My Work Is My Mental Health

A couple of weeks ago I started to realize that thanks to a large pile of external stressors, my mental health has been suffering this winter. Pretty normal. Even someone who didn’t have some vulnerabilities would probably be struggling right now. But as someone who does have vulnerabilities it became quite clear to me that for the next month or until things start to feel better, my job needs to be caring for my mental health.

I’ve heard people use that phrase before, but I don’t know that it’s always clear what it means. Particularly when you have an actual, literal job, and responsibilities, what does it mean to make your mental health a priority? Why do people choose the “job” or “work” metaphor when they’re talking about mental health? For people who haven’t been through the process of managing depression or anxiety before, the whole idea can be overwhelming, so I wanted to break down my process a little bit to show others how it can be manageable.

One of the main reasons I like the job metaphor is because it gives me a clear picture of how I can successfully approach being more mentally healthy. It’s easy to just say “I want to take care of myself” or “I want to deal with my depression”, but when you approach it like a job you recognize that you have to set concrete goals, that you have to work with other people to achieve those goals, that you break your goals down into steps, and that you might have to try a variety of different techniques to achieve the results you want.

For me, it helps to have something like a “workplan” so that I can know what concrete actions I’m taking and what I hope to get from those actions. For example I’m currently trying to decrease my stress and anxiety. To break that down, I have brainstormed with my therapist things that have helped in the past (being more social, working less, doing mindfulness exercises, being more physically active) and set goals for each of them (see friends 3x a week, do 10 minutes of mindfulness a day, go climbing 3x a week etc.). In a few weeks I can see how I’m doing at those tasks and if each task is helping.

I also find that when I think of it as a job, it becomes a priority. I write it on my to do list each day (and then I have to do it), which helps me to reprioritize, as well as remember to check in regularly and see what’s working and what isn’t. For me personally, including things on my written to do lists keeps it at the forefront of my mind because I am seeing it regularly. That to me is what it means when my mental health is my job: no matter what else I’m doing, my well being is always in my brain. I’m at work? Cool, I’m also doing deep breathing regularly. Out with friends? Great! Make sure you’re also eating enough and venting when you need to. No matter what else is happening, self care is taking priority. If something isn’t serving your long term well being, stop doing it.

Of course there are times where it becomes difficult to know if it’s helping or not. For example I am stressed due to a bunch of big expenses coming up. I’m worried about money. In order to deal with that stress I have been taking on more freelance work to build up a better savings account. Of course taking on more freelance work means that I have less down time and less time with friends, more work to do, and less flexibility in my life and schedule, leaving me with higher levels of stress. Which is more important right now…the money stress or the immediate scheduling stress? For me it’s easier to think of it as a business trade off: which will earn company Olivia more Joy in the long run? Can we outsource any of this work? In this case, it helped me realize I needed to talk to my fiance and family and see if there were alternatives to Olivia just dealing with it, which it turns out there are.

The metaphor might not work for everyone, and this might not be what everyone thinks of when they say “my mental health is my job right now.” But I find that it’s an appropriate metaphor because it restructures the way I approach things, and it makes me more serious about the real amounts of work it takes to take care of myself.

Do you have a different metaphor that works when you need to prioritize mental health? What helps you kick self care into high gear?

 

My Self Care is Not Your Damn Business

I’ve been pissed off this week. Pissed off to the point of being incapable of doing my normal work and becoming so anxious and twitchy that I needed to call on some mindfulness skills that have gotten pretty rusty. I want you all to know this because I want you to know the consequences of trendy, uninformed, bullshit thinkpieces and their kin, the edgy Facebook status.

This week I just can’t seem to get away from people making commentary on others’ self care routines. Unsurprisingly, most of it hinges on “Tumblr self care,” that holy grail of joke fodder that is in large part created and consumed by teenagers and young adults. I want to make a note of that, because it’s important to realize that Tumblr is in large part young people struggling to understand how they exist responsibly in the world. It’s especially a lot of outcasts, introverts, and mentally ill folks who are young and trying to understand how to deal with the pain they feel while also maintaining relationships and contributing to the world.

So first and foremost, can we cut Tumblr a bit of slack? We all struggled with this same kind of thing when we were younger, so stop shitting all over today’s young people because they happen to be sorting it out online instead of in their basement. The world isn’t ending because young people are trying to figure things out.

