Mindfulness…what’s it really all about? It seems that over the past year or so, meditation and the art of ‘making time for the things we love’ has found its way into the minds and hearts of all walks of life, the world over. Proven to relieve stress and anxiety, a recent report even claimed that prescribing such activities could help the NHS manage the nation’s mental health predicament – from dance workshops to growing your own vegetables to art classes. And on the subject of paint brushes, that leads me onto wellness in the workplace and what, as a necessity, it has come to mean to us at Punch.
As a team of hardworking professionals, we also take time to look after each other – whether that’s hot-desking it around the office, sharing lunch, a mentoring session on the picnic benches (and not to mention the who-knows-how-many kettles boiled on an average daily basis). But underneath it all, what also requires nurturing is our creativity. It’s what makes us tick – what drives us into the office every morning. It’s what brings us together to do the best work we do, because we care. So for this spring’s team building day, we kept things closer to home. Instead, we were invited to bring our hobbies to work and share them with our fellow creatives, in return for learning something new. Enforcing a screen-free zone for the day, here’s a taster of what we got up to…
Floristry with Celia and Janey
When it comes to telling your carnations from your chrysanthemums, our resident florists Celia and Janey know a thing or two. Inviting us into their pop-up flower shop, the team were treated to a morning of flower arranging and bouquet tying, with a whole bunch of tips and tricks along the way. Having inherited a love of flowers from her mother, Senior Account Director Celia has always had a penchant for perennials. “I love the satisfaction of creating something beautiful (with a bit of fiddling and arranging). It’s enormously therapeutic, too.” Operations Director Janey first became interested when she discovered her ‘flair’ for florals, and has since arranged wedding flowers for close friends.
(Above) The Punch team looking pretty among the posies
Sculpting with Dan
3D artist Dan was keen to share his prowess with the team, as students were tasked with building a human ear (or something that closely resembled one), using bricks of air drying clay. The results, to Dan’s surprise, were alarmingly good; participants then moved on to create a whole medley of models including eyes, noses, hands, dogs, cats, the Loch Ness monster and so on. With a degree in Games Art, Dan was first drawn to sculpting during his university days: “Pushing clay around with your hands is completely analogue in comparison to the more technical side of digital sculpting.” But where does wellness fit in? As Dan likes to put it, quite simply: “It’s just me and a block of clay.”
Jigsaw puzzles with Emily
Sometimes, there’s nothing better than getting stuck into a good jigsaw. “I’ve always loved board games, word games and jigsaws (I put this down to mum being strict with the amount of TV I was allowed to watch as a kid).” Account Director Emily led this nostalgia-fuelled session, as Punch members worked together to build the bigger picture. Proven to lower stress levels, the cognitive benefits of puzzles also boost problem solving skills, visual thinking and can improve the memory. Whilst jigsaws aren’t the only activity Emily enjoys outside of work, her reason for bringing it to work? “It symbolises indulgent time out, away from the daily grind.” (She was most definitely right, we’re still using tea breaks to work on it.)
(Above) There’s no puzzle the Punch team can’t fix
Languages with Nico and Barbara
As a relatively well-travelled team, we jumped at the chance to brush off our language skills courtesy of multi-lingual Account Directors Nico and Barbara. Having grown up in an international community, Nico is fluent in Spanish, whilst Székesfehérvár native Barbara volunteered to teach (we expect the majority of) the group their first Hungarian words. On mastering a new language and the joy it brings, Nico explained: “Learning another language can open you up to a whole world of new opportunities, allowing you to connect more meaningfully to an entirely different group of people.”
Creative writing with Lou
When it came to bringing my own passion to work, the answer was clear. Whilst I write for my job, it also makes up a huge part of who I am outside of work. What was unexpected however, was the incredible prose the team went onto pen with a bit of time in the sunshine. Led by the theme ‘lost and found’, we used borrowed dialogue from colleagues (AKA eavesdropping) as the initial stimulus for our short stories, and waited to see where the free writing train took us. The results were heart-wrenching (yes there were tears) – from a father who lost his sight to a man who lost his boat; not even the fun haiku poetry session could save us. But above all, it gave us permission to be alone with our creative thoughts for a while, with no parameters (and certainly no character limit).
With music-making, photography, illustration, countryside walks and Dungeons & Dragons (the card game) added to the mix, there was something new for everyone to try during our mindfulness day. We even paused for a meditation session with our Archway House neighbours next door, learning the importance of taking time out as an essential part of daily routine – and a mantra for good health in the long-term. Rounding off the day with an after party (and excuse to polish off the lunchtime buffet), we found ourselves sharing more of what we’d discovered, with many new passions realised. And what better way to do that among fellow creative minds, among fellow friends. We’re certainly planning the next one already…