This week’s blog is coming from a different angle. We asked our MD Nicholas Polley to pick a subject to write about that doesn’t relate to any projects we have work on. Something personal, something that hopefully others can relate to or can take from. Ok so the title is a little ambiguous but hopefully it will make perfect sense. So without further ado we give you this week’s blog……..
With the economy still on tender hooks, and in particular the AEC sector, we can be forgiven for feeling a little stressed when it comes to work, or more importantly when it comes to getting work in the door. With diminished client budgets, trying to sell design, whether that be, architecture, engineering, landscaping, interior design and even 3D, is a tough task. Putting yourself and your business out there can be more than challenging, it can sometimes be sole destroying. We keep going because that’s what we have to do to win business, to turn profits, to make a living, to break even, to put food on the table, to pay the bills. It doesn’t matter which of these categories you are in, they all contain some form of stress.
Is it OK to feel stressed?
In my opinion of course it is. Life contains stress at every turn but its how you manage and deal with it that is important. I defy anyone in our fragile design industries to say that they have no stress, particularly when it comes to work related matters. In fact the opposite is probably closer to the truth. Some people deal with stress better than others but have you ever asked yourself why?
From my limited knowledge on the matter, and the following is my own opinion, formed from knowledge I have picked up, mainly from my wife Elsa believe it or not, is that whilst some people are naturally better wired to deal with stress, a lot of what we do, and even what we put in our mouths can have a huge impact on how we can cope. And coping with stress is key to better design.
When Do You Do Your Best Design, Solve Problems or Come Up With New Ideas?
For very few the answer to this is probably when the pressure is on. And that’s fine, but for the vast majority of design professionals it is most likely when they have time to think about their design and digest it. For me, solving problems or coming up with new ideas for the business happen when my conscious mind is switched off from work. Sometimes this is when I have just started driving or when I am feeding our 4month old, but more often than not it is when I am doing or have just completed some form of exercise.
In my opinion, physical exercise is also mental exercise. It is an important element in busting stress levels, solving problems and coming up with new ideas. The W.H.O recommends that everyone should exercise at least 30mins every single day to combat mental health issues, of which stress is one of the leading members or contributors. Exercise should be on everyone’s daily ‘To Do’ list. It releases powerful chemicals in the brain and makes you feel physically better which has a direct impact on your mental state. My wife always comments that I don’t get stressed but that is simply not true. I deal with stress through exercise and thanks to her (she is a nutritionist) through good food also. Getting to the gym, walking the dog (see the reference now!) is an important part of my week.
Some might say that they don’t have time to go to the gym or exercise because they are too busy. That’s understandable in these times, but how much of that busy time is dead time, taken up by stressing, trying to solve problems or busting out a new design that could be done better in less time if your mind was not so clouded with stressful thoughts? Exercise helps to switch the conscious mind off which in turn helps switch off the stress and allow your creative mind to come to life.
Why Good Food?
Coupled with exercise good food is also important to managing stress. It’s a vicious cycle in that if you eat badly you don’t have the energy to exercise and if you don’t exercise you don’t manage stress or let your creative mind live…IMO anyway. Ok so I am one of the lucky ones here in that I have a wife who cooks and cooks well. But eating the right foods can boost your mood. Couple that with even light exercise every day, you can help dramatically improve stress levels. Take a look at some ‘Good Mood Food Tips’ from Elsa’s latest blog post. http://www.elsajonesnutrition.ie/index.php/good-mood-food/
IMO the bottom line is that exercise is vital to mental health. Whether it is a 30min lunchtime or evening walk or a strenuous gym session a couple of times a week it doesn’t matter. The message is – move your body to exercise your mind to produce great design. – NP