Original post : 24 Oct 2013

It's good to get out

In the last couple of weeks I have been thinking very much about isolation.  I am lucky because I work in an office with other people but I used to work from home alone.  I knew when I needed to get out and meet with like-minded people because any phone call would become an opportunity to talk AT somebody.  I was craving the social contact that only a face to face encounter can give you.

In September I attended the first Creative Breakfast in Hertford.  A small group of us got together without any particular agenda (although over time I’m sure we will have things we want to achieve).  Our backgrounds included the arts, retail, local council and my Heinz 57 career of PR/editorial/entrepreneur.  And you know what, the hour flew by because we had so much to talk about and to ask each other.

Fast forward to the beginning of October and the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace.  The show is a perfect chance to catch up with yarnies, designers and other lovely people all under one rather glorious roof.  It was so busy that I didn’t manage many in depth conversations but sometimes it is just enough to have a hug, share a smile and know that people are still around.

There are endless academic papers on the internet that look at the need for social interaction in the young (to help brain development) and in the elderly ( to keep the brain sharp) but all agree that social interaction is vital both for mental and physical health.

As designer makers it is all too easy to become so wrapped up in your work that you barely exchange two words with another human being throughout the day. Social interaction is important for inspiration and creativity. It is possible to be so focused on working alone that you get stuck  - unable to see how to  realise an idea or complete a piece. Sometimes just walking away, taking part in an exercise class, a book group or anything that gets you talking to other people, helps you through that impasse.

As a Life Coach, Clare Wildman helps people from all kinds of backgrounds realise their potential: “Just as a change in scene can stimulate creativity and new thoughts, so can social contact. Nothing beats speaking to someone face to face, sharing ideas and enthusiasms, brainstorming and encouraging each other. “

It’s also one of the reasons that many designer makers enjoy teaching workshops. There is an opportunity to discuss your work with other people and if the class is the right size (6-10 say some) there is the chance for everyone share their own experiences as well as learn something new. Hearing other people’s stories can be inspiring and help your ideas gel, as can the questions that you are asked in workshops.

 Finally Clare has come up with some great tips for us all

  • How many times have you been stuck looking for a new idea, for some inspiration? Meeting up with an old friend or new acquaintance can trigger something that gets you out of the rut?
  • If you are finding it difficult to get out and meet people start by thinking about the things that you used to do and enjoyed.  As we get busier it is all to easy to let these things slide and stop going out. 
  • Who would you like to see or meet?  Ask them.  You don’t have to commit to a full evening.  A quick meet up over coffee may be all that it takes. 
  • Being in a room full of likeminded people can be so energising.  If there isn’t already a group that fits your needs why not start one?
  • Take time to lift your head up and get out there

 

When we think about work life balance we tend to focus on work versus leisure but perhaps we should also think about solitude versus time with people.

Anyone fancy meeting up for a coffee?

Comments

Hello, i sympathise with your message. I m pretty balanced with social activities these days. I used to be lonely and understand it and try to avoid it. My house move to Malvern From Ledbury saved me as people in Ledbury were definitely not sociable with me at all.. Here i get involved with many people and , yes my creativity was assisted by those i have met and grown with. Mainly females.

My male family are of no help at all. So getting out to craft fairs, pubs and meetings is good for me.

I want to continue and hope i can as i am a little disabled and ageing now a bit. I dread the time if and when I cannot do these activities. but make the most of what i can.

I try to make young friends. i read once that this is the duty of all older people; to meet and make friends with younger ones, as a foundation for the future.

Does anyone out there agree?

Comment by Jill Peer - 16 Nov 2013 20:22
Very interesting article. I am fortunate that my work takes me out and most of the summer I talk to dozens of people a day. But when home I have to cope with business, partner, dog and disabled Mother. Never alone I would give anything for some solitude and time to exercise my creative side without constant interruptions. Is there anyone out there who has the perfect work, life balance?
Comment by Jo Davies - 28 Oct 2013 16:42
So true. I spend many days tucked away in my (windowless) office, only talking to the dog. For the last 6 months I have been working in a totally different enviornment for 2 days a week. My productivity has been much higher in a shorter amount of time. I would definately reccomend social interaction. Sadly job has come to an end so now I`m back to talking to the dog & twitter!
Comment by Amanda Jones - 28 Oct 2013 15:36
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