By Freddie Clough, Senior Account Manager at SWC Partnership
Relocate to the countryside I said to myself, that’ll be fun. Maybe change careers as well and start freelancing while you’re at it. Quite bold decisions to make all in one go, partly out of necessity and while it was definitely the right thing to do, it wasn’t without consequence.
Six months into my new rural, freelancing career, I was getting anxiety attacks about once a week, or, were they panic attacks? I’m not entirely sure what the difference is. Whatever they were they weren’t fun. For me they were like a sudden rush of blood to the head, but in reverse, leaving you weak, shaken and vulnerable. Needless to say, I was a bit cheesed off, not to mention worried, that these episodes were happening so regularly, and I was at their mercy.
So, off to the GP I went who put me on to the local NHS talking therapy service. When I explained these episodes to them they first suggested I cut down on my caffeine intake, which I did, and bam! That, plus a six-week course of therapy and I haven’t had an anxiety attack since. The only side effect is that I’m now that annoying one who when offered a cuppa will respond, ‘ooh, do you have any decaf’?
That’s not to say I haven’t been anxious since, I’m just better equipped at dealing with it thanks to the support and guidance I received through therapy. There was however a danger of it going unchecked as a freelancer working from home and on my tod. It took me a while to check in on myself and own up to myself that I might benefit from some medical support, rather than powering through the working day with endless mugs of tea which, as it turned out, was making matters worse!
Fast forward from those freelancing days at home, to my agency days at SWC, and we know what it can be like – fluctuating workloads, looming deadlines, multiple projects, in the office one day and offsite the next. At times it can be, to put it lightly, pretty bat sh*t. Something as a team we all signed up for and for the most part, however all of it is thoroughly enjoyable and keeps me interested everyday. However, agency life like any other workplace can have the potential to cause anxiety, whether you’re a tea drinker or not.
While we’re not medical health professionals, wellbeing is nonetheless paramount at SWC and we’re very good at checking in with each other. Whether that’s a proper sit down or a quick chat at a nearby cafe, there’s no shortage of opportunities to have a meaningful catch up with a work chum if and when needed.
Another great help is how SWC really advocates sticking to our actual working hours. That way we have time in the mornings, lunch breaks and evenings to give our busy heads a rest so there’s no chance of any anxiety creeping in, building up and having an adverse effect on our wellbeing. Combining that with an approachable, collaborative and close knit team allows us to spot any potential issues or changes in behaviour early on and prevent them from developing into something worse.
It makes for a very happy working environment where the door’s always open for a chat and a cuppa, but, just make mine a camomile 😉
To find out more about Mental Health Awareness week go to https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/public-engagement/mental-health-awareness-week