Self-Care Is For UX

Nurturing our own values and needs will help us understand and serve our users

Illustration: Deb Lee

This story is part of Self-Care Is for UX, a series on the personal risks of working in design.

I was 22 years old when the doctor told me I was dying and might only have the next 15 years to live.

I was told that a rare, incurable kidney disease was what had kicked me from normal kidney function to kidney failure within a matter of days. My partner at the time and I briefly wept together in the hospital room, then spent the next six days in silence watching Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows over and over…

Self-Care is for UX

If UX is all about empathy and caring about users, why don’t we care for ourselves the same way?

Illustration: Deb Lee

This story is part of Self-Care is for UX, a series on the personal risks of working in design.

As I’m writing this, I’m having “one of those days.”

I barely got any sleep, survived the work day on a steady diet of processed snacks and coffee (then attempted to alleviate guilt from the latter by drinking an annoyingly excessive amount of water), hyped myself through a flash of imposter syndrome, opted out of the healthy dinner I prepared for myself last night and ordered fast food, and I’ll probably conclude the night with a couple episodes of How to…


There are times when our work impacts us deeply — sometimes in ways we neither acknowledge nor understand.

Illustration: Deb Lee

This story is part of Self-Care is for UX, a series on the personal risks of working in design.

If you are reading this, you most likely fall into one of two categories: You’re either interested in becoming a UX professional or you already are one.

Regardless of which category you fall into, you’ve probably heard or identify with some of the following:

  • You like helping people and are fascinated with human behavior.
  • You’re curious about how people interact with each other, their experiences, and the ecosystems they live in.
  • You enjoy solving problems and learning new things.
  • Many UX…

Self-Care is for UX

A conversation about the personal risks of working in the design industry is long overdue

Photo: mikroman6/Getty Images

This story is part of Self-Care is for UX, a series on the personal risks of working in design.

“You often feel tired, not because you’ve done too much, but because you’ve done too little of what sparks a light in you.” — Unknown

In the early 1900s, some psychiatric hospitals gauged patients’ readiness to integrate back into society through a simple but peculiar test. The patient was ushered into a room with a sink, where the hospital staff would place a plug in the sink, turn on the faucet, and wait for the sink to overflow. As water bubbled…

Over the past few months I’ve had quite a few inquiries from young black women who are starting their careers in tech. They’ve been asking for advice related to working in the industry, navigating through corporate, and flourishing in the workplace.

Out of the belief that black women can learn from each other and can support each other in our professional aspirations, I reached out to black women in tech and asked them three questions:

(1) If you could go back in time to the beginning of your career in tech and give yourself a piece of advice, what would…

For Designers, Researchers, Engineers, PMs and the Like

Some of you are reading this because you are currently experiencing a horrible manager and are trying to GTFO.

Some of you are reading this because you have goals to level up in your career and want to make sure your future manager will support you.

And some of you are just looking for this affirmation: you’re not crazy, there really are issues with your manager.

Hopefully these interview questions born from my experiences with amazing managers (and some who have opportunities for growth 😉 ) and the stories I’ve heard from others will increase your discernment into whether your…

Source: Universal Pictures (Get Out, 2017)

When I first entered the UX field, I’ll admit that I eagerly drank the UX Research kool-aid, the batch filled with talks and articles about “the importance of empathy within UX,” how we are “advocates for the user,” that we need to “be aware of our biases” and that what we do leads to more “human-centered experiences.” But as time passes and disillusionment settles in, it’s time we discuss one of the glaring hypocrisies of UX Research. In doing so, we can collectively start to move in a different direction than the current trajectory of our industry: forward.

The Achilles Heel of the UX Research Industry

For an…

I can’t help but feel the subtle onset of nausea and an uncontrollable eye twitch whenever I hear the tech community mention the E-Word — yes, empathy. I fear that empathy has become a cheap cliche that we sprinkle in our resumes, conversations, portfolios and job descriptions. Yet, there is one particular field that I suspect is infected with the greatest sense of pride about understanding and practicing empathy: UX Research.

Don’t feel like reading? Watch me give a talk on this here ☝🏾🗣️🎤

Pride is one of the greatest professional hazards for the UX Researcher.

It blinds us from…

She said that it’s easier to be black than to be a woman. I have a few thoughts on that.

Dear Julie Delpy,

At the Sundance Film Festival you described how a few years ago you made a comment about the Academy being very white male and how you were torn apart by the media because of your comment.

If only you had just stopped there.

You continued:

“It’s funny — women can’t talk. I sometimes wish I were African American because people don’t bash them afterward…It’s the hardest to be a woman. Feminists is something people hate above all…

The men and women who are responsible for leading companies and organizations in promoting, acknowledging, and valuing diversity and inclusion in the workplace carry a heavy burden and responsibility. Especially in Silicon Valley.

They wake up, praying as they check their emails and social media feeds, “Dear God, please don’t let one person’s foolishness displayed in a tweet or some manifesto destroy the work we are trying to accomplish.”

They’re often away from their families, speaking and teaching, so that others have an equal chance at getting the same job as their peers.

The men and women in these roles…

Vivianne Castillo

UX Researcher. Humanity in Tech Advocate-Warrior. Founder of HmntyCntrd ( Choosing courage over comfort.

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