Oprah Winfrey, Catherine Zeta Jones and Gwyneth Paltrow have spoken openly about their struggle with depression, and perhaps one of the reasons they could hold onto what they were whilst in the unforgiving glare of the media spotlight, may well have been the strength of their personal brand. Other celebrities such as Stephen Fry and David Walliams have even made their experiences with depression part of their brand.
Whilst “personal branding” may sound like a marketing tool designed to help your career, it can also be an anchor to help get you through a time of low mood or severe stress, says Lisa Orban, psychologist and personal branding consultant of www.goldennotebook.co.uk. “It’s at times like these, when you’re often in danger of losing your sense of self, that revisiting your personal branding can help you navigate your way.”
Knowing your own personal brand provides you with a number of tools including:
When depressed or down it’s easy to let only negative thoughts and criticisms make it through your filters, but looking back at your intrinsic personal strengths will remind you of the things you really are good at. These haven’t gone away. You may be currently looking at them through murky glasses, but it can help to know that when those glasses do come off, your strengths are still there. Try drawing on these strengths as best you can while feeling down.
Reminding yourself of your values such as family, social responsibility or fitness, will point you towards those things that will make you feel more “you” and help you take care of yourself. Whilst you may have to put some on hold for a while (such as getting into Triathlon level fitness) living by your values day to day can help provide a sense of direction during the dark days, and may even provide comfort.
It is not uncommon to feel detached or even lost when depressed. Remembering what gave you a sense of purpose and trying to reengage with it where you can may help. Even if you’re not up to full steam ahead, still trying to do something that supports your purpose will keep you working towards your goals, as well as help boost self esteem.
When we are going through a difficult time it’s easy to let ourselves go, but revisiting your outer branding will remind yourself what actually suits you and is appropriate for what you want to be doing with your life. Everyone tends to feel better when they dress up a little, or dress in a way that suits them, and this tiny detail can make a massive difference not only to how you feel, but also how others around you treat you which again has a knock on effect on your own state of mind.
Looking at what your role models have been through and how they have coped with tough situations can be very inspiring. If you have an inspiration in the public eye, do a little research to see if you can learn about their ways of dealing with difficulties. Celebrities such as David Walliams, and Brooke Shields, for example, have written memoirs that talk about their depression and how they coped with it. By looking to inspirations, you may find something you admire in their brand that you can embrace for yourself.
Some additional words of advice…
Lisa suggests that this is a time to be patient and kind to yourself. “Have realistic expectations. Thinking you can move from being permanently glued to the sofa to throwing yourself back into work 110% is asking a lot of yourself. The best goal is to spend time looking after yourself so you can start feeling back to normal. Look at getting the proper treatment and support you need, and don’t think of depression as a sign of weakness. We don’t judge ourselves for getting the flu, or try and shake ourselves out of it; we look after ourselves and scale down what we can do until we feel better. I also advise that you don’t agree to major life changes or decisions during this time: no big changes in career for instance. Keep those for when you’re feeling well and on top of things again. ”