The creative industry, and especially those working in digital PR are often faced with many stressors. Whether it be meeting deadlines, KPIs or getting sassy responses from journalists. These sources of stress are incredibly likely to harm those workers and greatly affect their mental health. So, let’s look into why physical health and wellbeing is so important in the creative industry.
The UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines report states that we should be getting up from our desks every half an hour, and moving for at least one to two minutes. This is down to the fact that studies show sitting for long periods of time can lead to obesity, diabetes, and some types of cancer. Some research has even shown that sitting too long is the equivalent of smoking 1.25 packs of cigarettes daily.
Not only this, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that 6.9 million working days in a year were lost because of musculoskeletal disorders, injuries of the muscles, nerves, and joints. These can be prevented through undertaking more physical activity, and a sedentary lifestyle will only increase the risk of picking up one of these injuries.
If workers were to spend all day at their desks, the chances of this affecting their immune system and leading to more days off are very high. Poor physical health also risks piling on more pressure on the workers to make up for the days they missed. And so a vicious cycle begins!
Mental health also plays a large part in our ability to come up with new ideas and thrive in the creative industry. By taking care of ourselves first, we are allowed the freedom of expressing ourselves creatively.
Dr Giuseppe Aragona, GP and Online Doctor for Prescription Doctor, explains:
“Poor mental health affects many aspects of our life with the ability to work and think creatively one of them. When your mental health is suffering it’s hard to focus on much else other than how you are feeling, this is most especially the case with mental health illnesses such as anxiety and depression.
A few ways to try and increase your mental health, mood and wellbeing are to ensure you eating well and having a diet that is full of fresh fruit and veg. Exercise is a great way to try and boost your mood and improve wellbeing as the endorphins released should help you to feel more positive. Going outside regularly and getting fresh air into your body, blood and lungs will allow you to feel better especially if you are working from home. Perhaps the most important thing you can do is to make time for the things you love. Ring friends and family regularly. Speaking on the phone or seeing friends in real life, laughing and having fun boosts our feel-good hormone, serotonin.”
Increasing our daily activity will have profound effects on our bodies. This activity can include a complete exercise regime or low-impact cardiovascular movements such as water aerobics. It doesn’t even need to necessarily be physical either, mental activity is just as important as moving your body.
There are also many mental benefits coming from increased activity. Research by the University of Georgia has shown that just 20 minutes of exercise a day can increase brain functions, such as information processing and memory.
In digital PR terms, this can mean that our creative brains are more prepared for brainstorming sessions, leading to fresh ideas that can easily secure links.
The increase in mood which comes from physical activity will also greatly affect employees. ‘Runners high’ is when our body releases endorphins from exercise which are known to dramatically improve mood. An increase in mood is a rise in morale that will impact one’s productivity - suddenly writing one press release a week can easily be made into writing two a week and the concept of multiple brainstorms doesn’t seem so daunting.
With more and more people opting to work from home, many are falling into a more sedentary lifestyle. With home comforts comes a lesser desire to get up and keep moving, despite its obvious benefits.
But becoming more active doesn’t mean you have to run miles every night or go to the gym multiple times a day - small but easy steps are the beginning of making big changes. Here are a few simple ways to get you started:
Every 30 minutes to an hour, set an alarm or a notification to make yourself get up and move for a few minutes. Walk up and down the stairs, go and get yourself a drink, or walk outside for a breath of fresh air. Not only is this a small step in being active, but it is also going to help you avoid burnout throughout the working day.
Meetings are a great opportunity to move around for a bit. If you don’t have to make notes or present slides, then consider walking around during meetings. You’ll still be able to listen and concentrate but you’re also stretching your legs.
If it isn’t possible to walk around, simply stand for the duration of your meeting to increase blood flow around your body.
On the days you want to exercise during your lunch or after work, wear workout clothes. Research shows that specific clothing can actually help us perform better and boost our mental health, which leads to the notion that wearing sports clothing will make a person feel more like an athlete, which will motivate them to exercise more.
This means you are more likely to get up and move during your lunch break than if you were in different clothes. After all, you’re already dressed for the occasion.
However, it is not just people who work from home who may be interested in getting more active. If you’re in an office job then you’re more than likely spending a large chunk of time sitting down and concentrating on computer screens, rather than getting the physical movement you need.
Like setting alarms at home, speak to your coworkers about getting some fresh air each hour. Not only will this avoid burnout, but the human interaction and a brief time outside can dramatically both improve mood and physical health.
Again, speaking with coworkers about going on a walk at lunchtime is going to be more effective than going by yourself. This is because your coworker can now hold you accountable and vice versa, meaning you are more likely to go.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go on long treks every lunchtime. Even just spending some time outside whenever possible will make a big difference.
Simply parking further away or choosing to cycle/walk into work is the best way of making your commute longer. If you catch a train, try out getting off at the stop before and walk the rest of the way. Simple changes like this in the morning are also a great way of setting you up for a more productive day at work.
The key is to start small when looking to begin implementing a healthy lifestyle at work. Here are some ways we, at Reboot, are keeping active whilst working at home:
Hannah Johnston, Junior Digital PR Executive: “I try to remind myself to stand up and walk downstairs every hour, even if it’s just to stretch my legs, and I always go for a long walk on Saturdays."
Sofia Tyson, Senior Content Marketing Executive: “I love to skip on my lunch breaks as it doesn’t really require a lot of equipment and it’s something I can easily do in my garden!”
Amelie Gregory, Digital PR Executive: “To stay active whilst working from home, I have found sticking to a routine helps me the most. I take a 30 to 40-minute walk on my lunch breaks, I’ve set scheduled break times to help me work to my best possible potential and I like to read for 30 minutes a day to keep my mind active.”
Kerry-Anne Wright, Content Writer: “I always make sure I walk my dog every morning and lunchtime - as much for my benefit as hers!”
You just need to make small changes at first, such as moving for one or two minutes every half an hour and then gently progress this into doing more each week. You will notice the benefits to not only your physical health and productivity but also the impact it has on your mental health pretty quickly, which will definitely help if you work in the creative industry.