Finding balance

Since the beginnings of our campaign, Mindapples has found supporters in the creative communities. Perhaps it’s because people involved in the arts and innovation recognise the importance of their minds and their capacity for change, or perhaps it’s because they enjoy the celebrations of individual ways to wellbeing, and a more human-centred approach to health. Or perhaps they just like pictures of apples.

Either way, we’ve felt a connection to these communities from the start, and we’ve been so concerned by what’s been happening to the sector since COVID-19 hit. From the impact on artists and musicians to the pressures on venues and the general uncertainties about when we can get “back to normal”, it’s been a worrying time for everyone.

That’s why, in May 2020, we joined forces with our friends at the hub and the Creative Industries Federation to launch Balance, a series of talks and online events to help artists, freelancers and creative entrepreneurs to balance their minds and their books, and put protecting their mental health top of their to do list.

The sessions have all been hosted by our Head Gardener at Mindapples, Andy Gibson, and the director of the hub, Julia Payne. All the sessions have been recorded and can be watched in full on the hub’s YouTube channel.

We began the first Balance session by exploring the need for artists, creative freelancers and entrepreneurs to take care of their minds in order to take care of their businesses, especially during a period of such seismic change and ongoing uncertainty. Participants shared their “mindapples” 5-a-days and the discussions continued online and in action learning groups and drop-ins over the coming weeks.

Our second session was focussed on that uncertainty, how to make better friends with it and how getting to know ourselves a little better can help with that. We also talked about building resilience and how that links to resourcefulness. During these sessions we encouraged sharing ideas, insights and experiences, and the lovely group who attended Balance 2 came up with an excellent list of what works for them when tackling anxiety and keeping worry at bay. (You might also like to take a look at our tipsheet on How To Be Resilient, which explores bouncing back from setbacks, coping with change and growing through adversity.)

In Balance 3 we talked about staying motivated, making good decisions amidst chaos and finding the right path to a future you’ve had a hand in inventing. “Inventing the future” is a phrase that Julia uses instead of business planning when working with her creative clients, because business planning in the creative sector is as much about what makes your heart sing as it is about making the books balance. We were joined by around 50 people from across the creative sector in the UK, France and Portugal and the conversation was gloriously lively! We also crowd-sourced a great list of business planning or ‘future inventing’ questions that we built together during the session.

Each session has been illustrated live by Sarah Singleton from her studio in Essex. Below is Sarah’s graphic illustration from Balance 4.

Balance 4 was about how to stay creative and positive, and sustaining creativity in the current climate. We looked at how to apply creative thinking to complex problems, why not paying attention can also be a form of work, and how to stay productive, manage our energy and keep our minds fresh. (Here’s another Mindapples tipsheet on How to Be Productive too.)

Balance 5 – part of the hub’s World Mental Health Day Balance One-Dayer – was about embracing the future while staying true to yourself. We discussed our different attitudes to change, why some people struggle with it more than others, how to get comfortable with it and how it can help us grow.

Balance 6 explored how to keep burnout at bay, how it differs from exhaustion, how it’s morphing into something new during the pandemic and we discussed ways that we can support each other and help keep our spirits up.

The last session of 2020, Balance 7, explored what we want to keep from 2020 and what we want to change, how habits can help us build effective routines to stay healthy and productive, why changing our habits is hard, and some tips on retraining your minds. We closed the year with discussion of the power of gratitude and our hopes for 2021 – both for how we wish to work and live ourselves, and for the creative sector at large. (We also danced to Slade.)

We delivered these sessions to over 800 artists, writers, producers, directors, make-up artists, label managers and so many more wonderful creative humans between June and December last year. If you missed them first time round and want to find out more, or want to watch them all over again, then you can do that here. A few of our favourite comments are below too:

I love listening to Julia and Andy from Mindapples in conversation, they help you feel included and relevant as opposed to isolated and irrelevant.

I regularly watch the Balance talks. I’ve watched them all for far, whether live or the recorded version. I like them because they specifically cater for creative entrepreneurs. It’s really beneficial to have a regular check-up with like-minded people, to motivate myself to carry on … watching all of them is good because each one builds on the others.

Finally, we’re delighted to announce that this series of talks will continue into 2021, and following a successful funding bid with Arts Council England, we’ll also be creating some new online resources and training.

More will be revealed soon so if you’d like to keep in touch, why not join our mailing list? Or come and say hello on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and probably lots of other places.

Love from,

The Mindapples Team x