Caring for your creative self

Monday, 4 December 2017

Hands up who’s knackered? Even great years can be exhausting by December. So how about making your first act of self-care for silly season 2017 a theatrical pat on the back for everything you’ve achieved over the last 365 days – large and infinitesimally small? Closely followed by some gloriously guilt-free downtime to rest, reward yourself, and reflect on the positives of the year that’s drawing to a close?

It’s a shame ‘self-care’ sounds so sappy. One of life’s great self-preservation tools deserves a name that sounds like it’s been forged in fire by Vikings. Sometimes dismissed as new-age indulgence or confused with leisure or occasional treats, self-care is actually a profoundly useful professional tool that, when used regularly (rather than just when we feel ourselves falling into a heap) helps maintain our energy levels and mental health, avoid burnout, and keep focussed and motivated.

For creative folk whose work defies conventional work-life demarcation, self-care is especially important. We’re often pursuing our passions, yes, and we’re often having a ball doing it. But we pay handsomely for the pleasure. Long hours, modest pay, fluctuating freelancer finances, client pressure to do more with less. Throw in studio isolation syndrome and the endless juggle of part time jobs, family responsibilities and personal projects and it’s no wonder we often limp – half-cut – to the finish line of one year and start the next more relieved than excited.

If better balance is on your agenda for 2018 you’re in luck. There’s some very specific, down-to-earth advice out there about self-care for creatives and how to embed it into our lives. Make your second act of self-care this silly season some (regular, enjoyable, guilt-free) time to read and reflect on those that resonate. Preferably with a treat of some kind to hand. Then stick them, quite literally, in your 2018 calendar (and not all in a lump in December.)

ArtsHub has been covering self-care for creatives for years, spurning some fiery debates in its comments sections in the process. This primer by Emma Clark Gratton is as good a place as any to start. She might even convince you to schedule some digital downtime into your routine for 2018.

Former Artshub Deputy Editor and Extraordinary Routines creator Madeleine Dore is a long-time advocate of self-care in the arts. She interviewed a truckload of creatives for this epic list of 50 tips. Scheduling breaks and exercise, eating well, combating stress with play, relishing solitude, reconnecting with friends, creating to-do lists that are actually achievable, saying no occasionally, reacting to warning signs of stress and fatigue – if you can’t find a habit or two worth forming here you’re not trying.

Self-care is also a recurring theme in Madeleine’s Extraordinary Routines interviews, experiments and musings.

Ever-reliable TED, too, has plenty to say about self-care, from quick exercises to refresh your mind throughout the day to the upside of stress and breaking the isolation habit.

Now over to you. Maybe you’re a podcast junkie, book lover or blog devotee with some self-care faves of your own to recommend? Make it your third act of self-care – not to mention professional outreach – this holiday season to share them with your IA mates here.

From all at IA, thanks for a fabulous year. Here’s to a sensational summer and a fun, productive, beautifully balanced 2018 for every one of you talented lot.