'Promoting Wellbeing During Unprecedented Times' by Dr Jane Oakland
When life is disrupted by events which are out of our control, we have two choices. We can become a victim to these changes or we can find ways to adapt to our current environment. The way we perceive change has a direct influence on the way we respond to change. Adopting a proactive rather than a passive approach is key to promoting physical and mental wellbeing. Below are three psychological qualities to develop that can help you manage your wellbeing during these difficult times.
It is well documented that structure is essential to managing times of confinement. Although voiceover artists are accustomed to working alone, social distancing means that you either miss the social contact to balance your solitary working life or, you suddenly find yourself surrounded by family members with little space for yourself. Creating a daily structure, however loose, that works for your individual situation is essential if you are to fit rather that fight with your changed circumstances .Personally, I have found that if I wake up with a low mood, I rely particularly on my morning routine (which is mainly exercise based) for a reason to get out of bed. It helps me feel energised and more able to cope with the day. A daily structure should also factor in ‘me time’. Perhaps set aside a ‘quiet’ area where you or your family members can retreat to if necessary or, if you live on your own, allocate a time to contact other people in your community who may also be on their own. A friendly voice at the end of a telephone can be hugely therapeutic for all concerned.
Directing self- focus towards human strengths and what works well is thought to be highly influential in fulfilling potential and personal achievements. Concentrating on positive emotions encourages psychological flexibility and broadens an individual’s perspective on life, thus leading to increased personal resources to adapt to change and adversity. That said, emotional highs and lows are part of being an artist. I find myself frequently reiterating a well-used phrase ‘It’s OK not to be OK’. Accept a down day and work with it. The structure you create for your days can lead you back to a routine and make the down times manageable.
Keep a diary or notebook and each day write down one positive thing that has happened, no matter how insignificant. Challenge those around you to do the same and compare notes.
Vocal adaptability is a key skill in the voiceover industry but how adaptable are you in other areas of your life? Crisis is an opportunity for innovative thinking. How can you adapt your skill set to help yourself and others in your community?
In a study of wellbeing for musicians, one of the conclusions arrived at by Sara Ascenso and her colleagues (2017) was that musicians who reported the highest levels of wellbeing were those who were ‘broader achievers’, rather than’ higher achievers’, both within and outside the musical domain. Perhaps this is the ideal opportunity to take a broader view of your skill set to encourage greater flexibility both as an artist and a person in order to prepare for a future which will undoubtedly bring changes to the way the performing arts industry operates.
Coping with adversity is a highly personal matter but it can help if adversity is seen as a problem to be solved rather than a dark cloud above your shoulders. Problem solving requires creative thinking which in turn helps you to feel more in control of your personal and professional life. For further tips on remaining positive see my article ‘Positivity out of Adversity’ currently on the Spotlight Website
Ascenso, S., Williamon, A., & Perkins, R. (2017). Understanding the wellbeing of professional musicians through the lens of positive psychology. Psychology of Music, 45(1), 65-81.