Self-Care is for UX

The Most Important Thing You’re Not Doing as a UX Designer

If UX is all about empathy and caring about users, why don’t we care for ourselves the same way?

Vivianne Castillo
Published in
9 min readDec 10, 2019
Illustration: Deb Lee

This story is from the Founder of HmntyCntrd and is part of Self-Care is for UX, a series on the personal risks of working in design.

As I’m writing this, I’m having “one of those days.”

I barely got any sleep, survived the work day on a steady diet of processed snacks and coffee (then attempted to alleviate guilt from the latter by drinking an annoyingly excessive amount of water), hyped myself through a flash of imposter syndrome, opted out of the healthy dinner I prepared for myself last night and ordered fast food, and I’ll probably conclude the night with a couple episodes of How to Get Away with Murder and Pose before I go to bed, hoping I get just enough sleep to function tomorrow.

Sound familiar? Feel free to add your kids acting up, microaggressions, family drama, petty workplace politics, bouts of depression and anxiety, tight project deadlines, being the “one of few or the one and only” in your workplace, and/or struggles with finding meaning or purpose in your work to your own picture of “one of those days.”

Oh, and don’t forget the number one responsibility you have as a UX professional: being an advocate and champion for your company’s customers in a human-centered and empathic way.

I’m reminded of an image I came across the other day:

A model of a sensory homunculus sculpted by Sharon Price-James; the concept of the sensory homunculus originally comes from Dr. Wilder Penfield, an American-Canadian neurologist.

It’s one thing to ask a child to draw a picture of themselves, or even for us to attempt to draw ourselves, but what if we were able to give our brain a pencil and have it draw what we look like based on how the brain sees the body? The results would be far from the art of Michelangelo: The brain would draw us with oversized hands, feet, lips, genitalia, and tongue. This portrayal of the body is known as the sensory homunculus, a representation of how the brain would portray the different parts of our body according to the proportion of the…



Vivianne Castillo
Writer for

UX Researcher. Humanity in Tech Advocate-Warrior. Founder of HmntyCntrd ( Choosing courage over comfort.