We’re incredibly proud to have been nominated for a Games Industry Biz Health and Wellbeing Award.
Over the past few years, our studio has been through a journey as we rebalance our focus across product, andour people. As a team, we’ve had a lot more open conversations on what health and mental wellbeing means to us, and along the way we’ve discovered more about each other.
Today, we wanted to share this advice with you. We’ve spoken to people from across the studio and gathered our pearls of wisdom in one place.
Elle Dudley, UI/UX Artist:
“Talk to someone. If you know what you are dealing with it’s easier to start making things better for you. Don’t beat yourself up if you are making great progress and then a bad day sends you back to square one – mental health doesn’t have a linear path to progress, but understanding yourself is the best place to start.”
Gareth Mills, Producer:
“Be brave, and seek the help you need and don’t put it off. Don’t do it tomorrow. Do it now.
Definitely, always, always, always take your lunch break. Work will always be there, but you need to take time for yourself during the day. Also, make sure you finish on time. If you planned to leave at a certain time, stick to it.”
Annie Clare, Operations Coordinator:
“For the last 10 years I’ve lived with panic attacks, and learnt a few coping mechanisms along the way. I like being around people, and when I feel an attack coming on I’ll have whoever is with me start talking to me about the weather, what we watched on TV – anything to distract me whilst I’m pacing with deep breathes until I can calm down. If I’m by myself, I put on a comfort show (30 Rock is my go-to) and tune into that until I start to feel better.
If you think you suffer from anxiety, please know that you aren’t alone and there are so many of us out there! Things will improve the moment you accept in your own mind that something isn’t quite right. The minute I started being open with my story, I had a lot of friends confide to me that they had the same issue, or were taking medication but felt like they couldn’t talk about.
Mental health is not taboo, it isn’t trivialised any longer, it isn’t spoken about in hushed tones.”
Kinwai Lee, Principal Animator:
“Having a 30 minute meditation class at work has allowed me to step away from the computer to focus purely on breathing and clearing my mind. It feels great to return back to my work recharged with higher focus and fresh eyes. Not only is the meditation useful but the group itself is like a support group, where we have open minded chats on health and wellbeing.”
Mark Lintott, Technical Director:
“Mental health wellbeing is still a big issue for me. I come from a ‘man up’ background. Accepting that a mental illness is no different than having a broken leg or a cold is hard. Trust is a big part of conquering this. It’s easier for me now because I trust that people around me won’t judge me.
I focussed on work far too much for far too long. Instead of 50/50 it was more like 90/10 for 15+ years. It’s only recently that I realised that you need a good balance. My relationships with family and friends withered. I became bitter, selfish and angry. It’s taken a big shock to the system to see it all and take action. Now I make effort to spend time with people. I find time to connect with my friends and family. I try to get home earlier instead of 8pm. I watch TV with my kids, even if it’s teenage crap I would not normally watch myself. I’ve taken up cooking and kayaking. I go running more with my friends. I’m enjoying the time with people. I also started to make more time for myself.
One thing to remember is that, one day your time at work will be behind you. Relationships may have withered and opportunities would have passed by. Make time for these things they are just as valuable as success at work.
Looking after my body and exercising has helped a lot. I took up running and it has had several benefits to my well being. First I feel fitter, I have more energy, I feel good about myself. Second, it reduces stress. If I get angry or anxious I will normally be able to smash it out by going for a run. Finally and most importantly, it has become a great social aspect to my life. I’ve ran with many people at work and it’s formed some great cross discipline relationships. At home I have a circle of friends who all run. I love spending time with them just chatting about stuff while we run.”
Ashleigh Webb, HR Manager:
“Don’t be afraid to get professional help. When I needed this, I was deeply scared of what I thought it meant. Now when I look back I realise if my physical health had been as low as my mental health was I wouldn’t have hesitated in going to my GP or someone qualified to help. There’s no reason why we should view mental health any differently. Seek out help early on. The sooner you do this the sooner you start on your journey to improving and getting better.
Quit stuff that isn’t working for you. The job I was in at the time wasn’t going to help me get better so I quit. I was already in touch with my old boss, I told her everything that was happening and without hesitation she offered me my old job back. People will surprise you with just how much they are willing to help. Find your circle of people and keep talking to them.”
Ben Furneaux, Principal Designer:
“One of the best things you can do to improve your overall wellbeing is dedicate some time to physical fitness:
Set yourself a goal and stick to it. For me is was being able to lift my bodyweight. Tell people about your goals, get them interested to give yourself a bit of social accountability!
Track your routine with a wearable device. A tactile record that you did something is an effective reward and another way of holding yourself accountable.
Try to be consistent. Build a realistic routine you can stick to long-term. Don’t rush into a routine you won’t be able to sustain. Focus first on exercising consistently and if you want to add more sessions to your weekly routine do it slowly.
Once you’ve achieved a good flow push yourself to continuously improve. Do more each week, whether it’s running further in the same time or lifting more weight. Always aim to be safely outside of your comfort zone and you’ll continue to see results.
If exercising or working out in a gym is new and intimidating booking a few sessions with a personal trainer is an excellent investment. They’ll help you build a routine and give you confidence to use all areas of the gym. YouTube is also an excellent resource. There are so many great channels dedicated to fitness, especially weight lifting, that show correct form and posture to help you lift safely and efficiently.”
Nick Trout, Principal Programmer:
“Make sure you are sleeping properly. This is a major cause of mental health issues. Insomnia, disrupted sleep, or staying up too late all lead to anxiety. Prepare for bed, turn the lights down, relax, air the room you’ll sleep in. Your core temperature needs to drop to go into REM. Hot rooms energise you and you won’t sleep well. Don’t drink too much alcohol before you go to bed as it wakes your brain up, it is a stimulant. Don’t drink coffee after 3pm. Don’t have a TV in the bedroom. Leave your phone in another room. Take sleep seriously.
If you feel lacking in energy, exercise
is powerful stabiliser and energiser. Join a class, this is good way to get a
routine, and you can also make like-minded friends. Take up a martial art. I’ve
done Karate and Muay Thai. At the end of session you’re drenched in sweat and
you feel on top of the world. Plus, learning self-defence if not a bad thing,
and you’ll sleep much better.
Yoga is also excellent. I’ve done
classes. We get so knotted up and don’t even realise it. Stretching has a
powerful relaxing effect. You feel less tense mentally and physically.
Meditation is a good way to bring focus back under your control. If you are feeling high anxiety, I’d encourage you to learn more about it as it helps from keeping your mind wandering.”
Simon Cheung, UI/UX Artist:
“Create a checklist of all your to-dos on your phone and you should feel good for completing those tasks along the way.
Never feel guilty for taking time out to carry out your hobbies/playtime.
Always have a pair of wellington boots so there’s no excuse to not take a walk, even when it rains.”
Paul Saunders, Senior Technical Designer:
“I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t and doesn’t suffer from mental health issues, if anyone says they don’t, then you know one of their issues is lying. Don’t feel embarrassed about talking to people, your friends will be really receptive to listening and will be supportive. If they aren’t, then they are not friends.”