Designing For Stress & Anxiety

I came across a poster with tips on designing for users with stress and anxiety a couple of years ago (see the full poster below and download here). It struck me as a useful reminder to include mental health in our thinking about accessibility. Now, in the time of COVID-19, we are experiencing record levels of anxiety. This is coupled with increased Internet usage, especially of social networks. So, I am trying to make my design more accessible and write a bit bout Social Media and Stress.

designing with stress in mind

In the UK we entered the second official lockdown last week. Like many, I felt a rising sense of dread about this new set of restrictions. My sleep was disrupted and I constantly worried about further isolation from friends and family. I had difficulty staying focused on anything. Yet it seemed important to stay connected, to keep in touch with people somehow.

This is where social networking apps should augment our lives. They are all about connection; they let us express and share, make, and keep friendships. But as recent documentary, The Social Dilemma explains, social apps are designed to be addictive.

These products hook us with the promise of a like, a message or a new follower, which our brains treat as a reward. We are notified of every interaction and encouraged to keep checking for more, scrolling the news feed that never ends. It’s easy to share, but difficult to delete.

Good design allows you to stay connected. Good design also allows you to withdraw easily.

It is now highly important to keep an eye on your social media usage as we are in Lock Down 2.0. Maybe temporarily pause social media activity, if it is overwhelming.

designing for users with accessibility issues in yorkshire

So, it is acknowledged that Design can cause stress and anxiety – good design does not set boundaries on your time. I try and incorporate that in to what I do. In the header I linked to a good resource from the Home Office. Check it out – it could be worth your while.

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