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How I Keep My Sanity As A Designer

How I Keep My Sanity As A Designer

The truth is that there is no actual stress or anxiety in the world; it’s your thoughts that create these false beliefs.

You can’t package stress, touch it, or see it.

There are only people engaged in stressful thinking. –  Wayne Dyer

Deadlines, deadlines and more deadlines, this has been my life in the past couple of years due to a very difficult, challenging and intricate project.

Everyone in the office is pulling their hair out as the client’s Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) keep finding new and ‘creative’ ways to change their original brief and technical recommendations and now it has become a vicious circle.

It is almost like they keep changing their minds on purpose, but it is not so, when one works in a project of that magnitude and scope, there are things likely to go ‘amiss’ during the planning stages, and somehow these missing pieces are compounding to become an eternal barrage of modifications.

This is my life, the customer gets what he pays for and we make sure they do get that and more.

 

How do I keep sane during this challenging period?

These are some suggestions on how I keep my sanity during times of stress. Whether you are a Designer or not these principles can cross-pollinate to other industries and occupations, they are as follow:

 

Be like water my friend – Bruce Lee

I love Karate and Martial Arts in general, and Bruce Lee’s advice transcends age and time.

When we become rigid in our attitudes there is no room for adjustment and sometimes we have to allow some ‘wiggle room’ in order to accomplish our objectives.

Life, career and love will throw a few curve balls and by being docile we accept sometimes we have to take a different path to get to our goals and it is far less stressful if we keep an open mind.

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I use humor (laugh, laugh, laugh)

It is encouraged in the Special Forces to use humor to channel stress and keep a positive state of mind even when there seems no way out.

Laughter releases ‘endorphins’ which is our inbuilt happy drug, this helps us prolong our lives and improve our health when it’s naturally released and laughter is the key.

I have a favorite comedian; the late Robyn Williams, he had this ability to make anyone laugh with the simplest of skits.

Eddie Murphy’s ‘Raw’ and ‘Delirious’ always help me snap out of a grim spell, Eddie takes me back to when I was a teen.

If I am in a real desperate need for a laugh, Dave Chapelle’s old comedy shows cracks me right up.

 

Read about role models and draw inspiration from them

When I am stuck in a ‘hole’, I find inspiration from reading the following Greats:

Sir Norman Foster             – Architecture

Daniel Libeskind                – Architecture

Frank Lloyd Wright            – Architecture

Leonardo Da Vinci             – Inventor, Artist, Architect

Stephan Sagmaister          – Graphic and Visual Design

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Max Miedinger                  – Swiss Graphic Designer and Typographist

Ken Done                           – Australian painter and artist

Jean-Michel Basquiat       – Painter (RIP)

Don Norman                      – UX and Human Centered Design

Stanley Kubric                    – Cinematographer

Tony Robbins                     – Life coach and entrepeneur.

Wayne Dyer                       – Spiritual teacher

Neil Kramer                       – Modern Day Philosopher

I find reading about these inspiring gentlemen a real treat for my soul, they are my role models and I would try to adopt as many of their qualities as I can. I picture myself in their position and that makes me feel better about myself.

 

Exercise and Sports

I love Karate and I also have a gym set up at home, and after a stressful day in the office my wife and I find ourselves working out together listening to music we both like.

Not only do we channel all the frustration and negativity out, but funny enough we bond and find solutions to many challenges we are seeking answers to.

When you spend most of the day staring at a computer screen, there is not a lot of movement taking place, there is a slight muscle atrophy and if under constant duress (as most graphic designers) aches and pains will develop.

By ‘moving’ we also focus on the activity at hand, we clear our thoughts and like a computer we dump useless information that no longer serve us.

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Spend time in nature

Spend time in the woods or at the beach, take yourself away from the city and you will see how wonderful it feels to leave it all behind, whether for a few hours, a day, long weekend or a few.

In Melbourne, we are very lucky we have small parks in every suburb, and I go for a walk every morning tea time for 20 minutes when the weather is good.

Not only is it a good ‘pick me up’ during the day, but it is nice to see other people doing the same, we usually say good morning and it is a great way to bond with other people and is specially extra nice when they take the time to ask you how you are going.

 

Reward yourself for those little wins

When you have a ‘breakthrough’ reward yourself, it doesn’t need to be something big, it can be something as small as a cup of coffee, a muffin, buying lunch or a quick drink after work.

Why reward yourself? Because, it gives you motivation for the next win, re-enforces positive behaviour (good habits) and also makes the effort worth the while.

It is also good on a psychological level because ‘all work and no play, makes your world all grey’ this is my own variation, feel free to use it.

Find your tribe, support network

When the chips are down it is important to have people who will support you and give you that much needed assist to get you out of the mess.

It is important to gravitate to people who have a positive attitude because not only will they be willing to help you, they are likely to have others like them who can potentially come to your aid.

If you have a ‘tribe’ you are a lucky person, but if you don’t, find solutions because they operate at a higher vibration.

If you want to grow, do not spend time with negative people, as they have a problem for every solution, life is way too short.

 

You are not your just your job

Society has taught us we have to define ourselves with what we do for a living and this has originated since the beginning of civilization.

This is where a lot of Old English surnames or last names come from: Tailor, Blacksmith, Arrowsmith, Spinner, Weaver, Baker, Clark, Carter etc.

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Think about it this way, you are way more than your occupation, you are a father, mother, brother, sister, friend, grandpa, grandma, etc. and there is no one else like you in the world, and even if they could clone you there would be a few differences here and there.

When down, I remember I am the winning sperm out of 400,000,000 others.

When I am facing challenges, I remind myself I am the winning sperm out of 400,000,000 and if I made it here I can pretty much accomplish anything if I put my mind to it.

I constantly ask the question: ‘How can I be of a greater service to others’ and one of the answers so far is to be kind, compassionate and caring to other people.

But my burning question is: ‘How can I become better at whatever I do’ that is, having the greatest impact, because this transcends occupation, this delves into the realm of purpose and my own mission in life.

 

Connecting to ‘Source’

This puts things in perspective and helps me raise my vibration, connection to source, God, Yahweh, or whoever you believe in.

I am not preaching Religion, I am preaching ‘Faith’ in yourself and your ability to manifest what you want in life with the help of our Divine Creator regardless of what you call him or her.

We have to start listening to that inner voice and block out all the noise around us, the TV, news, ads, internet, smartphone, sex, drug, rock’n’roll, Justin Beaver, Kylie Minogue, etc. are craving for our attention, and sometimes we need to block them out to listen to your own voice.

There are many people out there who think (preach) to know the truth, but have they ever walked a mile in your shoes? Unless they have, how do they know is best for me or you?

 

You and I are in control of our own destiny

And as a last point, we have been taught we have no power over our own lives, but it is not true, we have the power to make anything happen, all we have to do is to have a vision, develop a plan/strategy and be willing to work hard for it.

By bettering myself and improving my skills I feel more confident about the future and takes away a lot of the uncertainty I feel about the future, every person at some point is concerned about the future, take charge and manifest a better tomorrow by improving yourself now.

If you feel you are stuck in your job, do some online courses, every skill counts and it will look favorable on you CV. Believe it or not, studying has helped me focus on other things rather than the stress of work as it has given me the skills and confidence to solve problems at a higher level.

If you have any other ways you deal with stress, please comment below, let us get the conversation started.

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Louis Salguero

UX, HCD, UCD, GUI, graphic and web designer

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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