Creativity Coaching

9 Tips to Help Maintain Well-Being for Creatives

Mindfullness for Creatives

Many creative people are much more sensitive to stressful situations versus others.  It took me a while to accept this about myself but once I did, I discovered that I needed to put some self-care rituals and practices as a part of my daily, weekly and monthly routine in order to keep my balance in an often unbalanced world.  Not easy, especially in word we currently live in,  however, I have found that over time the practices I put in place has helped me exercise a more mindful way of life.

In talking with other creatives as well as my own experiences, thought I would share these tips that might be helpful to others who might find their own creative practice hampered because of the stress and emotional fatigue of everyday life.  Please note that doing any or all of these doesn’t necessarily make you as calm as all get out or keep you from having moments that may throw you off balance, but it does keep help you recover and/or keep your emotions in check and ultimately be able to help your creative practice on a regular basis.

  1. Meditation:  Meditation is an opportunity to get still, empty your mind and focus only on your breath. During the last year or so, I have been starting my day with meditation.  Because I often  have a “monkey mind” which wanders a bit much during this time, I have been using a lot of guided meditations from those I find on YouTube to more formal versions by Iyanla Vanzant, as well as Oprah and Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Experience. I save them on my smartphone so I can bring them up whenever I need them.  There so many apps for phones now with online guided meditations or music to meditate to which appeals to many people on the go these days.  Give a few a try and see what appeals to you most.

  2. Yoga:   Every damn day.  No…not really, but I have developed a fairly regular practice through my favorite yoga studio Radiance Yoga in Old Town Alexandria.  I also practice at a number of yoga studios across the DC area depending on what they offer.  A few offer unique combinations of art and yoga, such as Thrive Yoga in Rockville, Maryland which I am aching to try.  I recently participated in one through Blue Heron Wellness in Silver Spring, Maryland,  that combined hiking and yoga which was one of my favorite experiences to date.  If a yoga studio is out of your budget, you may want to check out apps, rent a DVD, check out yogis on YouTube or explore online courses that provide an opportunity to practice at home.  There are courses and content for every level and style.  Explore the yoga styles and traditions (Hatha versus Kundalini verus Bikram, etc.) that allow you to reach the level of relaxation the most.

  3. Spending time in Nature:  I am a big, big fan of this.  Spending time in nature can make all the difference in the world.  When you contemplate the wonders of nature, you will find it uplifting and inspirational to your own creative practice.  A visit to your local, state, or national parks is all you need.  Or even your own back yard!  Can’t get to an area outdoors?  Hit YouTube or a nature channel and insert yourself  mentally into your favorite landscape!

  4. Exercise:  There are research studies on the benefits of exercise and how that in addition to shaping and toning your body, that it elevates your mood and helps you deal with stress effectively.  Join a gym, recreation center or a walking group to get moving. Meetup.com is a cool place to find people who like doing the kind of exercise you might be interested in.   If affordability is a factor or the group exercise is not something you’re into, find a way to incorporate exercise to other passions. For example,  although I am a member of a gym, I am not a fan of that atmosphere, so as a nature lover, I am into walking or hiking (a new passion) outdoors which combines both of my love of movement and nature in one shot.   Check with your doctor to make sure that you engage in the right exercise that is safe for you, especially if you have physical challenges and restrictions.  There is a right kind of exercise for everyone so don’t let any limitations keep you from healthy movement.

  5. Spiritual Practice:  Attending a church or religious service with other like minds can be very stablizing.  Hearing the positive and encouraging messages from a church or religious leader, participating in community outreach or mission activities and surrounding yourself with others who share your beliefs adds to supporting your wellbeing.  If you don’t belong to a church or practice a religion, you can create your own spiritual rituals to support your beliefs.  This might be meeting with a spirtual support group, creating spirtual practice at home that might include setting up your own altar, daily spiritual or contemplative readings, or rituals that feed your soul.

  6. Alternative Therapies:   Have you ever tried something different, such as acupuncture, massage, reiki (energy healing) or crystal bowl sound healing?   That might sound a bit “woo woo” but exploring a different culture’s ancient forms of healing arts might surprise you on how you respond to them.  Check out the practioners of any alternative therapy and ask questions of others who have participated in the activity or treatment before pursuing…not everyone is certified or properly trained to be a practioner, especially since many fields of alternative therapy is not regulated.

