Working in the creative field may seem like a dream job, and for many it is. However, careers in entertainment, advertising, production and more can take a toll on anyone’s mental health. Stressors may often come from the constant production of ideas, irregular schedules and unhealthy work-life balance that is common in these industries. Even A-list entertainers like Taraji P. Henson and Megan Thee Stallion have openly spoken about the mental health challenges they’ve faced amid their successful careers.

Fortunately for us, there are people like Ian Davis who are providing tools for creatives and businesses to grow while ensuring wellness remains a priority. Davis is a creative entrepreneur, producer and strategist who founded Age of The Creative, a consulting agency that implements a mindful approach to strategy and progress.

After speaking with a friend who lost their father, Davis came to a realization about the unnecessary sense of urgency found in American work culture, which motivated him to launch the company. “How we’re socialized here in the United States, we live to work instead of working as a means to living,” he told REVOLT.

In its almost 10 years in business, Davis’ agency has provided development workshops for creatives, company strategy consultations, personal development sessions, business solutions and more — even partnering with major brands like Amazon Music, Spotify, Viacom and award-winning artists. The consultancy has also raised over $300,000 for the creative community.

Alongside his entrepreneurship, Davis is also an accredited mindfulness and meditation teacher who implements his expertise through The Mindful Creative. In this exclusive interview, REVOLT chatted with him about his impactful work, music, self-care, mental health education and more. Read up!

What inspired you to incorporate something like mindfulness and mental health work in corporate settings?

I started my consultancy in 2015 and always worked with creatives. When I thought about what was out there specifically for that community — as far as resources are concerned — to grow their mental well-being, I didn’t see anything that existed or people doing it that looked like me.

Not only did I want to focus on the creative community, [but] what would it look like to go into some of the companies, the organizations, the places that created people work and creative leaders, and C-Suite people as well? I think it’s important more companies have tangible tools and resources for their team -- not necessarily to be more productive, but to be better people.

From your experience, what are some of the mental health challenges that creatives face within their respective industries?

I think some of the challenges that they face are predominantly stress and anxiety. Also, depression. Maybe even attention-deficit disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Also, hyperfixation; I think that falls under ADD or ADHD. So, I think those are the things that creatives face just navigating through their careers, and I don't necessarily believe this is a thing — I think we've created it to be a thing — but imposter syndrome.

I think that also dives into mentality. I think that creatives are generally challenged in that capacity when it comes to their work and balancing [it with] their well-being and mental health. I think those are the things that predominantly show up. Stress is probably the most apparent, in my opinion.

How should a busy creative prioritize mental wellness and mindfulness?

I think it's important to always just kind of start your day with some time to yourself. I know a lot of people are advocates of putting your phone away, not looking at your screen. I think the biggest thing in finding time for yourself is finding out what works best for you. Having time for yourself is very important because it allows you time to sit in stillness, in quiet, and listen.

Depending on whatever your practice or your modality is, as far as having the resources, it allows you to practice that. Whether you're doing yoga, meditation, mindfulness, Qigong, Kundalini yoga, prayer, working out, or being active, there are so many things that you can do and sometimes you can do these in community with people. I think it's great because that allows the space, opportunity and platform for dialogue.

Outside of providing wellness resources, how can media outlets better support mental health initiatives?

[Developing] a strategy around this sort of content, whether it is an editorial interview, whether it's visual content, audio, etc. There are so many different mediums and ways that you can present as helpful resources. Just as you would tackle Black History Month like, “Hey, we wanna talk about these musicians and how they're pushing culture,” I would implore REVOLT or anybody else to do the same thing... to tackle this in the same way and not make it just a [way to] check mark off relevancy.

Many creatives are following their passion, which can prevent them from prioritizing mental health. What is your advice for them regarding reasons they should take care of themselves, even if they are working their dream job?

That's a really great question. I would answer with the question, “If you don't take care of yourself, who else will?” Having worked for these companies as an employee and then also as a contractor, I don't think that the resources are there. Our world is driven by success, profitability... moving a project forward whether you're a creative or not.

Companies aren't going to sit here and ask , “Hey, do you need to take a day?” No. If you have a deadline for tomorrow, they're going to be like, “OK, you need to take a day? Cool, what’s happening with this deadline? Because we still have to meet it.” Everybody has moments when we're not at our best. We just need a moment to recalibrate and reset.

You just celebrated nine years of entrepreneurship. What was the hardest part of that journey?

I love entrepreneurship. It's something that I didn't imagine myself being in when I was in my first job. This is great. I'm doing exactly what I wanted to do. A lot of the perks that you get are some of the personal fulfillment and the enjoyment to not only pursue your passion but work on the things you want to work on. I think the bigger challenge is consistency and stability. I could do something well once, but how can I do that multiple times? But having consistency and stability also requires resources and some of those show up financially.

As it relates to mental health in the Black community, where do you think we are in removing the stigma? And where do you want mental health education to go moving forward?

I think the work [and conversation] has started -- it's great. [However], I believe that we need to be a lot more actionable... So, what are actual things that are put in place where things, places, opportunities, [and tangible] resources go along with the conversations that are happening?

I'm grateful to be a part of a great faith-based community with a free mental health center in Harlem. I teach mindful Mondays for men and the community is predominantly Black there... We need more of that. I think when it comes to our mental health, it goes beyond just saying, "You need to go to therapy” and “I'm stressed out.” I think it goes into what I look at -- the four pillars of wellness.

It is that mindful refinement. It is holistic and movement practice. It's spirituality, nutrition, supplements, adaptogens and literally looking at everything as food. What are you putting in and on your body? Not just in your mouth. What are you consuming? Who is in your constant contact circle? So, I believe it's fully encompassing.

How can creatives take care of themselves on a daily basis?

I think practicing my movements is paramount, and then you can also practice mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness is a present-moment awareness... cultivation, right? It's paying attention purposely in the moment with kindness on yourself. No judgment.

Take inventory when you feel anxious, when you feel stressed, when your body feels tight. And being mindful, pay attention to that. When we're stressed out, our breathing naturally gets a little shallower. When you slow down your breaths, it helps you alleviate some stress and opens your ability for acceptance of recognizing what's happening in the moment. That's the mindfulness practice.

As someone who serves others, how do you take care of yourself?

If I'm not going to take care of myself, nobody else is. Nobody's going to give me a break. Nobody’s going to tell me to stop working. Early on in this entrepreneurship journey, I was working 12-plus-hour days to that point, too. I realized before the pandemic [that] nothing's ever urgent. So, I've been able to protect my space and set boundaries for how I structure my days.

I do my best to not look at email unless it’s something I really need to move forward. I don't work on weekends, and I do my best to not stay up late as well. Rest is important, imperative and revolutionary. We're not getting enough rest as humans -- everybody's tired all the time. More rest gives us the opportunity to be better people, show up for the people that we care about in our lives, and show up for work.

I'm working on integrating more movement practice. I play golf... started playing about a year ago. I've been plant-based for six years. I'm aware of what I put on my body to moisturize my skin... aware of what I'm listening to. I'm conscious and intentional about who I'm surrounded by and who I follow. I do my best every day to wake up early and have time to myself before the day gets started, undisturbed. It gives me an opportunity to write, listen to God, talk to God and meditate. I go through my daily routine and that really helps me.