🐚 The Salty Shell: Your Personal Strategy

Published 23 days ago • 8 min read

I have written at least four different versions of this issue because there are so many ways to approach it, but whatever follows this sentence is written to you from my heart and is a stream of consciousness (vs a planned, structured, edited piece). Don’t get creeped out 😂 this one’s important, and there are still actionable takeaways and a marketing tie-in.

🧂 Salty Insights: Mental Health

May (how the hell is it May?) is Mental Health Awareness month, but as you may recall from the Awareness to Advocacy issue, awareness should go beyond “Hey, there’s this thing you should know about.”

The definition of mental health varies from person to person, it seems. It’s not just about not being happy, having a mental illness, or taking a day off – it’s inclusive of your emotions and psychological and social well-being.

Mental illnesses aren’t limited to bipolar disorder, personality disorders, and schizophrenia – the phrase we were raised to believe is harsh, rare, and alien-like encompasses depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, ADHD, eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, and substance use disorders.

Neurodiversity is about neurological variations in cognitive function and processing – it’s genetic or caused during pregnancy: ADHD, dyslexia, Tourette syndrome, sensory processing disorder, and non-verbal learning disorder. That’s right – GENETIC – so stop your judgment.

It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also highly impacts how we handle stress, relate to others, and make the right choices. It should be a concern and priority for everyone.

Thankfully, the stigma around it has lessened, and it’s become a much more approachable and widely talked about topic, but as people are openly talking about their journeys, diagnoses, and solutions, it can make others feel like shit because those things don’t make sense or work for them. Do not compare yourself to others, especially when it comes to mental health.

“We all have battles no one knows we are fighting.” We see that quote so often, especially on X, and typically when we are going through our own shit and want people to know we are going through something but don’t want to say what.

It’s pretty eye-opening to look at mental health and being professionals through the decades of our lives. Whether you’ve lived it, are living it or are going to live one of these decades soon, it’s worth digesting and thinking about:

20s – Seeking Identity & Purpose

Mental health in your 20s is all about identity and purpose with strong pressure to establish yourself and the need for a meaningful existence. From transitioning from college to a career, from independence to interdependence, self-discovery, and possibly becoming a parent. We face challenges of identity exploration, self-doubt and anxiety about the future while seeking validation from our peers and exploring new passions and interests.

As you strive to find your place in your personal and professional life with the goal of making your mark, prioritize: self-awareness, self-compassion, and authenticity. Embrace vulnerability, seek mentorship and create a healthy work-life balance.

Honestly, when I was in my 20s (that’s right, I’m not really 21) I had no idea what mental health was, it wasn’t a popular term and had I heard it then I probably would’ve thought it was about cognitive function or something to do with extreme mental illnesses. Hooray for the US being SO GOOD when it comes to mental health, care and advocacy. You can hear my sarcasm, right?

30s – Navigating Ambition and Responsibility

When I was little, I thought adults (bc 30 seemed ancient then haha) had their shit together, come to find out – we’re just trying to figure it out in our 30s and put on a front for our kids. Ambition and responsibility really collide here. Our mental health is influenced by the balancing act of our professional aspirations while juggling personal commitments and all the shit life throws at us like life, death, burnout, layoffs and everything in between.

Career development and the demands of family life coupled with society’s expectations are overwhelming, giving us imposter syndrome and burning us out. Our 30s are crucial for prioritizing self-care, boundary setting and stress management.

You have to embrace vulnerability, seek support networks, create meaningful connections, get rid of the relationships that don’t serve you. Be proactive in getting rid of the pressure to find a sense of balance.


When Geoff saw my newsletter teaser on X yesterday, he immediately said he wanted to weigh in, and I'm so happy he did. You know him as the Digital Content Manager at Skittles (and more) - here's his story and the best part is, he had no idea how I was approaching this topic (by decade):

In my 20s, I was the epitome of hustle culture. I was a solo influencer with no agency, no team, just me and my content streams and a community who supported me. While this sounds like the dream, it was anything but, looking back. I had no time to focus on myself, my health (Physical or Mental) nor my relationship or family. It got to the point, as I neared my late 20s, where I had lost contact with my dad, lost my 6 year relationship, and eventually had to give up my content work in favor of a corporate role.

We get so focused on numbers (engagements, income, etc) that we lose sight of the things that matter and how to balance these things. I started my 30s by developing cancer and battling that was honestly the catalyst to how I now balance my life in marketing vs. my real life.

It taught me, very bluntly, that life is short and very fragile. If we only keep hustling we are doomed to suffer loneliness, and find rough ways to try and fill in those gaps.

My life now consists of shutting my laptop when work hours are done, planning how to spend my money on things that truly make me feel joy or happiness, and making time for my family or friends because they matter more than an extra hour of work here and there.

