Hello again friends! I originally shared this post on my old blog a couple years ago, right after asking subscribers what kind of content they most wanted to read from me next. Most people shared something like "self care for ___." They wanted to be able to tailor self care to their own lives, which duh, totally makes sense. So I’m often thinking about various groups, generally based on what my subscribers have been asking for, so we can talk about how to most effectively practice self care for your lifestyle.
Today, the lucky winners are Creatives. I’ve gotten the privilege to connect with a lot of creatives, entrepreneurs, photographers, and bloggers mainly through Ivory & Pine’s social media, and I’ve started to pick up on the general struggles when it comes to self care. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed expressing my creativity through music, art, and writing, but forget that it’s an adjective I can use to describe myself professionally too. I kinda forget to be a Creative sometimes, ha. I think that generally comes from stress, exhaustion, burn out…. Basically all the things that we need to fight with self care. So if you’re a Creative who’s forgotten how to be creative, this post is for you. Here are my top therapist-approved self care ideas for Creative types.
- Spend time in nature
A lot of Creatives thrive in the city, and that’s totally cool, but you need a little fresh air in your life too! Constantly being in the midst of traffic, concrete, work, school, and crowds can lead to feeling really cooped up. That perceived lack of freedom can definitely start to stifle creativity after a while, and if creativity is a big part of your identity, that can get downright scary.
In addition, our bodies build up toxins from modern life. Think about it… smoke, chemicals, pesticides on food, exhaust from cars, odors that get trapped indoors… so many things build up in our bodies. Getting fresh air and just walking outside can start to improve that. I think it’s essential to get out at least once a day and take a walk, just to help you body clear itself out.
Take some time to actually find wide open spaces if you can! If a day trip isn’t feasible, check out a local park or bike trail… anywhere where you can add some nature to your life. Many Creatives also find inspiration in nature, which leads me to my next point...
- Find time for inspiration
How many of you have suffered from creative burnout? Whether it’s writer’s block, an artist’s lack of inspiration, or having no idea what content to post on your blog, creative burnout can not only be discouraging, but detrimental to our careers. Sometimes, you have to shake things up a bit to find inspiration, and I think this can happen in two (opposite) ways.
The first is to get away. Work in a coffee shop instead of your office. Take a trip to a place that lives and breathes the style you love. Try a conference or workshop in your field. Wander through a new city. Anything to switch up your routine and allow yourself to be open-minded and free.
The second idea is to have a creative routine. William Faulkner apparently said, “I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes at 9 every morning.” The meaning?
Just sit down and do your thing. Every day. No matter how you’re feeling.
Some mornings are a lot more inspirational than others. Some days we straight up have no idea what we’re doing. And that’s ok. Just start writing, or drawing, or painting, or playing. It doesn’t even matter how it turns out. The important thing is that you’re getting your creative juices flowing. Inspiration and productivity will come in time.
- Take time to be alone
I don’t think creativity is associated with introversion or extroversion beyond general stereotypes, but I think there’s a certain creative sensitivity that craves time alone now and then. The creative mind is often full of ideas, thoughts, hopes, dreams, questions… it can be overwhelming. You need time to decompress and just be you, with no expectations.
Practicing my creativity, but alone, is often how I practice self care. I’ll sit down at the piano, knowing that I can play whatever I want because the only audience is me. That’s so much more freeing than a performance for me. Or I’ll journal, because I can write to express myself without checking my grammar or making sure the words actually make sense. I’ll paint or try a new project. I’ll sing in the car. I much prefer to do these things alone, not because I’m ashamed of my creativity, but because I can freely express it with no feedback.
Perhaps this desire to keep creativity private at times leads back to my own tendencies toward perfectionism, which are definitely not a good thing. But I still think that alone time is important for creatives. You need time to reflect on who you are as a human being, and to accept it.
- Keep dreaming
I watched Zootopia the other night. Yes, the animated kid’s movie… track with me here. And it’s a really funny and cute movie by the way, I watched it by myself and loved it. Anyway, at the beginning the main character, a little bunny, decides she wants to be a police officer when she grows up, despite her small stature and the traditional role of bunnies in society (which is not generally enforcing the law). Her parents basically tell her it’s better to settle and play it safe than follow her dreams. Their good desire to keep her safe and not see her fail leads to them telling her to not try anything! Well, moral of the story, she becomes a police officer, and a fantastic one at that. You’ll have to see the movie for the rest….
Anyway, the point is that settling and allowing dreams to die can be really detrimental to Creatives. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be realistic. There are many contestants on American Idol who have dreams of being pop stars, but really need to let those dreams die. I am saying that you should sculpt your dreams to reality, but still have dreams and pursue them wholeheartedly.
If that means a change in careers, then go for it! It’s a big step, and this is where I do encourage a reality check. But the world is more connected than ever and there are tons of opportunities to be an entrepreneur, so I think many creative careers can be realistic!
But perhaps you have creative talents and hobbies, and work a day job that’s unrelated. My dad is a fantastic musician. He worked in the business world his whole career, and played in several bands over the years on the weekends. He still pursued his creativity, and got paid for it, and had super cool opportunities, but it was never his primary income. I realized in college that I didn’t want to pursue a full-time career in music. It’s not my primary income either. I actually changed my major partially because piano, my lifelong love, was becoming work, and that was making me miserable and bitter. I prefer to be creative for fun, at least with music. Just make sure you save room for the creative parts of you.
Ultimately, you have to decide what is a better fit. But keep dreaming. Keep those creative bits alive through whatever means necessary. Jump on opportunities to grow or show off your work! Regularly meet with creative communities, in person or through social media. Just don’t stifle it!
- Let yourself be uncreative
Work with me on this one. If you express creativity as a hobby, outside of your career or other activities, then it may very well be an important part of your self care! However, if you are a Creative as your career, the passion can start to die and it’s just work. You forget why you loved doing that creative thing in the first place!
In the last point, I talked about how important it is to keep dreaming and keep the creative side alive. But sometimes, when we’ve hit the point of burnout, attempting to reignite the creative fire too quickly can be more exhausting than helpful. When that happens, sometimes self care means taking a retreat from everything that typically requires you to “perform.” It’s okay to not be creative for a day or two. Or a week or a month, if that’s what you need. Sometimes nurturing the other parts of yourself is the best thing you can do for your creativity.