October 10th is World Mental Health Day, so we invited Despark team members to share their own stories of how they look after their mental health, both at work and outside work.
We all pour 100% into our mission to create digital products which make a difference, many of which have improving mental health as a core mission. At Despark, we also have remote-first working, team events and we invest in ongoing health and education benefits for all staff. Let’s hear from a few of the Despark crew in their own words:
Daria Koutevska, Frontend Developer
"Being at a desk all day truly is a challenge, especially for an artistic person like me. Computers are a huge passion of mine, but I’ve always felt the need to do something with my hands other than pressing keyboard buttons. Singing, dancing, drawing, playing the piano, pottery, embroidery, flower pressing, you name it, I’ve tried it.
For the past few years however, baking has to be my go to activity when I’m feeling stressed or anxious. It helps me get my mind off of things and the outcome is very rewarding - you get to share the delicious goods with your loved ones and brighten their day as well. These last few months of 2021, I’ve decided to devote all my free time to improving my pastry skills."
Galina Yancheva, Project Manager
"Running multiple concurrent projects and having to switch between them constantly can be stressful. Jumping fitness, yoga, and weekend escapes in the mountains are among my favourite ways to deal with stress. But there are sometimes days when life and work pressure builds up and nothing helps me but to shed a few tears.
This might look extreme, but it vents my emotions, and afterwards, I’m back to normal. There is a ton of social stigma surrounding crying, and I have always been embarrassed about it. Lately, I have worked on accepting it as a healthy emotional outlet."
Ivan Chakov, QA
"We're in front of a screen for almost the entire day. Laptop, phone, Kindle ...
The mountains have always been my go to place, when the mind's had enough. Breathing fresh air, listening to the birds, being offline in the sun is always a perfect way to recharge the batteries from the city's noise and everyday problems. The morning hike, ride, splitboard before/after work is the thing that charges me the most during the week."
Milena Shishkova, Frontend Developer
"Having a routine provides me with a sense of structure and stability and also gives me a certain comfort. However, after a while I feel the need to break the repetitive nature of my work week and to balance my physical and mental state. For that purpose I always have some little side project or a passion, a new hobby, new skill I want to develop and if it involves also a new community of people - it is even better.
Through the years such passions have been learning capoeira, dancing lindy hop, surf, and currently it is - praying for snow during the winter so I could struggle on my snowboarding skills. Achieving even a small amount of progress in something difficult for me provides me with a sense of accomplishment and inner peace."
Nadezhda Yankulska, Marketing Specialist
“There’s so much going on during the week that sometimes it’s really hard to switch off on the weekends. Whenever I feel stressed, I like to go out in nature. I really like gathering wild berries or tea or herbs because it keeps my mind off overthinking and worrying about things outside my control. And everything tastes so much better when you know how much time and attention you devoted to gathering it. Combine that with a nice hike in the mountains and day-to-day worries seem easier to solve.”
Jo Bottell, Product Owner
“As someone who doesn’t like to sit still for too long, I sometimes find being at a desk all day a challenge. To counteract this, I find exercise is the best remedy. When I’m stressed or going through a period of overthinking, moving my body helps me to get out of my head and, more often than not, clears my thoughts. My go-to's are CrossFit and Yoga, however this year with the pandemic I’ve found it really beneficial to find time for any form of movement, even if it’s only a 10 minute walk.”
Jo Bradshaw, Content Manager
“When I was little I wanted to be a potter, so now my project restoring an old cottage means I get to play with clay and natural materials all the time. Digging, mixing, plastering, polishing - these are all forms of meditation for me, and intensely grounding. If I’m having a bad day, being in contact with earth, lime, cob or stones always helps quiet my mind, and it’s been an essential escape activity during the pandemic.
Natural building is an antidote to tech, and if I find myself trapped in a loop of doomscrolling or consuming content, there’s something powerful about creating a physical texture or space.”
Stoyan Ilchev, CEO
“My work has a lot of hidden anxiety, just from the many things I need to balance and the huge responsibility I bear for the team. I truly believe that who I am as a person has a direct reflection on how I lead and what the culture at the organisation is. I’ve committed to working with a therapist on a weekly basis to try and ease the stress, improve my resilience and increase my overall self awareness and emotional intelligence."
From baking to hiking, yoga, building or crying, there are all sorts of healthy ways we release stress and make time for our own mental wellbeing. We bring this insight and understanding into our work on digital health and wellbeing projects, too. Check out some of our recent case studies to read more.