But second, the messages that we are sending to these young people in response to their (honestly not that big of a deal) posts about self care are completely toxic. I want to start by giving you an idea of the types of messages that most people with mental illness hear on a regular basis. It’s incredibly common in the U.S. at least for the message “you are what you accomplish” to get ingrained at a pretty early age. Where I grew up, I was also often sent the message that we don’t talk about our feelings very much, we deal with them, and we move on. Once you commit to something you DO NOT back out of it or you’re a bad and flakey person. You don’t cause drama or act negatively, because no one wants to be around a drama queen and you’ll end up with no friends. Don’t be selfish, give more to other people than yourself, your life isn’t so bad, other people have it worse, why are you upset there’s nothing to be upset about get over it, I bet if you just exercised and ate healthy you’d feel fine, blahblahblah. No one is living their life in some sort of uncertainty about whether their friends like them flaking out or whether it feels really great to not be able to get out of bed. The messages of guilt and shame around emotions and mental illness start early and come often.

Unsurprisingly, people with mental illnesses also tend to be people with hyperactive senses of guilt and shame anyway. There are a few personality disorders out there that don’t have those as symptoms, but nearly every other mental illness includes guilt, shame, or self-hatred as some element of its symptoms. SO. Can we all please start from the understanding that there really isn’t an epidemic of depressed and anxious people parading around oblivious to the way their actions affect others, totally ok with the fact that they can’t deal with life? There MAY be the usual packs of teens and young adults who are still figuring out the ways their actions affect others, or how to find some balance in their lives, but that has to do with being 14-18, not with having a mental illness.

So with all of that history of serious guilt and stigma and internalized bias I get real pissed off when I see stuff like this:

“Seriously, nothing is worse than the writing and the ~comic strips about mental illness~ and the pandering videos which tell us that people with anxiety are these fragile butterflies who must be catered to at every turn. ‘Just take care of yourself,’ this rhetoric says. ‘Practice self-care! Take a bath! Cancel your plans! Don’t explain yourself! If your friends can’t give you space and be totally understanding, that means they’re not your friends!!! They’re toxic! GET THEM OUT OF YOUR LIFE. You have no obligation to keep around Toxic People. If you need to throw your phone into a river and spend two weeks locked in your room eating Ding Dongs, that’s what you need!! :3′”

There are approximately a billion things wrong with this paragraph, so I’m going to start with the most obvious one: this person doesn’t link to any evidence that these people or this advice exists. What I see when I go on Tumblr is a lot of people reminding each other that they’re valuable, that emotions aren’t bad, that it’s important to eat and sleep well, notes about taking your meds or exercising, and a few about the fact that it’s important to choose your friends carefully because some people will leave you feeling worse than you started. Some are little things, like goals to drink water or buy something that you particularly enjoy, or suggestions to try a coloring book or a bath. Some of them are about setting reasonable boundaries, and reminding people that they should take care of themselves IN ADDITION TO OTHER PEOPLE. And sometimes it’s just little reminders that things will be ok.

You know what I see nowhere? Ignore your friends and don’t tell them what’s up. You’re better off alone. I see the exact opposite of that. I see people trying to connect with each other. So the first issue I have is that this is responding to a problem that doesn’t exist. I also fail to see how people writing or taking a bath hurts ANYONE. The way people seem to equate “doing things for yourself” with “being selfish” is a serious problem and contributes to the ongoing struggle many people have with taking any time or resources for themselves. As you can see in many of the linked examples, people talk repeatedly about having a hard time with giving themselves time and care. That’s WHY the dialogue at the moment is so one-sided. We don’t need any more reminders that we should think of other people too. Those are already everywhere (as discussed above). So these messages exist to combat the current climate, and so don’t feel the need to pussy foot around things or talk about how you also need to take care of other people. People who only look at messages like “it’s ok to cut someone out of your life if you need to,” are ignoring all the messages that say “only bad people give up on their friends.” Do you see the fear in this article? It’s completely tinged with the terror that all the ways of dealing with mental illness are bad and wrong. We don’t need more of that. We don’t need more thinkpieces telling us that we’d better watch out or our mental illness will sneak up and make us jerks (and it will be our own fault).

Most of us have already had friends disappear on us, or been told we’re selfish and self-absorbed, or that we’re manipulative and abusive, even when we’re trying so hard to be ok. We don’t need more reminders to watch our backs, or keep from getting too selfish in our self care.

