From the outside, being a Creator may seem like a coveted career. While it can be, for many, it is riddled with internal strife. Whether it’s cyberbullying, an overbearing content schedule, or being overly exposed online, Creators face challenges seen and unseen, spoken and unheard. In a rapidly expanding, largely unregulated space, Creators can feel unsupported when navigating social media professionally and trying to maintain equanimity. With 80% of Creators citing burnout and many more feeling ostracized in their struggle, the mere act of posting can overwhelm those who have risen to the top. Feeling down is part of the human experience, but that does not mean Creators must tolerate it daily. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month and to honor the mental wellness of Creators, here are ten tools to pack in your Creator toolkit anywhere you are, anytime you need them.
Focus Your Focus
Mindfulness is the act of tuning into the present moment fully. When your mind entertains distressful thoughts of the past or future, you suffer. When you multitask and operate mindlessly, you are disconnected from yourself and others. Mindfulness enables you to focus your attention on the here and now by observing your surroundings, participating in an activity (big or small), and doing so without judgment. Whatever you choose to do (or are doing), do just that and that alone. Pick an activity that is effective at engaging your mind and keeping you free of distractions.
Taking a mindful approach allows you to take in an experience wholly, with curious eyes and an attentive mind. It’s about getting out of your head and into your body. It’s about connecting with yourself and your surroundings. If you’re eating a bowl of cereal, eat it mindfully. Enjoy every bite as though it were your first. Energy flows where attention goes, so feed the energy you seek to grow and discard the energy you want to throw by focusing your focus. One way to bring your attention to the present moment is by counting colors. Choose a color and look for it in your environment to help ground you. Once grounded, gain ground by moving your attention where it serves you.
Let It Flow
Inhale with intention and exhale what no longer serves you. Controlled and mindful breathing increases your oxygen level and promotes relaxation. Breathing with intention stimulates the vagus nerve and activates your parasympathetic nervous system, pulling you out of an anxiety-induced fight-or-flight response. Breathing can even trigger higher states of consciousness, but, for our purposes today, use it to de-trigger your triggers. Two techniques you can use on the move or at home are Bunny Breathing and Color Breathing.
Try Bunny Breathing by squeezing your nose and taking three quick breaths in followed by one long breath out. Try Color Breathing by picking one color that’s pleasing to you and one color that’s not so pleasing. Breathe in the color you like along with all the goodness you attach to it, and breathe out the color you dislike along with all that is distressing you in the moment. Visualize the colors blending as you inhale and exhale them. Do so until the not-so-pleasing color is released and the pleasing one remains. Breathe freely—the air is free and so are you.
Soothe the Senses
Soothe yourself by soothing all five senses—just not at once. Soothe with vision by looking at things that interest you, such as a film, a starry sky, or photography that delights your eyes. Soothe with hearing by listening to music, noticing surrounding street sounds, or playing an instrument. Soothe with smell by applying essential oils, wearing your favorite perfume, or lighting a scented candle. Soothe with taste by eating sour candy, mindfully enjoying a meal, or trying new cuisine. Soothe with touch by soaking in a bubble bath, petting your pet, or wearing your favorite hoodie. Self-soothing with your senses is a sensible thing to do when feeling sensitive.
Value Your Values
Identify your values and commit them to paper. Use this list as a reference next time you feel your emotions bubbling to the surface, begging to sway your behavior in ways that counteract your values. Acting in alignment with your values instead of your emotional impulses helps you build self-esteem and stay on track with your goals. If you cannot resist your emotional urges, then express yourself constructively: be factual about the emotions and not emotional about the facts. Alternatively, you can observe your emotions without reacting to them. It may be uncomfortable for a moment, but it will pass with acceptance and awareness of the emotional wave. This technique is called Riding the Wave and can help you tolerate emotional ebbs and flows without feeling like you’re drowning.
Flex Your Creative Muscles
Being creative does not always have to come with an audience. You can create for the sake of creating. Art differs from content creation in the sense that it pulls from your emotional body. Making art is transmutation. It involves changing your emotional state by expressing it physically. Paint the pain away, doodle drawings in the corners of notepads, or take self-portraits that embody your emotional expression. None of these need to be shared with others, but they can be if you so choose. Physicalizing your emotions helps extract them from your being no differently than tears or exercise can. Better yet, flexing your creative muscle allows you to build mastery and gain confidence in your craft.
Change the Tune
Thoughts are not always the most helpful. It can behoove you to put space between yourself and your thoughts. For example, rather than thinking “I am inadequate,” shift the thought to “I am having the thought that I am inadequate.” The addition of these three words enables you to disidentify from counterproductive thoughts. If vexing thoughts start to feel true, remember you are not your thoughts. Having the thought that you are a dinosaur does not make you a dinosaur. Just as you would skip a song you do not like on Spotify, skip those unwanted thoughts. Don’t subject yourself to music thoughts you don’t want to hear.
Will Away Willfulness
Willingness is the state of being open to positive changes. Being willful is the opposite state and can cause us to do things in the short term that do not serve us in the long run. Being willing is a form of self-love. It may be difficult to access that state at times, so here are two simple things you can do to shift your mindset when that occurs.
The first is a Half Smile, sometimes called the “Mona Lisa” smile. To practice a Half Smile, relax your jaw and turn the corners of your mouth upwards ever so slightly to reduce inner resistance. You can also do this by putting a pencil or straw between your teeth if you find it hard to sustain the motion.
The second is Willing Hands. Willing Hands is a skill you can practice anywhere. It involves turning your palms upwards. This action signals to your body that you are safe, releasing you from a state of tension or defense. You can take this a step further by sitting down, planting your feet on the ground, and placing one hand on each leg with your palms facing the sky. This invites acceptance into your body. Where there’s willingness, there’s a way.
TIPP the Scales
When your emotions feel like they’re out of your control, take control with TIPP skills. TIPP is an acronym that stands for temperature, intense exercise, paced breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation.
- Change the temperature of your body by taking a cold shower, putting an ice pack on your head, or holding a frozen orange or lemon. Introducing cold to the body, particularly the forehead, brings your body into the present by triggering the mammalian dive reflex. For extra efficiency, try holding your breath for a few seconds as you alter your body temperature.
- Reduce the intensity of your emotions with intense exercise. Performing intense exercise will help you return to baseline. Try jumping jacks, dancing, or your favorite gym routine to get back into forward motion.
- Alleviate anxiety with paced breathing. Paced breathing involves slowing down your breathing by exhaling for longer than you inhale. The ratio of inhale to exhale is 4:6. Inhale for four breaths and exhale for 6. Repeat the cycle six times per minute until you are relaxed.
- Calm the mind with progressive muscle relaxation. Progressive muscle relaxation can help deescalate your mood when in a state of crisis. Start by tensing and releasing your facial muscles. Repeat the movement with each muscle group, moving down your body.
Balancing your body will balance your mind, bringing you back to baseline.
Take Hold of Your Career
One challenge faced by countless Creators is a lack of agency in their careers. Many feel as though they are at the mercy of managers, their audience, or the algorithm—unable to operate with certainty and autonomy. A practical way to mitigate feeling powerless is to empower yourself with technology. You can regulate, organize, and monetize your work on a schedule that works for you and do so with consistency, clarity, and smart tools. One such tool is Glewee. Glewee is an influencer marketing platform for Creator by Creators and the premier tool in every Creator’s kit. You can download Glewee on the App Store or Google Play, apply to join, and take your career into your own hands (literally).