“With over a decade of experience working with WordPress and nearly 25 years of working for myself, I have a good understanding of what it takes to maintain a healthy mindset in business. I don’t have all the answers, but I do have passion. I created WP&UP from my own need for more significant mental well-being support.”
Dan Maby, CEO and Trustee WP&UP.
Solo-working, being part of a distributed team, running your own business, freelancing — the WordPress community is made up of hundreds of thousands of people working in these environments. It can be isolating, stressful, and a route that can lead to mental ill-health if we don’t protect ourselves.
Mental health. It’s a difficult topic. For some, it’s a topic that must be discussed. For some, it’s still a taboo subject.
WP&UP (Big Orange Heart) exists to support you
WP&UP, now Big Orange Heart, is a registered non-profit that was born out of the challenges Dan Maby, our founder, was experiencing while building and running his own WordPress-focused business. His vision was for a charity that exists to support you, the WordPress community.
The mission: to support and promote positive mental health within the WordPress community. GoWP hosted this webinar on mental well-being and agency life.
There are many ways in which mental ill-health and negative well-being can manifest in a person’s life. Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), self-harm, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts, psychosis, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), hypomania and mania are just some of the challenges a mentally unwell person can face.
The WP&UP team delivers support to the community through companionship, mentorship and supervised self-help. If you are struggling or feel you would like to further investigate the emotions you are dealing with then you can reach out to the team at https://wpandup.org/support
It’s OK to question yourself
If you’re feeling low, find yourself getting increasingly angry, not sleeping, intentionally isolating yourself or not feeling like you can do this anymore. Then it’s OK to question yourself. Taking time to step back from what you’re doing and ask yourself if you know why you have these feelings, is a positive step forward.
Allow yourself the time to ask and answer difficult questions honestly. There is nothing wrong with time spent self-evaluating.
As an industry, we can spend a lot of time in our heads, not engaging with other humans on a personal, face-to-face level. Yes, the world is more connected. Yes, we can build international teams and work with incredible people across the globe, but this can also be very isolating.
The connected world has changed the work environment, and we need to ensure we have adapted to it.
It’s not all bad, though. We’re starting to recognize the challenges the distributed work model brings. For some, it offers the opportunity to be more open about their well-being needs, simply because they are distributed. It can be easier to open up via a digital means, whether that be social media, a team Slack or other platforms. The medium can offer a level of detachment and allow people to feel they are in a safe place when writing.
Be kind to yourself
Take the time you need, be kind to yourself. In a world of constant growth, we often feel we need to be on all the time. This is not the case. Time out to allow you to rest and recover is healthy.
In recent years the WordPress community has become more open about the topic of mental well-being. We’ve seen a steady increase in the number of people willing to speak openly about their journeys. We’ve seen and heard talks at WordCamps, local meetups, and webinars that have covered a wide variety of well-being topics.
This increased acceptance of the topic is a positive move in the right direction. Sharing personal journeys in a safe, non-judgmental environment, will hopefully encourage others to reflect and be a bit more kind to themselves.
You are stronger than you think
If you have chosen to run your own business, build a team, or step out as a freelancer, you may recognize feelings of worry, concern, and dread around finances. Or you might be continually thinking about where the next client is coming from. You may even be struggling with imposter syndrome, causing you to not know where to turn. Telling yourself lies, such as “I should already know this…”.
Take a moment to reflect on your decisions; look at the journey you have been on. Often we face challenges, that at the time we are dealing with them, we feel like we can no longer cope. But somehow we do.
You are stronger than you think. Permit yourself to be kind to yourself. Don’t continually beat yourself up emotionally.
Allow others in
The idea of coping with the emotions around mental ill-health can be an uphill challenge. You don’t need to do it alone, allow others in.
Seek a trusted individual that you can speak openly with in a conversation. If you don’t have that person in your life, then reach out to WP&UP. A good place to start is to join our Slack community. Every communication is handled with complete confidence. The team is made up of people that can empathize with the challenges we can face on a day-to-day basis.
Having a safe place to be able to speak about our feelings is so important to us all. The opportunity to be able to talk with someone, who can empathize with the reasons for your negative emotions, this is something that WP&UP is in a unique position to be able to offer the WordPress community.
There are times when we feel like giving up. For some, giving up can have far-reaching consequences. For some, giving up can mean taking their own life.
WP&UP has supported individuals that have found themselves at this edge. Found themselves asking if giving up is the only option.
Through October WP&UP is running a campaign called #NeverGiveUP.
It was born out of the challenges faced with delivering a global mental health support network. Almost everyone can face challenges; almost everyone can get to the point of saying I need to give up.
We want to ask the question: Should you give up?
Sometimes moving on is the right thing. Sometimes we need to make sure we change direction and adapt as life evolves. A change isn’t necessarily giving up though.
There are times, of course, that giving up isn’t the right option. For WP&UP, this is one of those times.
To date, the registered non-profit has delivered over 7,500 hours of support to community members. The team has run more than 115 in-person events, with more than 6,300 attendees registering. With over 4,000 people across their community, WP&UP has a critical mission.
The team has only just started, and there is a lot more work to be done. Can you please join them this month and support them with a financial contribution?
What’s to come
As the team continues to deliver support to our community, they are looking to the future. They are asking what’s to come.
It’s an exciting time. WP&UP recently announced a massive project that will see a team of cyclists undertaking the #HeadToWCEU challenge. It’s a 3,000 km bike ride, across six countries, over thirty days. The team will set off from The Estrel in Berlin, Germany, the WCEU venue in 2019 to the Super Bock Arena, Porto, Portugal, arriving at WordCamp Europe 2020.
The project fits with WP&UP’s mission and intends to raise awareness of the need for both positive physical and mental health within our community. Be sure to head to https://headto.org to learn more about the project; you could even get on a bike and join the team!
Please help ensure it can continue
The WP&UP project is unique and an important one within our space. It does need the support of our community to survive, though. Please help ensure it can continue to support our colleagues and friends by donating today.