May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so I just wanted to check in with my fellow creators and ask: How are you? I’m genuinely asking how you’re holding up, and the comments are a safe space for you to answer.
In preparation for this month, I’ve been compiling a few examples from my work life that have helped me be aware of and maintain a somewhat healthy mental state. The way I find peace and happiness may be different than you, but I hope you’re finding your way too.
Find at least a few minutes every day to do something that truly invigorates you. I love my job, particularly the variety every day brings. But I’ve learned over time that I can go to bed with a smile if I spend even just a few minutes on game design every day. Often the only time I have for design is the 2 hours between dinner and bedtime on non-game nights, and I have to protect that time–it’s all too easy for other work to push into that space.
Take breaks. Studies show that we’re more open-minded after we take a break. I try to use short breaks during transitions to different tasks. For example, after I finish this blog post, I’ll take a short break to skim through yesterday’s sumo highlights. I also break for meals rather than work through them.
Choose when to consume criticism. I’ve found that if I’m in a good mood, I tend to be more open to hearing and learning from criticism. The opposite is true if I’m in a bad mood. Due to this, I try to be acutely aware of my emotional state when I’m entering new threads (sometime I can detect the overall tone from the subject line). I literally ask myself, “Is now the right time for you to read this?” If the answer is no, I’ll come back later.
Don’t compare yourself to others. One of the most self-inflicted damaging things a creator can do is compare their project or themselves to others. I’ve done this far more than I’d like to admit. When I catch myself doing it, though, I actively try to turn it around. Instead of comparing my project to the other one, I spend a little time learning from the other project and celebrating its success.