COVID-19 means life has changed drastically for a lot of us. We’re lucky we work in an industry where we are able to operate as a business on a remote basis, but it hasn’t been without its challenges. We believe in supporting our staff and their families, but that doesn’t just mean from a professional standpoint. Mental health and wellbeing is crucial now more than ever.

To mark #StressAwarenessMonth we have put together some top tips for wellbeing and mental health from our weekly studios stream discussions championed by our Head of HR, Jill Wallace, as well as speaking to a number of our heads of department, leads and senior staff about how they’re managing during this time.

Get Your Gladrags On

You don’t need to put on your Sunday best but getting dressed for the day as you normally would helps to maintain good habits, and separate your ‘work mode’ from ‘home mode’. 

Jill Wallace, Head of HR, says:

“Avoid the pyjama temptation! Even if you are changing into some comfortable loungewear, getting dressed and preparing mentally for the working day ahead has proven to increase productivity. ”

Create A Home Office Space

Not all of us will have the space to create a separate home office, but if you do, then that’s great. If not, it’s a good idea to separate your ‘home space’ from your ‘working space’, to avoid it feeling like you’re constantly in one or the other. Even if that’s just creating a corner in your living room or bedroom that can psychologically act as your office environment. 

James Hodgart, Lead Environment Artist says: 

“Taking time to get outside and not working longer than you need to help. Also trying to set up an "office space" away from your living space so you can separate the two is a good idea - if you have that luxury.”

Schedule Your Day, Your Week, Your Month, Or Even Your Year 

Establishing a routine while working from home will not only help your productivity, but create clear boundaries between your responsibilities at home and at work. 

Maria Koumis, ER Manager, says:

“It's important you keep to your usual business operating hours where possible or arrange an alternative suitable working pattern that is more accommodating to current times. You might want to think about taking more frequent breaks or a longer lunch break to attend to your children, including helping them with their homework or making their meals.  Having clear times when you can focus on work, family or friends and communicating that will help feel like neither are being neglected.” 

Take A Step Back

It can be tempting to throw ourselves into work as a way of coping or as a means of escapism, especially when we’re working from home, but it’s a good idea to give ourselves some space sometimes, to recharge and rest. Taking short breaks throughout the day will help us refocus and avoid feeling overwhelmed. 

Luke Smith, Senior Animator, says:

“It’s definitely a challenging time for mental health, and it’s easy to get cabin fever. I find it’s useful to take a step back sometimes - don’t be afraid to take five minutes to go and chill out, space is crucial for health and productivity. Try to focus on the positives of the situation and stick to a routine.” 

Get Moving

Exercise has time and again been proven to benefit both our mental and physical health, so taking breaks to stretch or move your body will help alleviate any stress or anxiety.

Maria Koumis, ER Manager, says:

“To keep your body and mind healthy during lockdown, you need to stay active. Fortunately, there are many ways to do that - whether you're a seasoned athlete or just a beginner there are a multitude of different ways to stay active. Here are some of my favourites:

  • A morning walk or run - gets you up and out first thing in the morning at takes place of your daily commute

  • P.E. with Joe - which is great to do with the whole family

  • Arrange to do a digital exercise class with friends

  • Set a timer or calendar reminder to walk for a couple of minutes every hour even if it's just around the house.”

Try Something New

Break up your routine and find fun and healthy ways to spend your time and try something new, like a recipe, or finish a project. That said, don’t put yourself under loads of pressure to be ‘productive’, make sure it’s something that’s stimulating but relaxing. 

Harry Houghton, Lead Rigging TD says:

“Try something new, experiment and do that thing you’ve always wanted to do - whether that’s baking or something as simple as reading that book someone gave you at christmas two years ago!”

Maintain A Sense Of ‘Community’

It’s good to get outside human interaction when we’re in meetings, but organising time to have informal chats with your team will keep spirits high and make people feel more connected. 

Jon Beeston, Head of Art says:

“Make sure you maintain as much communication as possible with your team, encourage them to arrange catch ups amongst themselves (through google hangouts for example) and for everyone to be supportive and patient. Luckily the internet is still functioning and in this connected age, whilst we may not physically be able to be in the same real world space as each other, we can still meet in plenty of virtual spaces.

Also, try to maintain a sense of humour, a couple of us in the studio have been 'dressing up' on occasion for calls.”

Get Creative

Paint, draw, dance, sing, whatever makes you feel good. Creative outlets are massively beneficial for mental health, and can help you let go and process your day. 

David Townsend, Head of Business Development says:

“If you're doing lockdown completely solitary utilise the time alone really well; reconnect with family and friends, learn an instrument, finish writing the book - all that good stuff. And make sure you play music loud and practice those wild dance moves around the house. By the time we're all allowed out again - we'll be rockstars"