Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Self-Care for Creatives





Writing and other creative pursuits take a toll on people. As I see it, there are two sides to the artistic coin: needing to create something—to relieve the inner pressure, the drivethat makes us crave putting our thoughts on paper, canvas etc. On the other side, digging deep within oneself to create something from nothing must come from a reserve of experiences, external/internal influences, and everything else in between. In other words, to put something out into the world, you must take it from somewhere else. But, we all need to replenish ourselves, which is why self-care is so important.

Self-care is beneficial for everyone, not just creative, artistic, or writerly folks. For the sake of mental/emotional/physical etc. health, we must take time for ourselves. Speaking as a writer, I know that if I push myself too hard, if I cling too tightly to things going on in my life, my words will clam up as hard as I am able to clench my fists. And if I keep going down that road without practicing self-care, I will eventually end up physically ill with a cold or stomach issues. Everyone processes stress in different ways, but everyone can benefit from caring about yourself. Here are some tips.


Exercise

I know this is cliche, and you see it on lists all the time, but exercise can help to reshape your state of mind. But when I say exercise, I don't necessarily mean going to the gym or hiking for two hours. It could be something simple like stretching in your chair, walking to get a glass of water, or changing the position you are working in. For those writers who have mobility issues/illnesses etc., do what works best for you. You know your body better than anyone, and you know how far you can push yourself. Be kind to yourself and your body.

I like to do light yoga as it helps stretch out the tightness and stiffness in my muscles, but I have to constantly remind myself not to remain stagnant when I am writing daily and for long hours.



Meditation/Quietness/Reflection 

However you wish to term this, take some time to sit in the quiet of the day. Focus on your breathing and take slow, steadying breaths, if possible. I find that reminding myself to breathe in this way, through my diaphragm, has done wonders for my anxiety. Some may wish to attach spiritual meaning to this practice, and this is fine as well. Whatever makes you feel most rejuvenated is what self-care is all about.

If you would like a breakdown of more practices (in the school of Mindfulness teaching) let me know, and I can write another blog post on this subject.


Step Away

This is, by far, one of the hardest things for me to do. I get so wrapped up in all the things that aren't working in my WIP, the negativity I see in all aspects of the world today, and my own shortcomings as a human being, that sometimes I need to step away. 

This can come in any form, whether it be to take social media apps off your phone, physically step away from a situation/go outside, or even distance yourself from draining relationships. 

There is no shame in doing what you need to do to maintain balance within yourself. 

Being an INFJ, I absorb emotions like a sponge (don't mistake me, I would give this trait away, if I could). All of these things affect me and may stifle my creativity, replacing it with self-doubt, fear, or anxiety. I am not telling you all of this in a woe-is-me sort of way...I'm saying these things in the hope that I can reach others who are like me. I want people not to feel so alone in this big universe we spend so little time in. Self-care takes on many shapes and forms because people come in all shapes and forms. Stepping away from things that drag you down emotionally may help to push the "reset" button on your creative capacities.

Delve Into Other Hobbies/Pursuits

For writers and other creative folks, having other hobbies can replenish your energy stores so that you can come back to what you love to do. For writers, in particular, it is often suggested that we read as well as write. Read what you love as it will offer distraction for your mind, and that plot point you may have been struggling with will sort itself out. Reading within your genre is a good way to be productive in improving your craft without burning yourself by constantly creating all the time.

I believe it is also important to read outside your genre as it can give you insight into new styles and new ways of presenting words on the page. As I typically write fantasy, I will also read horror, mysteries, and romance. Reading these sorts of books makes me excited to get back to my own work...it's like I just learned new secrets of a universe I didn't know before. 

Besides reading, creative types (or anyone, really) can benefit from other hobbies, too. If you are a writer, try playing a musical instrument if you have access to one, paint, or even play video games. The point is not to waste your whole day being unproductive, but to give your mind and body a rest from its daily grind.

Be sure not to take these things to the extreme to avoid living your life or doing what you need to do, but hopefully, these tidbits help those in need of a little self-care.


How do you practice self-care? Find me on Twitter or comment below!



May your words be great and your pages many~


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