How Will You Tackle the Challenges of This Year?

greek statue with neon background in pink and blue

Good afternoon. How are you doing? No, really. How are you holding up? I can tell you without hesitation that I am not 100% either. It's been quite challenging for everyone. I am sure that you can think of many moments in your life where you feel pretty down or worn out. You might feel like there is no point in trying anymore because the odds are against you with everything you need to do.

I took a 3 to 4 week break from doing anything creative because my mind needed a proper recharge. So today I wish to talk about how we can help each other, and how I could help you help yourself. There will be a holistic heap of helping here. Lots of H-words!

What challenges are we facing?

You know you need to take time for yourself. And as most of you are probably doing, working all the time or being kept busy will eventually wear you down. So what can we do to overcome the drag? With the onslaught of news, social media, and the general busyness of life, it can be hard to stay on top of your thoughts and emotions. There's a lot going on, and sometimes you just feel like you're in over your head. That's why I feel it's a good idea to star the year off with how we can help each other overcome such obstacles. Let's do it in 3 parts, okay?

Step 1: Identify the challenges.

First of all, it's important to identify the things that frustrate you the most. Are you really bothered by something specific? Or is it just general stress? Is it school? Your workplace? The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? Or maybe it's just simply getting up in the morning?

Next, ask yourself: why do I care about this? What am I hoping to achieve by fixing this problem? Once you figure out what's making you feel down, then it's time to start thinking about solutions. Consider making a list of all of these pain points so you can prepare to tackle each of these issues with a more digestible set of solutions.

Step 2: Motivations and Plans.

Now it is time to find ways to motivate yourself. Motivation is not something that comes naturally to us, it has to be earned and maintained. If we don't take care of it, it will disappear and leave us feeling hopeless and miserable. It's a hard metaphoric whirlpool to get out of if you get stuck. So now we need to find what can pick us up when we're down. Maybe that means making a list of personal goals that you wish to accomplish, or talking with friends about how they feel about their own problems at hand. How are your friends handling their personal, emotional or workplace problems? Make a list of what others do to mitigate sources of negative stress.

Also add activities to your own list that you enjoy doing in your past time. You'll want to weave them together between your weekly activities. Maybe that means putting this list on your phone or any note taking application, so you can remind yourself of why the problem matters so much and why a cooldown or session to relax or have fun is important to have right after that big task or need. Consider ranking them by level of importance or how stressful they are on a scale of 1 to 3.

My favorite activities personally involve listening to lots of music and having at least 2 helpings of comedic entertainment each week, be it a movie, TV show or comedy podcast. I also enjoy sketching on my phone or tablet and reading technology news. As ironic as it is with loving Vaporwave, I could be considered a technophile and futurist. So I like keeping up with future technology and science news. It doesn't even need to be related to your work or play life. Other common goals or aspirations include getting into shape and improving relationships with family members or friends. So, what do you like? What do you want to do? Jot them down!

Step 3: Plan a new Work-Play flow.

Once you have an idea of what might be causing your frustration and also a basic understanding what helps you unwind and have a good time when you're free, you can organize your digital life in a way that makes sense for you. Remember to find activities that will help you stay motivated throughout the week; it should feel good completing the goal, task, exercise or activity.

There are a number of ways to do this. It could mean using apps like calendar, notes or reminders on your smartphone— or maybe using digital tools like Evernote, writing in a digital diary, or anything similar. I personally organize nearly everything on my smartphone, which syncs to my desktop anyway. Calendars certainly help me stay sane, too.

Digital painting and drawing on tablets like iPad is one of the most exciting fields in the creative industries today. Given its popularity and easy accessibility, it is no surprise that there are more and more people choosing to pursue a career as a digital artist. (It's partly what drove me to make this website by myself!)

Conclusion: Don't give up!

Even slight changes in your environment can help you recognize and reduce stress. And if you slip up, don’t worry about it. We all have setbacks. Just get back on track and be more mindful of your stressors next time around. The important thing is to be proactive and ambitious.

 If you found a plan that works out for you, or if you started doing something new and fun as a result of changing up your work-play flow, let me know with hashtag #VHHess since I love hearing from you guys. Here's to a better year. 2022, here we come!