One of the direct side-effects of modern work culture is the rampant stress and high-pressure atmosphere that invariably is created in the workspace. The global VFX industry is especially prone to this, owing to the high quantity of work, demanding standards of excellence, and the sheer skill, fast pace, creativity and manpower required.
Chronic stress can have a lasting impact on our health. Exposure to highly stressful situations and environments over a long period of time is more than likely to lead to hypertension and other stress-related disorders. The good news is, stress can be managed.
We have discovered that our BOTs are particularly good at keeping their cool. When we asked them to share about how they manage stress on the job, here’s what we found.
The Usual Suspect
Across the board, the most common stress-inducing factor was also the most obvious one: tight deadlines. Whether it’s working a complicated shot in a limited timeline, urgent delivery dates, or the delivery of the shot on the final day – the ticking of the clock feels heavier than usual for BOTs as deadlines approach.
For one paint and prep artist, the best way to navigate this is clear communication: “Communicating your concerns to your friends or leaders can help identify solutions. I make it a point not to overthink the situation, as that will only create more stress.” For one of our junior roto artists, a quick conference call with best friends is immensely therapeutic, while other BOTs find brief respite in dancing, music, yoga, or conscious breathing. Another junior prep artist tells us, “I watch YouTube videos related to my industry! It is a great stress buster!”
The New Normal
With the burgeoning impact of the pandemic and the new demands of working from home, many BOTs have been finding unexpected challenges in adapting to the new normal. From technical difficulties to health concerns to uncertainty about one’s own career, the current environment has contributed to ample cause for concern. In some cases, working with new resources remotely has been challenging as there’s hardly any room for bonding with fellow BOTs.
“Every time I start to feel lost or overwhelmed due to the current environment, I will have open-hearted conversations with my parents and friends for some much-needed perspective and stress relief,” shared one junior prep artist. One Head of Department tells us, “I consciously keep my focus on the immediate task at hand. Regular yoga practise has helped me keep my body and mind well-balanced.”
For some freshers, it’s just about finding their footing and feeling overwhelmed in the early stages of their career. The journey into VFX is vast and expansive, and can take its toll. On top of that, the pandemic has left some with serious questions about the future. Others face hiccups with making themselves comfortable in a workplace without being able to come into the office.
One of our Associate Production Managers shares, “The best way to navigate this is by discussing your problems with others, whether it’s your peers or someone with more experience. If you’re thinking of the worst case scenario, then also think of a strategy to overcome that. Most importantly, relax for at least 10 minutes in a way that’s convenient to you!” A Junior Prep Artist adds, “The key is to just believe in yourself, no matter what. Expand your knowledge and skill set, maintain a positive outlook and every now and then, close your eyes for 5 to 10 minutes. Don’t think of anything, just let your thoughts pass you by. It’ll calm you down.”
Across the board, there are some strategies that are common among all of the BOTs, and although simple, they have time and again proven to be useful:
- Write things down. Make a to-do list. Assign priorities to the tasks. Focus on one task at a time only.
- Take a break. Take short breaks between tasks. Go on a short walk, practice breathing exercises, watch a relaxing or motivating video, listen to a storytelling audiobook.
- A dose of happiness. Do something that makes you happy. Even if it’s just having your favorite chocolate or coffee, it’ll work wonders to lift your spirits!
- When in doubt, talk it out. Hop on a quick conference call with your best friends. Share your stress and concerns with your colleagues. Seek your supervisor’s help for better task management.
- Seek solutions. It’s okay to admit you don’t have all the answers. Tell your exact shot status to your lead and ask them whether there is a new way to approach the shot and complete it faster, or ask for added help.
- Delegate. You don’t have to do everything. And if you do everything all the time, you will feel burned out. Instead, reach out to your team about how to divide up your tasks.
- Step back. Step out of your own head. Step away from your system. The moment you feel you’re drowning in stress, stop, take a breath, and take a step back.
- Find some virtual fun and enrichment. There are many ways to connect with other BOTs online. Keep on the lookout for fun things like games and competitions, and enriching resources like Power Talks, Life Skills sessions, and VFX skill building lessons.
- Laugh a little! Share a joke, find a meme, whatever makes you LOL. A pun a day keeps the stress away 🙂
- Take a day off. If workday stress has piled high and it’s hard to find relief, ask for a day or two off to only do what makes you happy and relaxed. Then you’ll be refreshed and ready to get back to work.
Stress may be unavoidable, but it doesn’t have to be unmitigated. These stress-busting strategies can bring proven relief, rescuing you from a mountain of stress. And if all else fails, reach out to HR; their assignment is to support you with solving problems. You are not alone!
The point of this post isn’t to scare you, but to spark a conversation and some mindfulness. Stay calm, stay well, stay safe!