And beyond the people guilting us for just engaging in self care, I’ve seen the start of battles between people who like different types of self care. In particular, I see a lot of people who prefer more “active” or “accomplishment” type forms of self care looking down on self care that’s a little more basic. Most people with a mental illness know that they should get out of bed, take a shower, eat well, exercise, clean their apartment, call their friends, etc. That’s why there’s so much effort to validate the other kinds of self care: it’s ok to hide under the blankets sometimes. It’s ok to wear pajamas to go see your friends. It’s ok to spend a little extra on that latte if it means you’ll have the energy and emotional wherewithal to get to work today. None of this says “you should probably always do these things because they’re really productive.” It says they’re ok to do sometimes.

As someone who really does thrive on self care that is very sensory and very basic (footie pajamas, a mocha, my cat, a chewy necklace), I can guarantee that I don’t do these things to replace my basic life skills, nor do I use them to focus on myself over other people. I often end up feeling childish and incompetent. I need reminders from my friends that I’m not hurting anyone, and that there’s nothing inherently great about looking dignified. I certainly don’t need someone to tell me that I’m trite and my mental illness isn’t “real” or “gritty” enough because I use “cute” coping skills. I’ll use whatever damn well makes me feel better, even if it’s riding a unicycle while playing the kazoo. I don’t care how it looks, and the reality of mental illness is that when it hurts that bad you don’t care if you look stupid, you just need it to stop.

The hierarchy of “productive” self care over “useless” self care and the anxiety about being good to friends is not just thoroughly unhelpful in general, it also screws over people who happen to have physical disabilities or who can’t afford a gym membership and good food or people with chronic pain. It creates more stigma against people who can’t easily leave the house, or who might have days that are unexpectedly painful. There is no good reason to tell people that they should stop using coping skills that are working and that don’t hurt anyone.

Now what is true is that sometimes people with depression or anxiety do become self absorbed because their own pain overwhelms their ability to look at much else. This however, has little to do with someone’s self care routines and more to do with the actual illness: when you cannot physically get out of bed, you are generally not at your best as a friend. But the solution to this problem is to increase the number of coping skills and self care options available, not to increase the guilt and shame. The more blame we place on self-care, the more we miss that it’s actually helping improve the situation. I know that I am a better friend when I let myself cancel sometimes and show up when I will actually be a decent person to be around, when I take some time for myself so that I can listen and support my friends. I am a better person and a kinder human being when I treat my depression. That treatment includes self care, everything from the tiniest fidget to the expensive massage, and the showers and cooking and sleeping and cleaning in between.

I know that this has gotten long and ranty, but there is nothing that ruins my day faster than people saying that there are right and wrong ways for me, in my own life, to deal with my mental health, and then heaping guilt on me for not doing what they think is right. There’s a reason the dialogue around mental illness has turned to (perhaps too much) validation and love: it’s because those things work a whole lot better than shitting on someone. There is no reason to continue perpetuating stigma against mental illness under the guise of being “edgy” or “real.” Stop.

Constancy and Mental Illness

Human beings are creatures of habit. Obvious statement is obvious. But habit is important not just because it makes us feel safe and comfortable but because it means we don’t have to spend as much brain power on determining what we are going to do and how we are going to do it. Routine is like having a formula for integration instead of having to do it all by hand each time. You know what happens next.

I started a new job a couple months ago, and in that time I’ve started to build routines. I freelance at home a few days a week, and for the past two months I have been able to get about the same amount done each of those days. I haven’t had to struggle or fight myself for the motivation. This is normal for me. It’s routine.

Until last week at least. Last week I started to hit a little bump of depression. Suddenly every bit of work was like pulling teeth. I couldn’t wake up at my normal hour, could barely drag myself into the office on my days in, and fell asleep again a few hours after being awake. My habits were suddenly unsustainable. Things that were average to me became impossible.

Welcome to mental illness.

The inability to rely on certain things as normal, average, or constant is one of the more draining elements of mental illness, and it makes everyday functioning incredibly difficult. Not only is trying to maintain any sort of normal life while struggling with serious highs and lows really hard, but it also comes with the extra emotional tax of assessing where you are on each given day and then trying to understand how much you reasonably can get done as well as trying to psychically tell how you’ll feel tomorrow or the rest of the week.

