“How to be mindful.” With Beau Henderson & Mitzi Wilson

I’m sure any burgeoning business owner has experienced the comparison despair while scrolling through social media — it’s not healthy. Even now, I have to be mindful of this. It’s so easy to get caught up in the success of others and how that can make you feel like you’ve fallen behind. Accepting that it’s […]

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I’m sure any burgeoning business owner has experienced the comparison despair while scrolling through social media — it’s not healthy. Even now, I have to be mindful of this. It’s so easy to get caught up in the success of others and how that can make you feel like you’ve fallen behind. Accepting that it’s part of the journey and knowing your time will come with persistence and consistency is a great coping mechanism.

As a part of my series about the “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Optimize Their Mental Wellness” I had the pleasure of interviewing Mitzi Wilson, founder of Martini Marketing, a Brisbane-based boutique marketing agency. With over 10 years’ experience working in social media for some of Australia’s biggest travel brands, Mitzi provides social marketing and content support for fun, flashy and female-focused brands.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Mitzi! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

I’ve always been obsessed with advertising. When I was little, I used to follow my mum around our local shops with a magazine practically glued to my face!

I knew I wanted to create with words and so when I got my first entry-level job at an online travel agency after university, I volunteered to write holiday itineraries for the in-house Content Manager to gain experience. Shortly after, I was offered a digital copywriting role, which led to a social specialist role. This was when Facebook really started to strangle brand reach, forcing us to outsmart the algorithm and make our creative work fight hard to be seen. Five years later, I was offered the opportunity to lead a talented team of content creators for a global brand in the Flight Centre Travel Group based in London; a dream job and one that really cemented my managerial experience.

After two years of being on-call for 24 hours a day in the social space, I was absolutely shattered. That’s when I made the promise to myself that I would never work that hard again for someone else. So after a year again in-house getting my business bearings back in Brisbane, I launched Martini Marketing with the aim to never work myself into an anxious mess again. I can honestly say it’s the best decision I’ve made!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

In between travels around Europe, I accepted an interview for a remote contract role that required me to return to London temporarily. I was on a break in Berlin at the time and arranged to fly back, only to be stopped at the UK border with visa issues and detained for 17 hours in what I can only describe as airport jail. Two-way mirrors, one phone call, even mug shots! I was escorted by security back to Berlin and lived in exile for three months, my visa attempts futile — let’s just say I had to turn down that job!

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

I am one of those people who are all or nothing. If I like a song? I end up killing it with repetition. I treated my dream job in London with the same passion. My biggest mistake here was getting so caught up in work it consumed my entire life, eating into my relationship, and blurring my professional and personal experiences online.

From ‘liking’ posts as my personal profile to accidentally tweeting something meant for my personal followers on the brand account — those things make me cringe, but I can definitely laugh about them now.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’ve been lucky enough to work with some really inspirational women, but it’s my mum who’s taught me to always seize opportunities when they come along. With her as my cheerleader (and current accountant!) she encourages me to take risks because of the fleeting nature of time. I remember her encouraging me to jump on the Social and Content Lead position in London, even though I only had six weeks to pack up my life!

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

To invest in deliberate career breaks, not just regular ones during the day, but those as long as six months every few years. And to find employers who encourage that. When I was 28, I convinced my manager at the time to allow me an eight-week break (I remember bolting from my desk once the time came to leave for the trip!) where I lived in a van and road tripped from Vancouver to LA. The headspace it granted me ensured I returned to work more productive and motivated than ever.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

Through my international career, I’ve come to find that the best workplaces are those that cultivate a culture of trust, have a strong and diverse team, provide emotional awareness training and give appropriate recognition. Leaders need to understand that they’re there to support their junior teams and strike a balance between showing empathy, motivating people and getting things done. More recently I experienced a workplace where visibility in the office was paramount to securing trust from upper management — this certainly made my content creating efforts difficult and did nothing for my overall motivation! Now, with more people working from home, Covid has completely dispelled the notion that ‘bums on seats’ equal productivity. In 2020, if there’s no trust, there’s no team.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Mental health is often looked at in binary terms; those who are healthy and those who have mental illness. The truth, however, is that mental wellness is a huge spectrum. Even those who are “mentally healthy” can still improve their mental wellness. From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to improve or optimize our mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each.

