In this series which appears in In Focus Magazine from The Guild of Television Camera Professionals, Jo Hodges and Liz Bell, co-founders of Fusion Film and TV answer questions from readers and fellow camera operators on industry issues and give advice where needed.

In addition to camera operating and running their production company, Jo and Liz are both qualified transformative life coaches who work specifically with those in the media. You can read more about their work here.

Q:I’ve really been struggling with motivation during the pandemic and a general feeling of being lost. What can I do to change this feeling as it’s really starting to get to me and affect my work?

First, know that you are not alone.  The pandemic has had a huge effect on our collective mental wellbeing this past year. We have effectively experienced trauma together. And this is what I would like you to take a moment to remember. My second piece of advice would be to stop and see how it feels to not add another emotion to your already suffering headspace, guilt!  It’s ok to not be motivated 100% of the time, you are after all a human and not a robot. That being said there are lots of things you can do to reconnect and gain direction that will help you get through this difficult period and once more regain your feeling of purpose.

I always tell clients that if they are feeling lost to step back for a bit and stop looking. We generally feel this way when things feel out of our control or are going in a direction we aren’t comfortable with.  Stop with your expectations and go with the flow for a few days. Take some time off from worrying about it all and give yourself a set period of time to focus on the little things that give you pleasure instead.

Enjoy doing things that make you happy or relaxed with permission from yourself to have a mental holiday. The aim is to change your current state of worry which is unhelpful, into a more balanced state. 

Be in the moment of whatever task it is that you are doing.  Really give it thought and let it bring you joy.  Whether that’s listening to music, watching a film, reading a book or talking to friends. Enjoy anything that brings you out of your current anxious state. 

Once you have done that for a week come back to your motivation thoughts and see how you feel. I suspect with some quiet mind time and less berating of yourself you will be in a much better place to look at where you are.  

For more techniques to help with motivation have a look at our website for podcasts and blogs and consider a free introductory session with either me or Jo.

Q: “I am a single person who has during both lockdowns been furloughed from work. I have really struggled not seeing people and am suffering from great loneliness and fear of socialising. Now with things looking like we are heading towards some level of normality, it’s making me feel really worried about going out again and seeing people. How can I cope with the anxiety this causes?”

I totally understand and I think all of us will struggle to a certain degree mixing again in public – particularly with masks on which are such a barrier to real social contact. 

I would say that it’s also perfectly natural to become more introverted when you are forced to stay inside for 90% of the day during the winter months. With this in mind, I would suggest taking it slowly and reframing your perception to help stop it from becoming a growing thing in your head. 

Firstly remember you are not alone, literally! There will be many people who are feeling just like you and maybe some of your own friends and family.   Be honest with them – perhaps arrange a chat one-to-one rather than in groups to begin with, so that you don’t feel caught up in the ‘I’m OK Jack’ mentality of a group chat. Once you have spoken to a few of your friends separately then re-attempt a group chat because you will have already talked through your concerns and can just enjoy the company.

Because some of us currently have so much time on our own we have been spending a lot of time in our own heads.  After all, there’s nowhere else to go!  As a result though it’s very easy to overthink everything.  Doing some basic meditation or mindfulness exercises will really help reassure and quiet your mind. There are some great apps out there and the results can be really helpful when your mind is anxious and stressed. Mostly though I’d reiterate that you need to stay in the present because it’s the only thing that’s real!  Yesterday and tomorrow exist only in your head and it really helps to remind yourself of that fact. 
– Jo

“Q: I am relatively new to being freelance and the pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time as I was just starting to make good contacts and gain clients. Now I feel like I’m back at square one. Do you have any tips for networking as I’m not the best at it and feel really uncomfortable bothering people?”

Gosh yes, you have picked an interesting time to begin your new business but you are doing the right thing by acknowledging areas you aren’t as strong in. 

When we go freelance we are beginning our own business and it’s best to treat it like you would any other business ie: with a plan. As camera operators we are very technical and often selling ourselves is not a natural skill we have but planning and highlighting areas you may need help with is just good business sense. So my suggestions are write a networking and marketing plan including areas to target, people you know already and potentials you can approach. Its always good to target areas you want to work in but keep your options open, particularly at the beginning. Start with the contacts you know first and keep notes of what you have sent so you don’t bombard anyone and date it so your follow up can be well timed.

With regard to nerves about contacting people again the plan will help as you will feel more confident being well organised and structured with your emails or calls.

There are techniques that will help for calming nerves some of which we feature on our website and podcasts but first and most importantly breath and centre yourself before you begin. 
– Liz