It also adds an intense amount of guilt onto any day that already feels bad. When you have a down day in which you can’t force your brain to focus, you have no energy, your emotions are all over the place, or your anxiety is spiking, it doesn’t help that you’re also acutely aware of the fact that you’re not keeping up on all your obligations, or that you can barely make it through the bare minimum of tasks to get through the day.

As I’m trying to move further towards something like recovery and healthiness, this is one of the biggest struggles for me. When every day was awful, it was easy to rely on the knowledge that I would have to drag myself through the day. The days in which everything is a struggle are the ones in which it’s hardest to be gentle with myself, to remember that I won’t be stuck feeling like this forever, to know that not all of this needs to get done right now.

I forget sometimes that it’s normal to take a day off. I forget that it’s normal to have unproductive days, or days when you just want to put your feet up. I forget that I’ll be better off tomorrow if I listen when my body says it can’t keep up today. I suppose this is a good time to remind myself that self care is an accomplishment, something I work on and work on hard. It is not a cop out or a reason to be lazy. It is part of recognizing that having depression and anxiety mean there is no consistent baseline to my emotions and abilities, that some days I just can’t and some days I’m super kickass. Acceptance is an ok response.

Featured pic is my self care.

 

The Reality of Chronic Depression

I’ve known for quite a while now that I have chronic depression. I first struggled with it when I was 14 or 15 and got hit with my first major bout at 17. What followed was a good five years of nearly constant depression, with some slight reprieve here or there. Depression runs in my family, as do a variety of other colorful diagnoses, making it more likely that my depression has genetic components and thus will not change with changes in circumstances. I’m not sure what other signals I would need to illustrate that mental illness will probably be a part of my life forever, but if I did then a diagnosis of a personality disorder and an eating disorder (both widely known to be stubborn creatures that never really go away) would do it.

But despite knowing all of these things for years, I’ve always had some measure of hope that things could get better. I mean they had to get better. There was no way I could continue living if they stayed the same. Some day my brain would switch back over into “not utterly unhinged” territory and I’d be able to make it through days at a time without bursting out into tears or struggling to breathe due to anxiety. There was another version of myself that I imagined, maybe not one who was ebullient and joyous and energetic, but one who was functional and content. That version was waiting for me if I chose to accept her.

This past summer, I finally knew what it was like to be her, at least for a while. Getting relief from depression is one of the most amazing feelings I’ve ever had. You get tiny realizations here and there: it’s been weeks since I last cried. I’ve laughed every day this week. I ate three meals yesterday and didn’t notice until now. Each one is a victory, a delight. I’d find myself giggling in joy over my life for no reason.

Last night I got hit with an attack of the jerkbrain. It’s been dark and cold lately, something that’s always hard for me. The day started out well enough, but somewhere in mid afternoon the undercurrent of worry that asks whether I’ve done enough today to be worthy of living started to swell. What if my life is not enough? What if I never do anything worthwhile? What if no one actually likes me? Behind the questions is simple despair. There are no words to make sense of it, and it comes from nowhere. It just hovers over me and trickles in when I have spare moments. Sometimes it brings its friend, panic, which takes up residence in the lowest pit of my stomach and bubbles up and over into my heart, just to keep me on my toes.

I know how to deal with these things. I talked to my boyfriend, I left the house, I gave myself permission to go out for dinner instead of cooking. I had some ice cream and played Dungeons and Dragons with my friends. I systematically listed all the things I needed to get done in the next week and ticked off all of the ones I had already completed, making it abundantly clear that I was not behind on anything. The feelings receded and today I feel average.

What I don’t know how to deal with, today, in the aftermath of that little depressive episode, is the reality of chronic depression. I knew before that it existed, but it has only been with the contrast of feeling good that I’ve internalized I am never safe from my own mind. No matter how much work I have done or will do, no matter how many wonderful people I have in my life, no matter how many things I accomplish or if I find my dream job, there will still be days or weeks or months during which everything will be a struggle.

On some level I always knew this, but feeling it is different. The randomness of a depressive attack is what hurts the most. It makes me feel childlike, dependent, incompetent. It reminds me that my mind isn’t really my own. It says that recovery is always temporary. This is terrifying. There is nothing more scary to me than the possibility of feeling the way that I did for the last five years. Nothing except for the sure knowledge that I will feel that way again, there is nothing I can do about it, and I don’t know when it will hit. Life is Russian Roulette.

