Stress occupies a spectral position in the life of a freelancer. It waits in the wings and heckles you when the realities of juggling multiple jobs knock you for ten. When ignored, it can manifest horribly. What’s equally sickening is that our fantasies of stress-free living are repackaged and sold back to us in the pages of self-help books with shouty titles, in lattes garnished with CBD oil, Gin and Chronics and cannabis flavoured gummies sponsored by celestial avant-garde Icelanders Sigur Rós.
Writing on anxiety, the bedfellow of unmoderated stress, in Exposure (Peninsula Press), Olivia Sudjic describes the highs and lows of anxiety following the publication of her debut novel,
Sympathy. Sudjic finds solace in a ritualistic consultation of horoscopes, an act which she feels equips her with ‘Some sense of preparedness, despite not believing in it.’ She continues, ‘At my worst, I see danger everywhere because I am trying to anticipate it. I feel waves of dread, nausea and then that thing lodged in my chest that makes it hard to breathe,’ [p.27]. One of the key contributing factors to this untethered sense of paranoid anxiety, Sudjic diagnoses, is the phenomenon of internet transparency which pervades social media and social interactions.
It’s the assumption that you’re ever-ready, refreshing your emails every 5-10 minutes; That you’ll have an active social media presence and won’t ignore your boss’ texts. She resolves: ‘Greater intrusion. Greater anxiety,’ [p.76]. Whilst Sudjic is quick to place the blame on intrusive technologies as dangerous contributors to the proliferation of stress and anxiety, the internet is equally and undoubtedly a positive space for forging communities and candidly discussing experiences of mental health. This week’s stress-busting cultural tip-offs are intended to soothe and decompress the busy freelancer, but needless to say, they’re hardly medicine. If you feel like your stress is tipping past the point of manageability, please do seek help.
Well done for making it through the week! Welcome to Friday! You’ve been labouring on fifteen simultaneous projects and you’re aching for an evening activity. For the logophiles amongst you, The Vaults are hosting an unmissable evening of poetry with the longstanding collective, ‘Bang Said the Gun.’ Their previous special guests have included poets such as Roger McGough, Kate Tempest, Andrew Motion and Hollie McNish and they boast a confident tagline which promises to appease even the biggest poetic cynics: ‘POETRY FOR PEOPLE WHO DON’T LIKE POETRY.’
For a fur-full and alcohol-free Saturday, The Blue Cross Animal Hospital in Collier’s Wood is hosting an open day with the opportunity to meet the vets as well as acquaint yourself with their four-legged colleagues. Hospital tours are £2 and the warm glow inside your chest is thoroughly gratis. If your own cat gets wind of your activities and starts leaving agitated voicemails asking when you’ll be home, perhaps you should administer a dose of Hemp Oil For Pets™ for ‘separation anxiety, less scratching, stress relief, arthritis support and increased appetite’.
Sunday morning blearily rears its head, you’re desperate for the company of an undisclosed number of small dogs and your jean pockets are weighed down with 35 shiny pound coins. Don’t think twice- sling your trousers and slip on your hareem pants for Puppy Yoga. Is the yogi a Yorkie? Quite frankly, I have none of the answers- the location is only disclosed following the purchase of your ticket.
If Sudjic is still on your mind this evening, head along to The Second Shelf for a collaborative event with Ache Magazine where the author will be in conversation with fellow writer Thea Hawlin, discussing ‘illness, health, bodies, and pain.’ Try a mindfulness playlist on the bus over, or perhaps just the opening verses of Julia Michaels’ ‘Anxiety’ ft. Selena Gomez, for a taste of ultra-transparently-woke Gen-Z poppery (‘My friends, they wanna take me to the movies/ I tell ’em to fuck off, I’m holding hands with my depression’). Take a deep breath and take care.