The mental health of designers is an important concept, but less talked about.
Designing is a profession that includes subjectivity and creativity and demands looking at things in a very different way. This often leads to stress, self-doubt, anxiety, and sometimes, panic.
In this article, you’re going to learn about why designers need to pay attention to their mental health and ways to maintain it.
Let’s get started.
What is mental health?
Mental health is a state that includes your social, psychological, and emotional well-being. It affects your behaviour, feelings, and thoughts towards different scenarios in life.
Mental health also affects your decision-making abilities and relationships.
Why do designers suffer from mental health problems?
There are two instances when designers start noticing the ill effects on their mental health.
Firstly, the designers are given loads of work within a short period. The work can be anything from conducting user research, wireframing interfaces, drafting design guidelines, and much more.
Due to this heavy workload and tighter deadlines, designers are overwhelmed and try to find shortcuts, which eventually hinders their creativity. In the long run, they find themselves devoid of new creative ideas and they start to self-doubt themselves.
Secondly, working on repetitive tasks over and over again drains their creativity.
The work may include preparing designs for A/B testing, adding predefined elements to interfaces, etc. Doing repetitive work can be a source of negative emotions such as resentment, impatience, and lack of gratitude.
The designer will feel like a machine instead of a creative professional.
What difficulties do designers face when they are not mentally healthy?
Designers can often suffer from stress, anxiety, imposter syndrome, and depression when they are not mentally well.
They tend to overthink things, experience a lack of self-confidence, and worry about even petty things. They may be extremely intelligent but won’t be able to internalize it because of clouded feelings.
This will negatively influence their work in ways such as being unable to work productively with the team, the inability to generate creative ideas, and understanding user needs comprehensively.
They will constantly judge their work and undermine their potential as a designer. They may also take longer hours to complete the work, thereby creating an imbalance in their lives as well as delays in the project.
Why is it important to maintain mental health as a designer?
It is important because having good mental health helps you cope with the stress in life. Good mental health ensures better decision-making while leading to better choices. It also helps you build great relationships.
Being mentally healthy will boost your confidence and self-esteem which helps to showcase yourself as an attractive and influencing personality.
As a designer, you will be able to collaborate well with the team and work on the project with your utmost potential.
Good mental health helps you come up with great design ideas and execute them into final products.
Designers will be able to understand the clients’ and users’ needs completely and align them to create an attractive and user-centric design. Also, they are open to feedback and constructively take them.
Ways To Maintain Good Mental Health
1. Get rid of bad clients
Bad clients can significantly hamper a designer’s mental health.
Designers might start hating the designing process if the client is rude.
How do you identify a bad client?
- They don’t respect your time
Clients that call you anytime and expect you to respond to work any time of day or night are not the ones you want to work with.
Working round the clock will make you frustrated and unproductive.
Talk to your client about such issues and find a solution together.
If the client disagrees and continues to stick with this attitude, warn him that it will only lead to discontinuation of the work.
Don’t leave the project in the middle of everything. This will lead to more disputes and ultimate dent your reputation.
Lastly, if the client doesn’t change his working style, complete that particular phase of the project and say goodbye.
In this way, you can warn the client of the repercussions and give him the time to change his approach.
- They go way beyond the scope of work
Bad clients don’t acknowledge and respect the scope of the work.
During several stages of the project, they may try to insist you work on several things that are outside the decided scope without paying extra money.
This is unprofessional and counter-productive. So it is wise to say no to such clients.
- Clients that wear down your morale
It’s one thing to ask the designers for revisions and another to demean them and hit at their confidence and morale.
Design is a subjective field and can hold a different perspective for everyone. So it’s better to get rid of clients that don’t respect and acknowledge your design knowledge and creativity.
- The client is underpaying
There’s nothing worse than putting your heart and soul into a project and getting paid pennies for it. This will lead you to feel discontented and make you feel jealous and hateful.
Instead of loving the designing process, underpaying clients will make you dislike it. Understand the value of your work and work with clients that acknowledge it.
2. Banish Imposter syndrome
Suffering from imposter syndrome is one of the most common reasons for poor mental health.
Imposter syndrome is a disorder in which a person keeps doubting his creative abilities and finds himself incompetent. It’s a feeling that you lack talent.
However, this is an illusion. As a creative professional and a designer, everyone is learning, executing, and failing throughout the journey.
As a matter of fact, only a handful of designers are completely satisfied with their work because there is scope for improvement in every design. One can never be truly satisfied.
What’s worth remembering is that this happens to everyone irrespective of the experience you have in the design field.
Designers only showcase their best work and rarely display the worst. Also, the output is often a result of the multiple revisions and changes they struggled with to get the design right.
So you need to stop doubting yourself and your skill, you’ve got the potential and talent you need.
3. Share your problems with the designers’ community
Your difficulties can be understood by someone who has experienced the same. That’s why it’s important to talk about your problems with fellow designers.
This will help you manage your problems and stop them from bothering you anymore.
Know that, the design industry is nurturing, supportive, and encouraging. Be honest with them, open up with your problems and you will be surprised to hear the solutions and the feedback.
4. Look after your body
One of the significant things you can do to improve your mental health is to have a healthy body. Sleep is very crucial in maintaining good physical and mental health. For adults, at least 7 hours of sleep is a must.
Deprived hours of sleep can cause several physical as well as mental problems such as poor focus, and less concentration with a bad memory.
Another great way is to exercise. Scientists have found that an adequate amount of exercise is extremely beneficial for your body & mind. It helps you relieve stress and make you feel refreshed.
You can go for a run, ride a bike, brisk walk or jog, swim or practise yoga to keep your body healthy. This will truly have a magical effect on your mental health as well.
5. Ignore the competition
The fastest way to get your mental health back on track is to stop comparing your work with that of other designers.
Remember, you don’t have to be better than others, you should focus on being better than who you were yesterday.
If you keep comparing your work with fellow designers, you will always feel that your design is not that good. Comparison steals the joy from the process, making you dislike your designs.
It’s good to take inspiration but don’t doubt your capabilities and potential. One thing you should keep in mind is that perfection is a myth, and you should not aim for perfection. Rather, your focus should be on the designs that look well, but more importantly, function well.
If you are going through any problems that affect your mental health, remember you’re not alone and you’re not the problem.
Mental health problems should not be suppressed and openly talked about within the workplace and society.
Try the above-mentioned techniques and you will witness an improvement in your mental health. Good Luck!
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