Mental health and Creativity

Brought to you by Reel Talk with Jason: Freelancing Made Easy

Not everyone is going to like what you create, but that shouldn’t stop you. In this edition of Reel Talk, we have a special guest, local creative Sara-Jane Austen, founder of Designerbloom Graphic Design. Sara-Jane talks about how you can take care of your mental health when you have to deal with negative feedback about your creative work. And, she looks at how you can manage creative blocks.

As a creative freelancer, how can I take care of my mental health?

Being an introvert who has a social threshold of an hour or two before needing a break, I do find that creativity is my therapy - my happy place. I get so ignited when a fresh new project lands in my inbox - this is where I thrive and come alive! 

But too much of one thing isn't good for anyone. I can easily go weeks without speaking to someone outside of my home. I get around this by occasionally forcing myself to a networking event, and spending time with like-minded people on the occasional Saturday night where I can let loose! I do feel it's important to keep your life varied where you can, which I admit isn't easy when balancing work, home-keeping, children and relationships. 

I make sure to relax every night in front of Netflix (or the likes!) for an hour or two before bedtime, otherwise there's too much on my mind when I go to bed. Obviously getting a solid amount of sleep every night is a must for anyone's mental wellbeing!

How do I deal with negative feedback about my creative work?

I still find this a struggle - it's hard not to take it personally. I guess the easiest way is experience and time... I've been in the design industry over 19 years, in that time I've been faced with a lot of design rejection! 

When you're a freelancer it's a bit harder though, as most of the time you're your own creative director AND designer, with no one to bounce ideas off. 

I do find now that when a client doesn't feel aligned to a design I have put together and I'm forced back to the drawing board that I create something I'm even more proud of - so that's a bonus! 

It's the whole concept of working outside of your comfort zone - it's good for all of us sometimes! 

On the other end of the scale there are times when a client wants a design you truly feel is hideous - and in this case if I cannot convince them otherwise with my knowledge and recommendations, I simply keep them happy, and pop the files into the archives never to be witnessed again!!

How do I manage creative blocks?

Being creative 100% of the time between 9am-5pm is just not possible. I sometimes find I'm most creative once the kids are home from school and I'm 'not meant to be working' - it's a great way to put off having to cook dinner every night (procrastination!) which of course ends with eggs on toast most of the time!! 

If I'm really struggling to get creative within a particular timeframe I simply take a break. Make a cup of tea, eat some chocolate, but my best method is going for a walk around the block with my music on. This act of getting out the house, moving, breathing fresh air, seeing daylight, and listening to my favourite tunes is often all I need to re-ignite my creative mind. 

Another technique I find helpful is to just throw some loose ideas together on a page without too much thought, then come back to it a few days later. Sometimes I'll think, ‘wow that actually works, I'll develop on that’, and sometimes I'll think, ‘ok I won't follow that idea it's really bad, but now I have a better vision for this’.

Tips from other design partners

  • Carve out time to include family and life!
  • Seek to resolve the issue if there has been one, or ask why they feel that way. The key to resolving any issue is communication.
  • Remember that you’re not for everybody, and that’s not a bad thing!
  • Get outside. Turn the computer and phone off, and get off social media! 
  • Sometimes leaving it to the next day and sleeping on it works wonders too... a fresh head will often have fresh ideas.