Craig Minchington’s Mental Health Awareness Series: Tip 3 – Self-Awareness

New year, same mental health struggles? Try animation director Craig Minchington‘s 3rd tip in his mindfulness series, self-awareness.

There were a whole bunch of reasons that I decided to give up drinking. Actually, some of them weren’t actually my decisions per se, they were more like ultimatums. “If you carry on living in this anxious mess, with extremely negative crutches and cycles then you’re going to have a pretty shitty life”.

However, one of the main reasons and definitely the main benefit is that I hate wasting time. I can be an extremely impatient person and waiting would flare my anxiety up to 1000. I want every minute to count. So the idea of being too hungover to be proactive, or too drunk to actually be fully present is not the way I wanted to live anymore.

I can sometimes be an intensely introverted person, mostly when referring to work and learning. I love to completely immerse myself in things, whether that be learning new design techniques, initiating personal projects or reading about how to be more productive.

Craig Minchington

This completely intensified when going freelance, maybe some of you can relate? PRODUCTIVITY IS KEY for me. To the point of it being slightly OCD. For instance, I love podcasts because I feel like I’m learning whilst working. Or I love watching a TV series rather than a movie because I feel like I’m completing things, ticking off the episodes one by one. I am a man driven by lists; I need order, I need to see the progression.

This can be great working in the creative industry. I used to always be the first in the studio and the last to leave. I used to stay up till 4am learning Cinema 4D until I fell asleep at my desk but this actually runs throughout my day to day life… I brush my teeth in the shower to save time, I eat while replying to emails, I run to and from work to get my fitness in on my commute, I would play computer games with targeted goals to tick them off. Yet, if someone knocked on the door while I was on my PS4 I would jump because I felt guilty for not doing some sort of work-based task.

If I wasn’t being productive the guilt would engross me. I became so tightly wound up by this constant anxious clock-watching. There was so much pressure that I knew something had to change. I had zero work/life balance. I did not see any value in rest. Ok, I would obviously sleep but only when passing out midway through watching a design documentary AND then my anxiety would wake me up at like 5am screaming “get up and be productive”.

Alcohol was the one thing that forced me in to relaxing and not in the way people usually relax with a drink. I was essentially self-medicating myself to force me to zone out. To not be strung so tightly. Of course, this was a catch 22 because the next day I would be twice as anxious and try to play catch up.

What I am getting at here is the importance of self-awareness and rest. I realised that the world wouldn’t fall apart if I didn’t work 14 hour days until I burned out. It became clear that rest made me feel better, function greater and think more clearly. Taking the time to take notice of my emotions, how my body was feeling and accepting that I am just a tiny part in this world has helped me realise that you can give yourself a rest. You don’t have to be so hard on yourself and numbing yourself through whatever means you choose in not the best path.

I still live by lists. I still get anxious. I still work late if I need to BUT I don’t let that dictate my life. I take time off, I spend way more time with family and friends, I read for fun, not pressure, I REST!

Self-awareness, it’s a weird bloody concept, especially for someone with no real spiritual inkling but I’m starting to get it bit by bit and it’s pretty effing cool.

Check out Craig’s previous ‘#MentalHealthAwareness: Tip 2 — Identification’ by clicking here.

Thumbnail llustration by Elmaz Ekrem.

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