Etsy’s design leader shares how openly talking about your core values can help improve your mental health

May 24, 2022, 8:55 PM UTC
Christina Goldschmidt, Vice President, Head of Product Design, Etsy
Christina Goldschmidt, Vice President, Head of Product Design, Etsy
Rebecca Greenfield for Fortune Magazine

At Fortune’s Brainstorm Design conference this year, Christina Goldschmidt, the vice president and head of product design at Etsy, spoke at the Care by Design session and shared how taking care of our mental health can make the workplace a more welcoming environment.

Rachael Dietkus, founder of Social Workers Who Design led the session and said a meaningful way to take care of your mental health is by identifying your core values. This exercise can help you identify what motivates you, what you bring to the table, and how you are feeling, and help you build better relationships with others.

What are your core values?

Core values are values that help you show up in difficult times and help you build relationships with others, explained Dietkus. You can have a wide range of values such as activism, confidence, forgiveness, love, self respect, or work ethic.

An exercise that can help you recenter yourself to figure out what your core values are is meditative breathing. “When we think about mental health, we think about our brains, but the reality is that a lot of stuff can happen with how you take care of your bodies,” said Goldschmidt.

Breathing exercises supply your body with more oxygen, and by getting more oxygen in you, you can achieve a calm state which brings a clear mind, she explains.

Once you are calm, it is easier to look introspectively and figure out what core values are most important to you.

Once you are calm, it is easier to look introspectively and figure out what core values are most important to you.

How to communicate your core values

After identifying your core values it is important to share them with others, so those who are close to you know how you feel, shared Dietkus. Having the ability to feel like you are in a safe space to communicate your feelings can strengthen relationships whether it is at home or in the workplace.

“At our teams at Etsy, we do things like have a resilience check for our entire team when we get on Zoom where the entire 90 people in my org will just put an emoji on what color they’re feeling today,” said Goldschmidt. Red means the person is not doing ok, and if she sees a red emoji, she knows she has to check in with that employee.

This practice also extends to the coworkers that report to her directly. “Every time we start a direct meeting every week, we actually say our highs and lows for the week, and sometimes people share remarkably personal things, and sometimes it’s really funny, but people get to show up authentically,” she said.

And it’s not just for the employees below her. 

“I’ve actually even gotten other senior leaders to show up and talk openly about people in their family who they support with their mental health issues,” Goldschmidt said. “That creates a larger amount of vulnerability all across the board, so then that allows us to all show up and have that be a ripple effect.”

Update, May 26, 2022: This article has been updated to clarify Rachael Dietkus’s role in the session.

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