After lockdown, I really felt I had learnt that a better work-life balance was important and that working all the time was just going to end up making me unhappy. I wanted to take that lesson of being happy at home more and integrate it into my freelance work, life, balance but instead, I’ve gone back to working long hours and am twice as busy as before. I now seem to have this fear that I need to earn as much as possible while I can and it’s making me really anxious. I am exhausted and know if I keep this up I will burn out very soon. How can I stop this from happening?

I’ve been seeing this a lot lately and it’s a worrying post-pandemic trend which I’m really glad you brought up. Currently, I am seeing an overwhelming amount of anxiety in clients – which is to be expected after the collective trauma we have all been through. Some of us who have lost our work during lockdown are now having to cope with the remembered anxiety of not having enough money to live off, having savings eaten into and backup plans exhausted and that will have stayed with us ready to do its worst with our thoughts and worries going forward.  So how can we stop this from being our default state of mind?

Well, for fear of repeating myself from previous issues’ answers; your acknowledgement of the problem is already a massive step forward in helping combat it.  Recognising that your brain is subconsciously trying to protect you from danger by putting you into ‘fight or flight mode’ which can cause both anxiety and exhaustion (it can’t always tell when it releases chemicals into your body if you are running away from a tiger or being asked to work overtime!). One of my favourite tools in coaching is the ‘lens swap’ perspective change because anyone who works with cameras totally understands changing a lens and getting a different outlook. Perhaps you can think about how when one of the worst things happened you survived it and that you still have a business to run and how you got through probably your worst-case scenario and are still here and working. It sounds like you are caught up in a loop of your anxious thoughts so use different lenses to break the loop – just experiment at looking at it differently. Sometimes with clients, I will get them to write down different scenarios and think about how they can look different through a different lens.  Overall it’s hard to have perspective and make good decisions about work and life when you are caught in an anxious loop and not seeing clearly, so stop and breathe, be in the moment, clear your head and try your different lens. – Jo

I’ve worked in the film business for many years and I am feeling very nervous about all the streaming sites feeling like they are suddenly taking over movies and changing the landscape of cinema. I work in this business because I love cinema and going to the movies is a big part of that. I understand change needs to happen and that progress has been affected by the last few years but it’s making me sad and upset that the cinema experience is being eroded by On Demand TV and resentful of being part of the problem when working for these companies. How can I be in the right frame of mind to keep working in the industry when I feel constantly fed up about it?

Ok, well this is a really interesting question and one I’m sure that we can all relate to. We can all view this with regards to our own passions around working in film and TV and the ever-changing landscape. 

Most of us that work in this business are in it because we are passionate about it, we love the job and we love playing our part in the stories that are told.

But those stories have been told for many years and will continue to be told in ways we probably haven’t even thought of yet.

Again, we come back to perspective, as Jo said earlier. When TV arrived everyone thought cinema was over but it just re-established itself in a different way. When VHS (and Betamax!) and then DVDs came out, the same thing was said and yet cinema kept on adapting. I think the root of your question is not wanting responsibility for a part in killing something that you love off and that you feel protective of but perhaps it would be better to be a part of keeping it alive. Perhaps view it like being in it and having your love and passion will help keep the roots of cinema within the newer formats. Accepting, embracing that change opens up other possibilities for telling the stories. You are getting upset about things that haven’t happened yet – wouldn’t it be better to be here and now and participate with your care, love and knowledge. I have heard people say the same about Live TV being at risk too but when massive sporting and music events are still happening, that will never be – we will just have the ability perhaps to see more of it in a different way.

Nostalgia is good but don’t let it stop you from bringing all that knowledge and passion to new concepts.  You might be pleasantly surprised.  – Liz

I work in a specific field in TV (sports) and would like to branch out to different genres, music maybe, but it feels quite closed off. How can I break through that mentality that I only work in sports?

I think we all recognise this scenario!  Even if you quite happily work across different areas already there will be times when that will be made to feel wrong because you aren’t seen as specialising. But when people react like that it’s usually fear-based particularly of someone who wants to do things a different way to them. Bang to the beat of your own drum!

Personally, I have always worked across different genres and benefited very much because of it, from both a mental-health perspective and a financial one too as different areas are often busy at different times and it can be great for inspiration and variety. Whenever you get an industry that has a high percentage of freelancers it will be a bit more closed-off because people are scared of losing their work and when some people are scared they let their egos take over. Please don’t let that stop you though because there are many wonderful people who will help you. You just need to root them out! In fact, The Guild is an excellent place to start with its workshops and forums.  Their members are a collective of like-minded people all in it together so just ask questions and see what comes back. If your gut tells you to want to branch out into different areas then listen to it. Whether freelance or staff there will always be someone in every area and every industry who will help if you ask. And there will be plenty of others who won’t! Remember, it’s fear-based egos that are at the root of the problem, it’s not personal to you. Good luck   – Liz

If you too would like your questions answered by Jo and Liz then email info@equacoaching.com