Take care of yourself designers.

Work-life-balance is more than a cliché.

The pressure to perform at peak performance day-in and day-out can be a very fun experience. Working late hours, making breakthroughs, shipping products on time is what you imagine life to be like when you finally make it as an UI/UX designer.

These were the exact thoughts I had when I was a young designer going through college. Day dreaming about how much fun it would be to work in an environment where you are challenged on a daily basis to solve communication problems through design. Designers are taught to brace themselves for the stressful environment we will be put into. Often I would listen to these words with a youthful pride, thinking stress wouldn’t have any power over me.

I worked the long hours I always wanted, shipped my products on time and often bent over backwards for my clients and the clients of the company I worked for. I loved every minute of it. But like most designers I thought I could perform this way forever without taking any breaks. I was wrong, I couldn’t.

Unfortunately after working this way for only 6 years I have been diagnosed with a stress related disease that won’t be going away. Now it isn’t a terminal disease and is more annoying than it is life altering. However I believe I’ve gotten lucky. There are much worse stress related issues that could have arisen before I learned the importance of a term I thought was silly. Work-life-balance is something we in the tech/startup world have heard for a few years now, however it wasn’t something I ever really gave much thought. Like in most things, we learn after the results have already happened.

Despite this, I fully recommend working late hours and going the extra mile for your clients. Work very hard to reach your goals and don’t let others trample on your dreams. Even so, don’t do it at the expense of your own health.

Don’t fall into the same trap I did. Don’t let yourself feel guilty for enjoying yourself outside of work. It is totally ok to enjoy a hobby, spend time with love ones and binge watch a tv show. We need to relax and de-stress sometimes. The human immune system believe it or not doesn’t perform well under stress. If you are anything like me, you put lots of pressure on yourself to be the best you can be. You believe that constant work is the recipe for success. While this may be true, if your health is too poor to enjoy the fruits of your labor what is the point?

Allow yourself some time today, whether an hour or a full day to relax. Watch something that makes you happy, call a friend or take a walk. As we both know in our line of work our job is never fully done. So why not take a moment to celebrate your own life today and relax before your own health may force you? Enjoy the ride and take nothing for granted.