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Take Care of Yourself: Mental Health and the Design Field

In 2018, mental health issues are not a rarity. In the creative industry, there is an even greater chance of developing poor mental health. According to the Eye On Design article “The Links Between Creativity and Depression,” the industry’s “frequent long hours, stressful projects, glass ceilings and frantic working environments can all exacerbate latent mental health conditions, and in creative environments these conditions are purported to be more common than anywhere else.” This means that as designers, we need to be especially attentive about making sure our mental health is in tip top shape. But how do we do this?

1.) Know (and set) your limitations. One of the reasons designers are so stressed is because they don’t set limits. I don’t know about you, but when I think about working in the field, I imagine getting little to no sleep because my work will follow me home. This is not healthy. It is important to set limitations, both for yourself and for your employer/clients. Set work hours are a must, and while they may need to be broken on occasion, breaking them should be the exception, not the rule.

2.) Do not compare yourself to others. Design is a very competitive field, and it’s hard not to compare yourself to others. Don’t do this. Learn from other designers, be inspired by them, but do not compare yourself to them. Their strengths may not be yours. Just because they do one thing better than you does not mean that you are not “as good as them.” Perhaps they just have more experience. Maybe your strengths lay elsewhere.

3.) Don’t bottle everything up. This one applies to just about everyone, actually. One of the best ways to guarantee poor mental health is to never talk about your problems. Whether it’s just normal, everyday stress or a serious mental health issue, it is important to acknowledge it and talk about it. You don’t have to be alone, and talking to someone, whether that be a friend or a therapist, can be a great source of relief. If you don’t let anything out ever, eventually you’re going to burst open.

There are many ways to foster good mental health, both for yourself and in the workplace, and these are just a few. They may work for you, or they may not. If they don’t, that’s ok. Keep looking, and do what you need to to take care of you.