When the Party Stops: Wellness Hacks for Events Pros
Event Wellness Week takes place in London this September, aiming to foster better mental health in our often stressful line of work. From dealing with deadlines and unusual hours, to expectation management and ‘acts of God’, production can certainly be a thrilling but high pressure profession.
Eddy Temple-Morris, Virgin Radio DJ and chairman of the music board at CALM, the Campaign Against Living Miserably, tells Made Up that the long hours associated with the event sector are of particular worry. “Staying up all night is terrible for you,” Eddy says, “your cognitive reasoning goes out the window. The only time I’ve been suicidal is when I’ve had no sleep.”
Eddy made considerable lifestyle adjustments after the suicide of his friend Charlie Hadden of band Ou Est Le Swimming Pool? in 2010.
“Suicide’s like a bomb going off; lots of people get injured by it, and we all find it very hard to talk about,” he says. The incident prompted Eddy to institute his own self-care regime: “I meditate twice a day for 20 minutes, I’ve cut booze out during the week and heavy partying down to once a year,” he says.
His favourite aspect though is “the Wim Hof method,” he explains, “this is a program of techniques recommended by the ‘extreme athlete’ of the same name, and involves taking a cold shower for a minute every morning. “It releases a huge amount of [happiness hormone] dopamine and bolsters the immune system,” says Eddy, “you actually come out of the shower smiling.”
CALM specialises in male suicide prevention because men are, unfortunately, up to six times as likely to take their own lives. But its helplines and advisory programs are open to women too. The details are at the bottom of this article.
If you’re struggling at work, Eddy recommends you talk to a pal if you’re nervous about engaging a professional. He also urges you to try “approaching your boss with honesty. A good boss will listen and take any feedback on board, especially if it’s to do with mental health.”
Eddy also suggests appointing a ‘mental health first aid officer’ at the workplace. “These became popular in restaurant kitchens after Anthony Bourdain’s suicide,” says Eddy, “it’s a member of staff trained to spot issues, who colleagues can turn to in confidence.”
With our founder Cy Kelly’s encouragement, we asked some of Made Up’s our frontline staff members how they keep their own wellbeing in check while at work in the often demanding events sector.
Ben Bailey-Cook, Producer
“No energy drinks, lots of water, no tea of coffee. I have an insulated bottle that keeps my water cold all day long – I use a brand called Camelback Chute. Caffeine might keep you awake for a little bit but then you get a major drop in energy!”
Kady Gummerson, Producer
“Morning routine is everything - starting your day right! I get up at 5am every day because sleep is everything. I do my morning ritual on pen and paper - not phone - and then I go to the gym. Sometimes I will do a five minute meditation. In the evening my friend and I both text each other our ‘win for the day’ and I meditate for ten minutes.”
Sophie Rowe, Account Manager
“When you’re not in work, commit to that and really switch off! I have a separate work phone that stays at the bottom of my bag. In my old firm we used to say ‘PR not ER!’”
Adam Douglas, Head of Operations
I plan my day so there’s planned periods without meetings. Take notes, take stock, have that five minutes chatting with a colleague. A constant sense of urgency can make you feel like you’re getting enough done, but it’s not good for your wellbeing. I eat Kiwi fruits which are very high in vitamin C! Learning something new can be as good as a rest, so set aside a bit of time every week to try something new out or read up on the latest thing. Always make time in the schedule for staff to enjoy the fruits of their labours - like attending the events - even the back office staff who don’t normally get a chance.”
James Braybrooke, Tech Lead
“If you can, ensure the event is staffed adequately enough for the team to be able to take short breaks over long shifts. The more you plan in advance, the less stressed and fatigued you’re going to be on the day. On overnight rigs I spend money on energy-boosting snacks so the crew never want for water or fruit – and maybe the odd bit of chocolate doesn’t hurt. And break in a new pair of boots before a rig – wellbeing for the feet is a thing in this industry!”
Ben Lofthouse, Production Manager
“I spend a lot of time at festivals for example. I used to eat like shit – burgers, chips and so on. Meal vouchers and crew catering features a lot of carb heavy food. Being on site can be demanding and time-challenging and they’re aren’t any shops, not even convenience stores. I’ll take food with me, go to the supermarket and stock up on protein bars and two litre bottles of water, or make an effort to get off site. And I try not to beat myself up if you get access to the left over dressing room riders!”
Leila Davis, Account Manager
“Cycling to and from work gets you some headspace and gets you moving, it’s much better than getting on a bus or a tube! There are Cycle to Work schemes that the company can take advantage of. Many of our staff members have taken up ours; there are plenty of routes you can take that aren’t on busy roads.”
Tristan Bailey, Project Manager
It’s useful to be feeling positive when approaching any project but not always easy to maintain the consistent mindset where positivity thrives. Everybody’s different but for me I create healthy habits (and try and stick to them!). These habits mainly revolve around exercise, which is a huge catalyst for a positive attitude. It simply makes you feel good, helps you vent any frustration, and tees you up for a positive day.
Aly Watling and Tom Spencely, Design Studio
“We spend a lot of time concentrating hard in front of screens, often on very precise tasks such as renderings. So we make sure we get up and walk around for five minutes every hour.”
Contact CALM via thecalmzone.net. Its helpline on 0808 585858 (or 0808 802 5858 in London) is available 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year.