It's always darkest before the dawn

We’ve teamed up with The Design Conference to give Youngbloods discounted access to 3 days of creative conversation and masterclasses in person or online. We know the past few months have been difficult to find inspiration, drive and ambition in what felt like groundhog day. We hope this partnership will bring you a little bit of sunshine and to refill your cup with all things creative.

Matthew Haynes, Head of Experience at TDC, recently shared with us his learning on what it took…….

I've started to write this article many times over. I then got to the end, proofed it, ruined my intro and are now writing another. FML.

I've been thinking about my event, The Design Conference (TDC). I've been thinking about what it means to forge ahead in the face of great adversity. Am I crazy, stupid or both? Perhaps a little bit of 'crazy' goes a long way in this day and age. When it's all said and done, what's the difference? I come to learn there is a massive difference.

Perhaps I should start by introducing myself? My name is Matt (Haynes). I've been a graphic designer for 12+ years and running TDC for the majority of that. My journey has taught me a great deal about myself, testing my fortitude on an annual basis since 2011. Before I continue, I wanted to acknowledge you and your time and thank you for continuing through this article. Instead of pumping the hype on TDC, I've opted to share something more personal; this is what TDC is all about.

Throughout my career, I've experienced the very best and worst of our industry and humanity. If I were 100% honest, I'd have to confess that I sometimes questioned if the life lessons are worth all the pain. When you find yourself squinting inches from your phone, reading work emails at half-past a sparrows fart, it hardly feels so.

A few years back, I found myself drowning in a sea of expectations. One night I dreamt that a dark spirit entered my room, floated across the floor and bit me on the hand. I promptly woke, realising I was unable to move. Later the next day, I discovered that I had experienced a type of anxiety attack. It was one hell of a wake-up call.

I'm sharing this with you because last night, you or one of your colleagues would have experienced the same thing, and I wanted to share my strategies for quieting the mind.

You are worthy, capable and deserving.

Remind yourself every morning when you look at yourself in the mirror. You are uniquely beautiful, and people will respect you as much as your respect yourself. I believe this to be a universal truth.

Below are the steps I've taken to control my mind and, therefore, my actions and future. When you're in the doldrums, I encourage you to continue your self-care routine thoroughly. In doing so, you'll maximise your ability to navigate your life, manifesting clarity of thought and purpose.

A) Get 6-8 hours of sleep.
If you're struggling to attain unaided sleep, consider a new pillow and, if possible, a new bed. The human body regenerates while we sleep. You'll look younger, feel better and think more clearly. I find listening to a strom on the Calm App helps on those tough nights. There is something about the rumble of thunder that brings of the Z's.

B) Entry Level Meditation
I liken meditation to cleaning the plaque off your brain. You wouldn't go to a big meeting without cleaning your teeth. The same goes for your brain. By meditating, you get to file your thoughts, creating clarity of mind and soul. Learn to speak to yourself with kindness. The benefits are endless.

C) Read (or listen) to books.
Above I shared my battles with anxiety. Without a reference point to parallel, it's hard to imagine the purpose of such complicated feelings and moments in life. Imagine, however, if you could parallel your life to that of Santiago, the protagonists from Paulo Coelho book: The Alchemist. This book teaches many lessons but none more important than believing in yourself, honing your intuition and learning from your mistakes. Life is a massive adventure leading towards a buried treasure. Have you taken the time to manifest your hidden treasure? I recommend doing so.

D) Exercise
There is nothing like being fit. Throw in a hair cut and you might conquer the world in a weekend. OK, that's a bit cheeky. I bet your hair is already en pointe. I'm bald, so I don't think it even matters. I digress. Anyways, back in 2018, I joined a boxing gym. Not only did I get to meet a tonne of new people, but I also got to share conversations that had absolutely nothing to do with work. One part physically fit, one part mentally fit, now that's a recipe for success.

E) You are what you eat
Don't let your workload prevent you from eating well. Slow cooked meals and curries are your best friend, especially now that we're coming into winter. Get into that organic veg, make a few soups and eat them at work or on the train. It's good for the waistline and the budget.

F) Intermittent fasting
Did you know that eating before bed is a recipe for poor sleep? When I am really on top of my game, I try to do all my eating within a ten-hour window. From healthier brain activity to deeper sleep, intermittent fasting does wonders for your mind, body and soul.

F) Celebrate
You earned it, right? You put your best foot forward, over-delivered, and everyone benefited. It's time for a small degustation with paired wine. Maybe I got a little carried away. It all depends on how big the victory is. Just be sure to give yourself a healthy pat on the back. You are a champion.

G) See a therapist
Perhaps your obligations at work and at home are too much. It's OK to feel it and share how you feel. I saw a therapist three times since COVID kicked off, each about a month apart. I achieved new perspectives while reclaiming parts of my life that have previously been missing—speaking about the darkest shit in my life set me free. I encourage you to do the same. Just because you've got broad shoulders, it doesn't mean you have to carry excess baggage.

G) Mental-Health Day
Sometimes we run ourselves out of steam. I've found a swim in the ocean, even in the middle of winter, can make a world of difference. Alternatively, I have also bathed in the bird song of a natural forest. We all want to be at our best. Sometimes separation from work is all that it takes. Between kids, sports, friends and chores, the weekend doesn’t always cut it.

So here it is.

I curate TDC with men and women who are brave enough to contribute something of significance. Every year she matures in content, context and substance, sharing many vital lessons. In 2021 she reminds us, it's always darkest before the dawn.

Cop a new sunrise at TDC.

Where: Brisbane Powerhouse
When: June 16-18

Book Now
Save 20% off Passes
Save 40% off Streaming