And tied into all the fear is the inability to explain it to the people around me. Sure, they get it, but when they ask what’s wrong and all I can say is “I’m worthless”, they’re left trying to help an unhelpable situation. I’m afraid to inflict myself on other people.

I’m reminding myself today that the people who love me see something in my ability to continually feel like this and continue on that is worth caring for. I’m reminding myself that chronic does not mean constant. I’m reminding myself that the episodes are smaller and shorter now, and that I get so many happy days. I’m reminding myself that when I think about my own survival, I am in awe of my own strength. I’m reminding myself that writing that sentence is hard and I did it anyway.

The reminders help. I know that chronic depression doesn’t have to define my life. But under the reminders I’m scared for the next bad night.

Self Care is Safety

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about self care lately because I’ve been trying to practice it, and as part of that I’ve been trying to pin down what are effective self care techniques for me. Soft fabrics, cats, a good glass of wine, familiar smells, books, Netflix, going for a walk in a park, not having to cook…these are all things that I use to take care of myself. And as I’ve thought about many of the things that feel like self care to me, the more I’ve realized that the essence of self care is creating a space in which I can feel safe.

A great deal of this is physical pleasures: when you are experiencing something warm, soft, or comforting, you are more likely to feel safe. But beyond that, many of the things that are self care for me involve making things familiar and understandable. Books have always been a safe space for me because they are controlled. Nature, trees, green spaces, are essentially the same no matter where you go and will always feel like childhood and playing outside. Scents are memories for me, and the moments when I can recreate the smell of home is a moment when I temporarily am at home.

These familiar things remind me of the places that I know I am taken care of, the places I don’t have to worry. A lot of people imagine that self care is about what makes you feel good, but that’s a bit too simplistic. Often it involves things that soothe or calm, but underneath what makes most of my self care successful is that it helps me to feel safe in some fashion. It makes my space my own, it distracts me from things that scare me, or it reminds me that I am allowed to be vulnerable.

This is one of the reasons why familiarity is an important part of self care. Things that are the same as places or people that I trust are the fastest way that I can feel safe. Of course human beings like routine, and things that we’re used to are more comforting than things that are new, but on a deeper level than that, for someone who has a mental illness, familiarity means the places that we trust not to hurt us. It means the places where the anxiety might turn off for a while, or where we can escape from depression. “Home” is often our safe place, and the people we are familiar with are our support system. This isn’t true for everyone: sometimes the things we see every day are oppressive, boring, or painful. But more often than not the fact that they are familiar makes them easier to deal with, and thus safer. Even more than that, our safe places are generally those that represent family or friends, things that have kept us safe in the past, or other parts of our life that are integrally part of who we are. Familiarity.

This of course makes self care more challenging if you’re in a new place or around new people, but it does offer a helpful way to reframe self care so that it might be more effective. I feel safe when I feel competent, accomplished, and cared for. These might be hard feelings to capture in a new place, but I know that when I write I feel competent and accomplished, I know that when I have a to do list I feel better when I get things done, I know that hearing from people (even from a distance) makes me feel cared for. These are not things you might immediately think of when you hear “self care”, but reframing self care from “pampering” to “meeting my emotional needs” or “safety” can elucidate new things to try. Now I’m gonna go start my novel and feel accomplished.

Selfish Altruism

I have recently become quite enamored with the idea of being selfish. No, I haven’t just lost my moral compass and decided that Imma do what I want. Quite to the contrary, I have come to the conclusion that if I want to be a good person to the people around me that I care about, the first step is to be a little bit selfish.

I spent a lot of time trying to erase myself as an entity. This leads to a lot of obsessing over one’s actions, but also to just being an ass because you refuse to speak up about what you like or dislike, put forth your opinions, or be present. I tried to be a good friend and to do nice things for people, but at the same time I refused to see myself as a real human being, which meant I didn’t give myself the ability to actually act effectively in the world. Mostly I just spent a lot of time trying to get out of other people’s way. This isn’t a particularly good way to be good to others.

Even for those who don’t go as far as I did, when you spend all your time sacrificing for others you’re likely to be a fairly unhappy individual. When you’re unhappy you’re less effective, less energetic, less kind, and less creative. Being a little bit selfish negates a lot of these problems. It’s as simple as organizing your life in such a way that you spend a fair amount of your time doing things that you enjoy or find fulfilling. They don’t have to be harmful to anyone, but it does mean accepting that you’re worth your own time and effort: thinking about yourself. Being selfish.

