On a personal note, it’s worth pointing out that 2020 was truly awful for so many individuals, families, businesses and communities – I don’t think we’ll ever forget that. However, there was also a lot of amazing things that happened this year and I know for Idenna, we strengthened an already galvanised team and delivered some of our best ever work. I literally couldn’t be more proud of everything the team has achieved this year.