How to support ourselves in long work days (and nights!)
For those who are familiar with our line of work in production, we do not have regular working hours. Each production depending on the company may have different working rhythms. In effect, if we are a part of a production team, we would have to work in many different rhythms. Although usually there is a tendency to start later in the day and finish later at night, but not always.
I've often asked people why they join this industry, the most common answer is that they like the flexibility of hours during work. If our work tends to be irregular in rhythm, I find that it is super supportive for me to still develop a consistent rhythm in my life (as work and life are one thing, don't you agree?), so that when my work schedule becomes erratic, my body is still being taken of.
Often we have a misconception that work is far greater and much more important than our body. However, this is far from truth, as if we do not nurture our body, which is the vehicle of expression to actually tend to ALL our work and life, then what quality can we expect from work and life?
Most of the people I work with are young, and when we are youthful we tend to be more capable of disregarding the body without the immediate health impact. However, do we only see working as short term? Perhaps that is why we care to make as much money as possible when young and retire early, when working is a humungous support in our lives, not just in terms of financial backup, but for the actual satisfaction in life. When we observe the young generations now, many have lost the commitment to work, which in the long run creates many health issues, especially mental issues.
I have a super delicate body and working in the industry I am in, it is impossible for me to work here long term if I did not have supportive measures to care for it. I am also much older than most of my colleagues and peers. Whilst not only saying yes to all different types of production rhythms (often working 16 hour days from super early call time to working through the next day after midnight), holding different jobs and roles such as fashion stylist and producer for commercials, styling support for brands, personal stylist for individual clients, massage therapist to support our body for work etc., I am up for any kind of work situations and deeply enjoys every job. Not only am I completely energised to attend to work, I do not feel tired whilst I work.
Therefore I would love to share some tips to support ourselves in long work days and nights:
1/ Commitment to life and work is key--love what you do, no matter what job you have. It is not your job that gives you satisfaction, but the presence you bring to it that is deeply fulfilling.
2/ Devote religiously to a sleep rhythm in life, with no perfection. I wake up every morning around 4am, I also sleep as much as possible no later than 10pm when there are no night jobs.
3/ Sleep is the most important thing in my life. Although I am unable to always sleep early due to work situations, but that is totally fine and my body will support me when I need to work late, when I consistently care for it when I do not need to work at night. Therefore, I do not say choose to go out late at night with friends, because my sleep time is to devotedly prepare my body when there are nights I need to work. But I see all my friends during the day so they are never left out.
4/ No conditions on work--I'll do whatever is needed to attend to. No conditions and just get on with it. If someone asks me to do something, change something, don't waste time to take anything personally or justify, just do what's been asked of, but never in the expense of my body.
5/ It is my sole responsibility to take care of my body so that it is prepared for work, and to work in any conditions. So no excuses to say it's too hard, I'm tired, I don't know how...all the preparations is up to me to work on, do not lay blame on anyone or anything.
6/ When I work late, I move my body very gently after 5pm. My speech, my body movements etc becomes more gentle. I just deepen my awareness within but my movements are present.
7/ Remain very focused. Never check out at work. I seldom scroll on IG or social media anymore when I work. Just focus on work, and we will not feel tired.
8/ Keep my body light and hydrated. Often I bring my own lunch or dinner to work. Eat lightly (I avoid gluten and dairy) and drink lots of water (no sugary drinks or sodas) to support my body to remain present during the entire work time.
The photo below was a job we did over 2 days, 10 plus hours each day and the picture was taken when we completed the second day--glorious everyone still is. When you honour your movements and the space in our work place, everyone feels it and this is the beauty of work, it is never just for ourselves.
Photo credit: Hannah