Therapy has also helped a TON, and I’ve personally been going monthly for over 3 years now. The biggest thing we have to learn is how to prioritize what truly matters, know that getting help is important and not a sign of weakness, and we need to be gentle to ourselves when we do fall into bad habits.

At the end of the day, work is work and if we have ways of tuning out when we are done we can more easily mitigate the signs and symptoms of hustle culture before they take root.

I also really love meditation and journaling and highly recommend any professional use those tools, and any others, to decompress.

I can’t speak on my 40’s as I have 7 years to go, but wanted to share some of my personal experiences in case it helps someone avoid losing everything and having to rebuild like I did. For the record, I’m very close with my mom and dad now, and they have been a huge help in getting me to where I am now after the fall I went through, so the story does have a happy ending for the most part!

Geoff Immel

He's a fan of the Braves and Reds, but whatever, GO PADRES!

40s – Embracing Change and Resiliance

As professionals, we are often faced with change and reinvention. It could be new career opportunities, an entire career change, focusing on personal priorities or confronting midlife milestones. Mental health is shaped by our adaptability and resilience and having a growth mindset, just like in business, is important. You may grapple with questions of legacy, fulfillment, and work-life interaction, but prioritizing your self-worth, self-reflection, purposeful living, and holistic well-being is your priority.

Just like in marketing, there is not a one size fits all approach. Each brand needs its own unique strategy and to be adaptable and have a strong commitment to authenticity. So, naturally, here’s a strategic framework, similar to those I create for social media strategies, but for you – your wellness strategy.

⚓️ Anchor Your Success: Your Wellness Strategy

Audit:

Take a look at your personal and professional mental health wellness – what’s working? What’s not? What are the opportunities for improvement? What are the good, better best options for improvement or the easy, needs some work and needs a lot of work goals? Be honest with yourself.

Mission:

What is your purpose for prioritizing your mental health? What does the outcome look like? It can be as simple as “I want to show up as my best self personally and professionally” or it can be incredibly deep and specific – it’s your mission.

Goals:

Set clear and achievable goals that align with your mission and can be measured. Some examples:

Easy: journal for 5 minutes every morning, set a daily time limit for social media

Medium: commit to working out for at least 30 minutes 3x a week, limit sugary snacks and processed foods, say no to commitments that will overwhelm you

Hard: attend therapy regularly, seek support in a friend or family member and invest time in learning coping mechanisms for managing stress

Audience:

Your partner, friend, social media followers, work bestie – whomever you feel comfortable with because you shouldn’t be on this journey alone. Also, don’t forget who’s watching you and how you make them feel. While prioritizing your own mental health it’s essential to make sure you are not contributing to someone else’s downfall because it will stick with them. I still remember shit my friends said to me in elementary, I think about it often – I wish I didn’t.

Tone:

There should only be one answer here, really: to approach your mental health journey with compassion and understanding. Recognize it’s ok to experience setbacks and challenges along the way – it’s life, it’s going to happen.

Content Pillars:

Your content pillars are the key areas of focus for your mental health strategy. Example:

🏛️Self care: exercise, nutrition and relaxation techniques

🏛️Stress management: deep breathing exercises, yoga or spending time outside

🏛️Coping mechanisms: journaling, therapy, creative activities

Content:

You don’t have to create content, but be mindful of the content you consume. From reading self-help books, listening to podcasts, using meditation apps and even searching the things you want to see and learn about on TikTok to modify your algorithm. I never know what’s trending on the clock app because I’ve trained mine to only show me the content that’s valuable to me – and that shit isn’t TrEnDy.

Community Management:

Surround yourself with supportive people digitally and IRL who lift you up and encourage you on your journey, and life in general.

Reporting:

What’s a strategy and ongoing planning without a progress check? Reporting could be check-ins with your doctor, therapist or to look at your evolution of journaling and how your mindset has changed. You can use self-assessment tools like mood-tracking apps.

There’s your strategic framework and I truly hope you stick to it. Know that people inside the computer can be ‘your people’ more than the ones you know on the outside – birds of a feather.

I could talk about mental health, approaches, and everything in between forever. I could write pages on what working with clients, and agencies have done to me, and maybe I will – on LinkedIn because that’s where the thought bro content goes. We have a whole month to talk about it. No, we have forever to talk about it because who gives a shit about “___ awareness month.”

Take care of yourself, check on others, and if you’re a leader, do more than tell your team to take care of themselves or to ask for an extension.

Namaste or something (obviously, yoga isn’t my coping mechanism),

Chelsea

Having a rough day? Put your hand on your heart. Feel that? It's called purpose. You're alive for a reason. Don't give up.

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Your weekly practical advice, insights and strategic guide to social media, community management, marketing and freelancing. Created from 15+ years of creating bespoke social media strategies and building thriving communities for 150+ clients and 25+ agency partners. My approach is simple: lead authentically, solve problems, connect, and make a difference.

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