The Importance of Self-Care for Designers
A conversation about the personal risks of working in the design industry is long overdue
“You often feel tired, not because you’ve done too much, but because you’ve done too little of what sparks a light in you.” — Unknown
In the early 1900s, some psychiatric hospitals gauged patients’ readiness to integrate back into society through a simple but peculiar test. The patient was ushered into a room with a sink, where the hospital staff would place a plug in the sink, turn on the faucet, and wait for the sink to overflow. As water bubbled over the edge and splashed onto the floor below, the patient was then handed a mop. The staff would leave the room, closing the door behind them.
If the patient turned off the water, unplugged the sink, and mopped up the water that had spilled onto the floor, they were deemed as ready to go home and enter back into society. But if the patient opted to frantically mop as the water gushed out of the sink, failing to turn off the faucet or remove the sink’s plug, they were deemed insane and prescribed more time in the psychiatric hospital. They had failed to acknowledge and address the root of the problem.
Many of you are frantically mopping.
You feel as though the craft you once loved is now robbing you of joy and life.
You feel a consistent and growing tension between boredom and burnout.
You have grown tired and numb to witnessing design thought leaders debate the same👏🏾old👏🏾things👏🏾, only to reinforce branded orthodoxies that, at best, lead to the constant repackaging of ideas into books, blogs, and articles and, at worst, a prideful competition for relevance.
You’ve experienced deep sadness and anxiety during or at the conclusion of long projects and... you don’t quite know why.