  7. Your “Front Row”:  One of my favorite inspirational teachers is author and speaker,  Sophia Nelson, who I follow a lot on social media.  She talks about know your “Front Row”…i.e. your friends, family and support system.  These are the people you should be able to go to when things aren’t going well (and celebrate with when they are)…the people who got your back whatever the situation.  My Front Row has changed and shifted during the years, but I am blessed to have always had someone around who was patient, loving and willing to listen to me when things weren’t going well.  Your Front Row doesn’t have to reflect a stadium of people, it could be just a handful of people that you can go to listen, give authentic advice and most of all remind you of how special you are.  However, be discerning…not everyone who is eager to be a listening ear has your best interests at heart.  You can also “wear” folks out if you don’t take charge of your problems and continue to “dump” on them.  Check your “Front Row” regularly, people change and sometimes you find that they are not as supportive as you thought or may be indirectly contributing to your negative feelings.

  8. Create:  You are a natural creative….do what you do best…put your energy into creating something new as a way to work through your negative feelings.  You may not feel like creating but once you decide, just do it!  You may be surprised how feelings like grief, depression, anxiety, etc. can be fuel for some of the most beautiful art, poetry, writing that ever existed. Ask Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey and Adele…all three wrote and co-produced music that was influenced by heartbreak that not only were critically acclaimed but smashed sales records across the country and around the world.

  9. Seek Professional Help:  Many people still have a stigma of going to a psychologist, counselor, spiritual advisor or other professional to share their frustrations and feelings. Don’t forget to explore art therapy, especially if you respond well to creative ways of dealing with problems.  With so many celebrities (including English Royalty) coming out and sharing how they sought professional help to deal with their problems, you would think that this stigma would have gone by the way side.   Don’t let the stigma of seeing a professional or what your family and friends may think stop you from seeking help, especially when you are battling prolong feelings of depression or hopelessness.  There are many sources to help you, including one of my favorite charities, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, who maintain hotlines and referral services as well as in person and online group counseling resources.  Seek these free resources to help you move forward with a productive and inspiring creative life.

Online Challenges: Jump Starting a Daily Creative Practice

Gratitude Journal

 

Okay, I know when you read that heading, you scratched your head and said, “yeah right, a DAILY practice?  You are out of your mind.”  I might be, but I bet I’m not.

As a busy professional, it is has not been easy for me to keep up with my own creative practice.  At times, I would longingly look to my studio space and feel guilty for neglecting it…after all that is what it is there for right?

How could I possibly fit one more thing in a day that is packed with meetings, appointments, social activities, gym work outs, family, pet duties…the list goes on and on….art will be there when it all “settles” down.  The sad thing is…you and I both know that it doesn’t tend to settle down (if you are anything like me, it tends to revive up even more!).

One way I found that has been very helpful for me is online creative challenges.  This keeps my mojo flowing, allows me to experiment with different mediums and at I would not normally focus on in my own art practice.  A few years back, I started with  Art Everyday Month, a 30 day challenge started by artist Leah  Kolidasthat occurs every November that encourages you to create something, anything, related to a daily prompt.  If you scroll through this blog, you will see some of the creations I made with this challenge.

One that I started last year (unfortunately did not finish) was Spectrum facilitated by Hali Karla Arts  which not only challenges you to create on a regular basis, but you get to “sample” a variety of artists from across the country in various modules focusing on self development.  I have benefitted greatly from these kinds of challenges because I explore who I am and new mediums in the process.

HeArt Space facilitated by art therapist, Kate Leppard is another one of my favorites.  It is an ongoing creative challenge with different topics each month to spur your artistic practice.

The additional benefit is that most of these challenges create community….a commnity of like-minded artists and creatives that are working through the challenge with you.  I have made many friends and colleagues through the process since all of them include a private Facebook group to show your work or even at times vent about your creative process.

There are virtually 30-day or daily practice challenge in just about every creative field, whether it is writing, poetry, culinary arts, etc. you name it.  A google search on any of these topics with “daily challenge” or 30 day challenge will open you to a world of other creatives and can help jump start your practice.  There is nothing like seeing how others are juggling careers, kids, etc. and posting every day of their progress with a challenge.  If they can do it, you can too!

Lately, I felt that I needed to do a daily practice around the topic of gratitude.  I was bringing more attention to what others were doing and my challenges and I felt I needed to ground myself on all the magic Sharon has going on her own life and celebrate it.  I started off considering a written journal of the 3-5 things I was grateful for each day….however, I wasn’t motivated to write anything or would forget.   Enter the 30 Days of Creative Gratitude Challenge  (my journal cover above).

Artist, Priscilla George has this 30 day creative challenge complete with the Facebook Group and daily prompts focusing us to concentrate on things we take for granted as subjects for our art journaling practice.  I don’t do every prompt every day, but I do find that I am creating space not only for my art practice but to focus on the prompts as a way to feel gratitude for the everyday things that matter.

What creative challenges have your tried?  How have they enriched your creative life?