The pressure to have your creativity 'always on' can be mentally draining so it's imperative keep an eye on stress levels and be transparent about how you're feeling. We checked in with Ivana Gatica, Copywriter at Havas Chicago, to chat about how she deals with burnout, her creative process, and how she stays inspired.
Can you give us a brief overview of your role and creative process?
I’m a copywriter at Havas. My main clients are AutoZone and Choose Chicago. On a regular day, I work on anything from social, radio (lots of radio), as well as larger brand campaigns. I’m fluent in Spanish, so I also tackle all the copy needs for AutoZone’s Hispanic market.
My creative process varies. Sometimes my best ideas come to me at night, right as I’m about to fall asleep. Other times they happen on my commute to or from work. That’s the great thing about being a creative in this industry. Ideas can come when you least expect them to.
How do you manage stress levels in a healthy way? What resources or tools are does your agency offer to alleviate stress?
I struggled the most with my mental health during the pandemic. I was living alone and working long hours, and the isolation was really starting to get to me. On a whim, I decided to try out CrossFit at a gym near my house. I never thought I would stick with it, but it quickly became part of my daily routine. It’s been over two years, and I’ve found that working out every morning really helps me manage my stress and start off my day on a good note.
During the pandemic, I also started going to therapy for the first time. Therapy was always something that was seen as a bit taboo in my family, so I didn’t know what to expect. But I ended up learning so much about setting healthy boundaries, both at work and in my personal life.
When it comes to Havas, they offer some great resources for career advancement and mental health. A few months ago, I participated the Femme Forward Academy program, which is designed for women who are earlier in their career and helps them cultivate their voice and build confidence. They had a whole session on self-care and mental health in which they brought in an expert to talk about different ways to manage stress and maintain work/life balance.
Overall, I think it’s important to carve out time to do things you enjoy, especially when work gets really busy. Find half an hour to go for a walk, read a book or do something fun to get your mind off work for a while. It makes a huge difference.
In what ways does your agency support you creatively?
Havas offers many opportunities to participate in briefs that tap into different industries and brands. It helps you not get stuck in the nitty gritty of your day-to-day account and flex different creative muscles. Plus, it’s a great way to work with different people, and learn something new.
How has access to mental health resources evolved over time? Do you feel as though there is adequate support in times of high-stress or when creative motivation is low?
I think managers are more understanding about mental health these days. It’s important for us, as an industry, to realize that we’re not robots. We have good days, and we have bad days. Especially as creatives, it’s important to give ourselves some grace on days where words seem hard to write and good ideas seem out of reach.
Being transparent is the best thing we can do. So, communicate with your manager, and don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself when your workload is too heavy or you’re feeling burnt out.
What advice would you give to the next generation coming into the ad industry?
Find your own path. Find things that inspire you outside of work and that use that in the briefs and campaigns that come your way. Part of what makes advertising fun is that you get to be curious for a living. So be curious outside of your 9-5. Take a pottery class. Try new restaurants. Go to a concert even if you don’t know the artist. Go to museums. Meet cool people. This will all serve you in your work and keep you inspired.