Sometimes it’s hard to believe that something we love to do can cause us so much stress! Do demanding clients leave you feeling overwhelmed? Or maybe you’re tackling a tough brief that isn’t coming together as you had hoped? Do you ever feel like panicking? Learn how to deal with stress in healthy ways by following my tips to remain cool, confident and calm designer.
Practicing mindful breathing can help you become aware of when you’re feeling stressed or tense. Once you’re aware of tension in your body, take some deep breathes, and relax those areas.
Writing things you need to do down, helps get them out of your head, and gives you mental space to concentrate on your work. You can use paper or an app to write down everything you need to complete for a project, or in your life!
Don’t get into the bad habit of eating meals in front of the computer. Use them as a chance to take a break, chat to your family/loved ones, and have a bit of mental space.
Make some time to go outside and get some fresh air. It’s been scientifically proven that being in nature makes you more creative. Leave the phone at home and go for a walk. You might just have that creative breakthrough!
Break your project down into a list of mini goals you need to achieve. Give each of these a deadline and stick to it. Your deadline could even be as short as 5 minutes (e.g 5 thumbnails in 5 minutes) or a bit longer (layout all text in 1 hour). Tick off each item as you complete, and enjoy the sound of each deadline as it whooshes by.
Try working in 2 projects at once. Once you feel stuck on one, leave it, and switch over to the other for a while. Choose one project that is in a more intensive creative phase (concept development), and another that is in a more straightforward, process driven phase (e.g laying out type, preparing finished art).
Turn on the Do Not Disturb mode of your mobile phone and computer while working. Notifications can take you out of your flow state, leading to loss of concentration and increased feelings of stress. Being in flow has shown to lead to more creativity, and pleasure in your work.
Team up with a classmate or colleague as your study/work buddy. Message each other if you’re stuck on a project, need to vent, or want someone to bounce ideas off. Sometimes a second opinion can be all you need to give you a boost when you’re feeling like you “just don’t know anymore”. Perhaps you can set deadlines for each other to keep each other accountable and on track.
Aim for 7–8 hours of sleep. If you get overtired you’ll end up feeling less creative and burnt out. If you need to work late, try generate lots of ideas/concepts/work in the evening, and then get up early in the morning to evaluate your design. Science shows we’re better at making decisions in the morning, and your design always look better with fresh eyes!
Learn how fatigue affects creative minds: Make Decisions in The Morning.
Next time you feel the stress of a deadline beating down on you, practise my 9 ‘Stress Less’ tips to cope with the situation. It’s surprising how successfully managing stress can make a huge difference on our mood, creativity and productivity. Remember, the best way to avoid stress is to maintain a balanced lifestyle.