Working in social media for over ten years, I’ve had a while to perfect the art of balancing mental wellness and my job, which requires constant consumption of social media content. Here’s what I do to keep on top of my mental health online:

1. Investing in social media downtime with total disconnection (and not feeling guilty!) is paramount to survival

That means switching off from technology, connecting with loved ones and allowing headspace to go slow for a while. Every year, I take a mental and technology break of four days and go camping. Only at the end of the four days, once I’m recharged do I realise how much of a slave I’ve been and how unoptimised I felt before the digital detox.

2. Be relentless in your pursuit of happiness online, every damn day

When I was at the height of my rat-race anxiety, I started to dream that I was physically walking around the Facebook News Feed.That’s when I knew I’d taken things too far. Algorithms that I usually manipulate as a marketer were manipulating me, feeding me endlessly depressive content because I was responding to it. I felt so low,it was awful.

With my experience of teaching social engagement and how the news feed works to brands, I had to reverse-engineer the way I consumed content to improve my mental health. And it worked. By consistently engaging with positive content instead of negatively triggering content, I was able to transform what was served to me, curating a feed that was uplifting instead of toxic and cumbersome. Being aware of how feeds can react to the content you’re engaging with will impact your overall mental health.

Other tactics you can use daily include:

  • Mute depressing accounts
  • Monitor your screen time
  • Temporarily unfollow news accounts or find news sources that are balanced

3. Understand that comparison is the thief of joy (especially on social media)

Social media is a highlight reel. You don’t see the failure or the stress — only the cherry-picked edited photos, which made the cut of a possible 3000 that were taken. Even in entrepreneur-land, the comparison and toxicity of hustle culture is rife. Once you accept this, you can take control of your surroundings and get in the right mindset by using the tactics above.

4. Find communities of like-minded people and accept their help

Social media can be a great place to find kindred spirits and lean into their support. Facebook groups are a great way to make supportive connections.

5. Employ self awareness and regulation while scrolling

Social media lends itself to mindless scrolling, which is a product of procrastination and unproductivity. Being mindful of scroll-speed and monitoring your screen times can assist with this.

Much of my expertise focuses on helping people to plan for after retirement. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In addition to the ideas you mentioned earlier, are there things that one should do to optimize mental wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.

I can only speak to the impact of retirement on my parents who have always been active and keen travellers. After moving to rural Australia, they rely heavily on social media to keep in contact with friends and family. I’m sure the points I’ve raised above also apply to their mental health. Being cognisant and responsible online is paramount for any age.

How about teens and pre teens. Are there any specific new ideas you would suggest for teens and pre teens to optimize their mental wellness?

I feel it’s our responsibility to educate the younger generation of the potential impacts of being born in the digital age and spending their life online. A recent study of LGBTQ+ youth aged 12–18 by Traci Gillig, an assistant professor at Washington State University found that “social media use may foster a positive sense of self and a perception of being valued in a society or community, or it may do the opposite, which can affect adolescents’ psychological well-being.”

The study surveyed youth before and after attending a social media-free summer leadership camp and by the end of the camp, it was found that depressive symptoms lowered by about half. This reinforces how beneficial taking deliberate breaks from social media can be and how important it is to communicate this information. Committing to creating feeds that are positive, real and honest when it comes to how to look after yourself on social media is just one way we can do this.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

Reading Lisa Messenger’s latest book ‘Work from Wherever’ made me feel as if she had crawled into my mind and summarised everything inside. As I’m at the start of my entrepreneurial journey, the book had an incredible impact on me. Empowering anyone to own their career freedom, ‘Work from Wherever’ really drives home that flexibility and ambition really can marry together. This hugely resonates with me and my drive to reject hustle culture as I continue on my business journey.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

It would have to be glamorizing the anti-hustle and proving that to be successful, you don’t have to work yourself raw. This movement would prove we could have it all, without compromising our mental health and personal life. I’m passionate about this because of my unsustainable experience of going hard for two years and then spending six months recovering.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“Comparison is the thief of joy” — Theodore Roosevelt.

I’m sure any burgeoning business owner has experienced the comparison despair while scrolling through social media — it’s not healthy. Even now, I have to be mindful of this. It’s so easy to get caught up in the success of others and how that can make you feel like you’ve fallen behind. Accepting that it’s part of the journey and knowing your time will come with persistence and consistency is a great coping mechanism.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

You can find me on Instagram or Facebook here.

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