When you spend more time thinking about yourself and how to keep your own emotions well adjusted, you become a far more stable and content person. This gives you a stronger base to actually do things for others as opposed to running on fumes just to always say yes to others (but never actually accomplishing much). It also means that you’re less likely to react poorly when others do things you don’t like. This to me is the best thing you can do for the people around you: take care of yourself well enough that you can handle their daily ups and downs. It’s amazing how much that helps everyone.

Part of this is that when you do things for yourself you have more to give. You get rejuvenated by the things you care about, and so even if you’re spending time on yourself you still probably have more time to give to your family and friends because you’re not exhausted, miserable, or angry all the time. Let’s say you’re someone who loves dancing. It makes you feel passionate and joyful and full of life and energy. But you have a family to support and so you don’t do it and instead get a job as an accountant and hate it all the time to pay the bills for your family. Do you really think this is the better choice for your family? Do you honestly think that having more money makes up for being pissy and cranky and miserable all the time?

People who love you do actually want the things that you bring to the table. They want the joy you bring to the table when you’re dancing. You’re likely to be far better at the things you enjoy and thus will end up doing more for others with them. There’s always a balance. Having a day job might be the right choice, but incorporating the things you love into your life will make you more giving when you do have time for your family.

A final thing to consider is that when you’re being altruistic, it’s important to people that you mean it, not that you’re simply doing it out of some misguided sense of duty or martyrdom. When you have a strong sense of self identity made up of some strategic moments of selfishness, your family and friends know that when you are with them or do something for them, you truly mean it and probably enjoy it. That will likely mean more to people than just having someone they can walk all over.

Sacrifice can be highly altruistic, but not when it’s all you do. If that’s the case, then you don’t even have a self to sacrifice, it doesn’t mean the same thing, and it’s just not helpful because you have no pool of resources to give from. It seems counterintuitive, but the best ways we can contribute to community is by doing things that are actually good for us, whether that be helping others by using talents we enjoy or by taking the time for ourselves to refresh so we can behave like a decent human being.

Yeah I’m selfish. Because I have a self and that self deserves caretaking. It makes me a better person.

Values and Resolutions

New year’s resolutions are odd to me. No one ever seems to follow through on them, and they’re often forgotten within a few weeks of making them. Often they look like preening or attention-grabbing. However I do think that it’s a good idea to periodically take a good long look at your life and structure some goals or ideas to aim towards. Things have been a bit on the change-heavy side in my life lately, so this feels like a good time to assess and to try to understand why I set the goals that I do and how those goals fit into my values.

 

As I was working on writing my resolutions for this year, I really found myself struggling with what I felt were the resolutions I “should” be writing. It’s been obvious to me for a while that many times resolutions are a way for people to beat up on themselves about not doing enough, but in this case it felt more like a conflict of what my values were: did I really want to resolve to work harder to overcome my eating disorder this year, or did I want to resolve to lose some weight this year? This, in my mind is the important thing about resolutions: they force you to take stock of your values and then ask you how you can actually live out those values in concrete ways. I’ve had a very hard time with values, with identifying my own values, with truly committing to any set of values, for a long time, so this year for my resolutions I’m going to start each resolution with a value that I am choosing to commit to this year.

 

  1. Family: run a 5k with my dad for his birthday.
  2. Social justice and animal welfare: be better about my vegetarianism. No meat that is not produced ethically. Do not seek out meat.
  3. Intelligence/knowledge/curiosity: read more. This means taking some time out of each day to read a real book, not just blogs.
  4. Purpose and commitment: make a decision about what I’m going to do after I finish AmeriCorps. Commit fully to it. Actively work not to feel guilty or to continue revisiting the options I did not choose.
  5. Community/friends: be more social. Get to know more people. Actively reach out to the friends I do have.
  6. Self-reflection and creation: finish a draft of my book.
  7. Work, self-improvement: learn to accept criticisms without tailspinning emotionally. Work to incorporate criticisms actively into work.
  8. Life (yes life is a value that I have to commit to and it’s one I find difficult): find things that make me happy and excited. Engage in them often.
  9. Humility: spend some real time thinking about what it actually means to be humble in a positive way. Rethink the idea that self-flagellation is humility.
  10. Self-care: eat more cake. Both metaphorically and literally.