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Mini Series: Self Care - Engaging with Self Care

Last week we talked about the consequences of denying ourselves rest and self care. This week I want to look at what engaging with self care is and how it can help creatives to find more abundance and peace in their creative practice.

Engaging with self care is different for everyone, and we all have different stories around what it is, how it works and why we need it. If you haven’t already, head on over to Introduction to Self Care and take a quick scan to see my perspective on what self care is and why we need it before jumping into these opinions of great ways to engage with self care for the creative.

Implementing Boundaries around your Creativity

The first and biggest hurdle to overcome for many creatives is giving a value to your creative time that others will understand and respect. It can be difficult to choose the creative life, and though people in your life may or may not be supportive, it can be hard for them to understand the sanctity of your creative time. By putting structured boundaries around the time you spend creating it gives them a sense of the seriousness with which you value your creativity. Doing this can help them see this time as important as the day job and family commitments.

This may look like shutting the door while you create in a specific room. It may be setting a time limit or time of day that they can expect you to be inaccessible to them. Perhaps you leave the house and go to a specific location for a period of time, separating the spaces to give distance to your creativity like one would go off to work or to the gym. You could even write out a schedule and tape it to the fridge or put it on the family calendar to indicate that this is structured time like a doctor’s appointment and set the expectation that you will be creating.

Managing Expectations around your Creativity for yourself and others

While setting boundaries can help you manage expectations for others, discussion, goal setting, and reflection can also have a profound impact in helping you to manage your own expectations of your creativity as well. The people in your life may not understand what it is you’re accomplishing by engaging with creativity because the societal narratives, though they are changing, are so ingrained in us. Having a conversation with them talking about what creating means to you can help them understand the level of respect you need in order to create and feel supported.

To manage your own expectations is another matter entirely. Because you're engaging in the process you need to understand what it is you hope to accomplish when you sit down to create, be open to less or more and understand that creativity is not always consistent, but showing up and being there for it can be a consistent part of your practice. Setting goals and timelines can help you to see where you want to go and how you can get there. Reflecting after each session can also be helpful to adjust your goal as you find your feet creatively and search for a process that works best for you.

Breaks are Necessary - Snacks, movement, rest

Self care while you are creating is important to stave off burnout and make sure you don’t run the well dry. Have checkpoints during your creative sessions where you grab a snack to fuel your body and always have water on hand. If your creative project has you sedentary for a large portion of your creative time make sure you take movement and stretching breaks to keep your body from stiffening up. If your practice is movement centered make sure to take breaks to sit down, cool down and listen to your body - fatigue can lead to injury. Most importantly, always take time to rest after a creative session. Give your brain some down time to relax and your soul some time to heal from being vulnerable. You may want to schedule these breaks in and place time requirements around them to make sure you give yourself the time you need to recuperate and take stock of your physical body while you’re lost in your creative world.

Exercise Grace

Back in May I did an entire mini series on Grace and the creative practice - for a look back click here for the first in the series. You may not always hit your goal. You may sit down to create and after an hour you have nothing done. Give yourself grace in these moments. Showing up is the bare minimum. So long as we do that and only that we are honouring ourselves, our time and our creativity. Showing up and proving to ourselves we can be there to meet our creativity builds trust in the process. Give yourself grace when you create. It is the ultimate act of self care and love.

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