Mental health is always important. I’m not about to say markers’ mental health is more important than anyone else’s, but I do think makers in particular need to play close attention to their mental health. Why?
Makers use social media to showcase their products, interact with the community and to ask for help. While social media has been instrumental to the community’s success, we’re all well aware that social media takes advantage of our innate weaknesses. Personally, I know if I spend too much time on Twitter I start to feel like I’m not doing enough, even when I’m already over stretched.
I love to see people doing well, but sometimes seeing so many people doing so many things compounds into everyone’s doing things all the time and I’m not doing enough so I’m going to get left behind. If I don’t keep on top of this, I spiral into an unmanageable state full of anxiety, guilt and irritation. I’d happily bet on me not being the only one.
Wearing multiple hats
Makers usually make in their spare time, alongside their full-time job. You’re damn right we got a side hustle or two. Yes, it shows commitment. Yes, it shows hard work. And hell yes, makers can multitask. But it does mean makers are quite susceptible to burn out, in my experience at least.
I sometimes find it hard to manage my full time-work, side projects and trying to be somewhat social, but I find it even harder to not have extra-curricular activities. It’s definitely possible to wear multiple hats and do multiple things, but it is something that needs balance, and finding that balance often means you have to fail before you succeed.
The pressure of numbers
For the most part, makers are concerned about metrics. Whether it’s followers, subscribers, likes or cash. Each of these things are important, to deny so would undermine the hard work of small businesses and independent makers who rely on these things for their revenue.
However, being metric focused can sometimes be detrimental to the ol’ mental health. Numbers often mean something, but can sometimes mean nothing. Attributing worth to something you’ve made is no easy feat, especially when you’re starting out or releasing a new thing and makers usually rely on a certain amount of engagement before they deem something a success.
Sometimes I find relying on metrics to be more stressful than not. I like to be organised but find adding too many rules to my life, such as ‘publish a blog post every week’, to be restrictive. That being said, it would be valid to argue that there does need to be a certain repetitiveness or a certain metric does need to be met in order for things to happen. I just think meticulously watching the numbers all the time can be a bit depressing, but if things are going your way it can also be really great.
As makers, we’re often other thinkers, anxious and obsessive. And while these are beautiful traits, they can easily escalate into a panic attack or depressive episode. So what can help?
Reaching out to the community
As we’ve touched upon, social media can be problematic and whilst the bad can sometimes outweigh the good, social media can be a wonderful place to seek advice and support.
Whenever I’ve talked about my mental health on social media, I’ve been overwhelmed by the support I’ve received and after seven years in the looking-after-mental-my-health business, I still learn new things even when I think I know it all.
Working in public
The same goes for when I’ve worked in public, regardless of whether I’ve been talking about a problem or a success. There’s some really good eggs out there. Twitter is usually the place I start, but LinkedIn, Instagram and even Facebook can also be good. Join Slack or Telegram groups as well, I’ve yet to come across a dickhead on those.
Books and podcasts
I love reading, but it’s okay if you don’t. Most books have an audio version, or you can download it on your tablet so you don’t have to lug around mounds of paper. I’m planning on reading these this year, but these are the ones that have been life changing for me:
- The Subtle Art of not giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
- The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
- Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway – Susan Jeffers
- What a Time to be Alone – Chidera Eggerue
- A Million Little Pieces – James Frey
- The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
- Cunt – Inga Muscio
- Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig
- Scar Tissue – Anthony Kiedis
- A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
Podcasts are great, Jon Ronson is my favourite. There are also some really good apps. Calm, Insight Timer, Mindful Break Chrome extension and Rainy Mood are all ones I use. Some of them have been gamified so you can earn points for streaks; those work well for some, but increase my guilt when I don’t feel like doing it, which obviously doesn’t help my anxiety.
Being an anxious, obsessive over thinker probably helps me be good at what I do, in some twisted way. But it does need controlling and looking after. Therapy, group therapy, medication, meditation and exercise are all things worth trying. I’ve also started to unfollow people on social media by asking myself “do I feel worse about myself when I look at this person’s feed” and if the answer is anything other than “no”, I say buh bye.
To me, mental health should come before everything else, but I know that’s not always straightforward. There is no superior way of managing it or dealing with it, but at least by recognising it, you’re not pretending it doesn’t exist, which I think in the long run makes things a lot worse. This is why I feel the most important thing a person can do is to recognise when things aren’t going so well.