When many of us think of "self-care" we tend to think of activities such as massage, yoga, physical activity, hanging out in nature, sleep, meditation, etc. We don't think much about doing art or some other creative activity as a form of "self-care". But I invite you to think of it in this way.
For me, my creative practice is one of my favorite self-care activities. Of course there is "work" involved, looking at composition, the images, thinking of what I want to convey, etc. But it is my favorite form of work....I get lost in it...I forget about the craziness in the world...my only focus is that art piece. I put on music that soothes my soul, scents that inspires and relaxes me whether it is essential oils or incense and I become one with my art.
A creative practice connects us to another place and a product of this connection is what ever we produce as a result. It is also a stress reliever and can be a way to deal with anxiety. An asociate of mine, who found himself caring for his elderly parents full time, would spend his time either in nature or creating art...using alcohol inks on small tiles, creating the most beautiful abstract pieces. At my last count, he was approaching somewhere between an impressive 80 and over 100 pieces of small abstract art as a result.
In a recent blog article from PsychCentral by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. on this topic included some ways that art and creativity can be utilized as a source of self-care from artist Stephanie Medford and Natalie Foster, LAMFT, ATR, an intuitive mentor and registered art therapist. I share a few from this article below:
"Collage your emotions. Self-care includes acknowledging, honoring and holding space for our emotions. When Medford is stuck on a difficult emotion, she creates a collage about it using old magazines and found papers. She looks for images, colors and shapes that express how she’s feeling. It’s a quick and messy process. Which is the point: These collages “are more about processing the feeling than making ‘art.’” "
"Play with clay. “Clay is a very kinesthetic and grounding media that helps us feel in control when things are not so orderly in the ongoings of our lives,” Foster said. Crayola makes an air-dry clay, or you can get non-drying modeling clay and store it in an air-tight container, she said."
"Draw your mood daily. Medford has a journal that contains pages with 2 x 2 inch squares. Every day she fills in one square expressing her mood that morning. “A big part of working through my anxiety is noticing how it feels in my body, and what images and colors it brings to mind,” Medford said. “Paying close attention to my experience, and drawing what I find, helps me to take some of the power away from the feelings and gives it back to me and my creativity.”
"Tell your story. Foster suggested creating an altered book. For instance, every day or once a week, you decorate the pages in any way you like. You might include important mementos or personal photos. “Over time the right story will come out—whether it’s your whole life story, or the story of your growth in the past year.”
"Write About Your Art. Writing about your art can spark important insights. Foster recommended journaling after you’ve completed a piece or project and then returning to it weeks or months later: “How have you changed since making the piece? How do you still think you need to adapt in order to reflect what you are creating in your life?”
Again, I invite you to explore how art and creativity can connect you to your emotions. What other ways has your creativity has helped to address your own self-care needs? Feel free in the comments below!
Many people ask me how I make time to create with so much going on in my life. Part of it is because I am a Gemini (ha,ha)...but mostly is because I learned the hard way what it feels like to not be able to create. I decided once I unblocked myself, it was important for me to nurture and encourage my creative muse at all costs.
To say that it has been easy would be untrue....there are days and weeks when my other world takes precedent and I am unable to make my creative practice a priority. But in those times, I make note of the things that inspire me, the ideas that come to me, and the images that get my attention. When the time comes again for me to resume my creative practice, I collect the ideas, images, etc., that I found during the time of unproductivity which helps me jump start my creative practice without searching for ideas.
So you may be telling yourself, that's great for you, but how can I possibly fit in my creative practice when I have a household to run, a full-time job, care taking of elderly parents, and other demands on my time? Here are a few ideas to help you determine whether or not that is truly a reality for you:
Once you decide that your creativity IS an important part of your life that should not be given to chance, you can take the steps to infuse it into your schedule. Don't worry about how much time you can spend right away, as you move forward and become more disciplined, you will find that it will take the right place in your schedule naturally.
September is "Self–Care Awareness Month" which is a time to remind ourselves that taking care of ourselves, first and foremost, is our priority. Self-care is often neglected in our everyday lives and especially for those of us who are creative. When we don't take care of ourselves, our creative life along with everything else can suffer. We may burn candles at both ends....maintaining a family, full time jobs, extra-curricular activites, etc. and put our creative pursuits on the backburner. By the time we chose to pursue our creative practice, we are burned out, uninspired or frustrated with the results of our attempts.
Or we may be active in pursuing a number of creative passions/projects and trying to do them all at the same time. Creative burn-out is real as well, and can leave you just as depleted as those who are managing a number of outside interests. You may feel you are feeding the muse, but what you might be doing is the opposite, leading to a major creative block.
Self-care is something that cannot be neglected. When you are tired, burned-out or focusing on so many things, after awhile, our bodies rebel by fatigue, illness, mental health concerns or other matters. Here are some self-care tips to help you actively maintain a healthy and creative life:
Use this month to start taking some steps, whether hourly, daily or weekly to help you stay positive, replenished energetic to open yourself for creative ideas and inspirations for your practice. What are some of you favorite self-care rituals or practices that you engage in to help you stay focused and healthy? Please share in the comments below!