Let me start by saying that I absolutely love my career. It’s what drives me every day and I have unending energy and passion for it, as most creatives do. It’s important to remember as you read through the information that links creatives to mental health — that we love it, choose it and for the most part, wouldn’t change it.

Illustration of a creative person ‘showing’ someone all of the thoughts in their head.
Illustration of a creative person ‘showing’ someone all of the thoughts in their head.

I have been working as a designer for nearly 10 years, holding different positions along the way but one thing is forever the same. The feeling of unease and uncertainty, regardless of how strong you seem. To be a good designer is forever to doubt yourself and know you can always do better, which can sometimes feel the opposite to everyone else. In a professional office setting, you tend to find that everyone is working with definite information. Whether it’s requirements or data, they have a defined set of guidelines to follow to achieve their goal. …


Image for post
Image for post

Imposter

A person who pretends to be someone else in order to deceive others, especially for fraudulent gain.

Imposter Syndrome

The persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.

“I feel like an imposter”

‘Imposter’ by definition, is negative. It portrays the assumption of being deceitful for unsavoury reasons.

In a conversation with one of the talented young designers I work with, she expressed the feelings of imposter syndrome. I find that this is a common theme of conversation throughout every level of a role and organisation. …


Seems like such a strange concept — the art of listening. Listening is a completely automatic response, I mean, when you have a conversation you listen, right?

Illustration of someone sitting down listening to someone else talk.
Illustration of someone sitting down listening to someone else talk.

To hear or to listen

Oxford languages define listening as ‘giving one’s attention to a sound’, while the Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries both define listening as ‘to give attention to someone or something in order to hear him, her’. I find this distinction really interesting and important. Listening as a word in the English language means to hear a sound, whereas the act of listening is so much more. The act of listening involves cognitive ability, understanding and sometimes empathy.

The way I think of this is like having a conversation with someone about the weather. That’s fine, right? Easy enough, we‘ve all done it… Now try having the same conversation with someone who you don’t share a language with. You are still hearing the conversation, however, now that you lack the cognitive connection and understanding, you can’t effectively listen. …


In my not so humble opinion, mental health is the yin to physical health yang

Illustration showing someone with a to do list. A heart shape is show over the brain of the person to represent mental health
Illustration showing someone with a to do list. A heart shape is show over the brain of the person to represent mental health

Let’s start with a clear statement — Mental health and mental ill-health are not to be confused. If you have a brain, you have mental health.

The problem

From a young age, we are taught how to be kind, how to love and how to show up… for everyone but ourselves. We are taught that putting ourselves first is selfish. For some reason we are not taught to build a relationship with ourselves, to get to know yourself so deeply that we know what we want and more importantly, what we need. This lack of self-awareness coupled with hiding anxieties and insecurities to progress in our careers leaves us without the tools we need to look after our mental health. I mean, be honest, do you even know how to look after your mental health? …


Why we should all be relentlessly empathetic

Illustration of two people from different backgrounds connecting by hand
Illustration of two people from different backgrounds connecting by hand

Ever watched those ‘epic fail’ videos on youtube? Where people fail and usually fall in all kinds of spectacular ways. Are you like me and wince every time it happens, like you actually feel it yourself. When it happens you grab whatever part of the body they dramatically injured. I mean, I think we have all seen men grab their crotch when a child accidentally manages to get some purchase on a football and it hits with some speed. Well, this is empathy…

Empathy is our ability to understand and feel the experience of another from that person’s frame of mind. The term comes from the Ancient Greek empatheia, which means “physical affection or passion”. In children, lower levels of empathy can contribute to a conflict in social interactions and heighten levels of negative emotions. …


My personal experience and some top tips

Illustration showing rainbow flag which isa symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) pride.
Illustration showing rainbow flag which isa symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) pride.

Pride Month

In the early hours of June 28th 1969 in Greenwich Village, New York City police raided a gay club named the Stonewall Inn. This raid started a riot among bar patrons and neighbourhood residents as police roughly hauled employees and patrons out of the bar, leading to six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the bar on Christopher Street, in neighbouring streets and in nearby Christopher Park. The Stonewall Riots served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.† …


Is it marijuana? Will it make you high? Can you drive if you take it? Do you smoke it? Will it make you drowsy? Can people tell you are taking it? What’s it actually for?

Illustration showing CBD oil bottle pippet dropping CBD oil into someones hand
Illustration showing CBD oil bottle pippet dropping CBD oil into someones hand

What is CBD oil?

CBD stands for cannabidiol, it is one of 113 identified cannabinoids found in marijuana and hemp and accounts for up to 40% of the plant’s extract. The effects of marijuana, when smoked or ingested, are split into two — psychoactive (THC) and non-psychoactive (CBD), therefore CBD will not make you ‘high’. Basically, it’s the part of marijuana that makes you feel relaxed.

The Human Body’s Response

The endocannabinoid system is a molecular system that exists within the human body that is responsible for regulating and balancing many processes, including immune response, communication between cells, appetite and metabolism, memory, pain and more. It is a complex network of receptors and neurotransmitters spread throughout the body. …


How to build your own recharge ritual and learn to choose yourself

Illustration showing someone sat along on a rock within nature
Illustration showing someone sat along on a rock within nature

From a young age, we are taught how to be kind, how to love and how to show up… for everyone but ourselves. We are taught that putting ourselves first is selfish. For some reason we are not taught to build a relationship with ourselves, to get to know yourself so deeply that we know what we want and more importantly, what we need.

At the age of sixteen we are asked to make a decision on what we want to do for the rest of our lives, and not knowing is not an option. This is usually the first time we are asked to make a decision for ourselves, by ourselves, that will shape the rest of our lives — and wow, what a heavy decision it is. …


The art of validating error messages is more than just telling your user that they are wrong.

Illustration showing ‘designer’ pointing at a user with a lot of validation messages next to them as if to point blame.
Illustration showing ‘designer’ pointing at a user with a lot of validation messages next to them as if to point blame.

OOPS, YOU DID SOMETHING WRONG.

YOU BROKE SOMETHING.

YOU’RE WRONG, BUT I’M NOT TELLING YOU WHY.

NOPE, TRY AGAIN.

FIX IT YOURSELF *SHRUG*

Yep, that’s how bad error messages feel, and nobody wants to feel that way! You need your users to feel cared for, to build relationships and trust — especially if you work in any kind of financial industry where users need to feel secure and supported throughout.

Technically a validation error message lets you define a custom error message to display if the required field hasn’t been filled. Error messages are a great way to improve your user experience — and great user experience means you’re more likely to see a boost in conversions. It’s a place to develop and share your brand voice and personality. To create effective and positive error messages that add value and don’t frustrate your users, you should concentrate on the language, placement, and visual design. …


Surrender is something I have been learning over the past 6 months, it’s something I need to learn in my life so that I am not all consumed by the love I have for others.

Illustration showing someone with a lot of lists floating around, as if to signify a list of tasks
Illustration showing someone with a lot of lists floating around, as if to signify a list of tasks

I’ll start by saying that I am a completely different person when I care about someone than I am when I don’t. When I care about someone I will do almost anything for them — I put them before myself without question. This makes it difficult to know when to draw the line between surrender and action.

When I first started to take steps towards surrendering for the first time, I was wrong — I thought that it was surrender or action, black or white, left or right. …

About

Emms

UX designer, accessibility champion and mental health first aider and advocate.

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