Boy, 2019 was some year, huh? Whilst I may be left perplexed and dismayed by the outcome of Brexit, the final post-election weeks of 2019 actually saw me switching off from the political news. Listening in to the arguments, news and – let’s face it – lies coming out of Westminster had become an unhealthy daily routine for me.
by Darren Caveney
When you find yourself watching live voting in Parliament you know that something has gone awry.
So, whilst I can’t change the outcome, I can change my own behaviours and make the move to less politics in my life.
I am giving myself a break from it, and I have to say it’s been pleasant and positive.
Instead, I’m filling my ears with music and podcasts and that can be inspiring, and provide a real boost to my creativity.
Here are my three more ‘gives’ to contribute towards a happy, healthy 2020.
1. Give to: Others
I set up comms2point0 almost nine years ago to try to help to fly a flag for communicators and communications and, in my own little way, give back to our industry.
As my own career has evolved I am now able to give more personally, be it not-for-profit events like Comms Unplugged or the UnAwards and UnAwards Winners Masterclass, or connecting people I think can help each other, signposting comms pros to help elsewhere, mentoring, a supportive chat over a coffee, or sharing some thoughts with someone thinking of going freelance.
comms2point0 wouldn’t be the beautiful thing it is without so many others giving it love and support over the years. So, now it is payback time and if I can give someone a little bit of help in 2020 I will. Hit me up, as the kids say.
On the theme of giving to others I’ve signed up to do the Munro Challenge in June to raise money for Water Aid. This is a triple whammy of giving: I get to raise some money for an important charity, I give myself the chance to see some wonderful scenery, and thirdly I get a stack of exercise and health benefits. That’s my kind of giving.
2. Give to: Health and wellbeing
I know I can be better in this area. For example, supporting my kids through the pressures of growing up, navigating school exam factories or the inevitable spats with friends.
And, in my professional life, it’s to prepare me to be better able to spot warning signs and offer more knowledgeable and credible advice to friends, colleagues, customers and mentorees in terms of mental health.
To help me, I have paid to do a two-day NHS accredited mental health first aiders training course at the end of January. I have lots to learn so I am looking forward to it and the skills I’ll hopefully gain will benefit me, my family, and hopefully some of the people I work closely with.
It was great to see health and wellbeing appearing on the agendas of more industry events in 2019 but we still have a long, long way to go to genuinely improve the situation. We can all play a part in helping our industry improve upon the sobering statistics we keep on seeing when it comes to stress and mental ill health.
3. Give to yourself: Take a break
It’s vital that we all take breaks from screens, social media, fake news and the media.
It can be as simple as the lunchtime walk or, my favourite, a solo coffee break for half an hour at least once a week in your favourite independent purveyor of fine caffeine. Some ‘you’ time. Block it out in your diary every week for 2020. Call it something important if others can access your work diary and protect if fiercely. It isn’t selfish, it’s giving yourself some space to think, plan or just simply relax a little.
Take a break from social media too. I aim for social media-free Sundays and try to come off at 9pm at night – that blue light too late at night will hamper our sleep, we know. It does to me.
If we don’t look after ourselves we can’t look after our families, friends and colleagues. It’s that simple.
Life can throw any of us a curve ball
So, it’s so important for us to be self-aware and to give to ourselves.
As a bloke of a certain age some of this stuff doesn’t necessarily come naturally and so I have to work on it and listen to others who are better qualified in health and wellbeing.
And, that’s an extra ‘give’ – we shouldn’t be slow to ask for others to give us help. It is a flaw I have, I know. But we work in a very giving and supportive industry in public sector comms so don’t ever be alone with stuff. If I can help, shout me. If you think you can help me, also shout me. And if you are worried about a friend or colleague and their wellbeing in 2020 make sure you check in on them and ask if you can give them a hand or simply a listening ear.
Because it really is better to give than receive.
Darren Caveney is creator of comms2point0 and owner of specialist consultancy creative communicators ltd
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