Artists need self care just like everyone else, but we need a slightly different approach to some of the facets of caring for ourselves.
As lovely and relaxing as a pedicure might be, we need more- something to pique our creative brains and soothe our sensitive souls. Oh, and sometimes we need a kick in the ass to get on with art-making, which can be a form of self care if done lovingly…
Here are some activities and techniques you may find helpful in rejuvenating your arty self back to the creative superstar you know you are.
Physical Self Care
Sommmmmmmetimes we artists sit for a long time. As we all know sitting is the devil, so get up off your butt and take a walk. Besides this obvious tip, here are some more ideas for physical self care for artists:
Hands over eyes
One of my favorite ways to rest my eyes, besides lovely, fantastic naps, is eye palming. I didn’t realize it had a name until just now, but I’m not surprised. It’s beyond relaxing – not only for your eyes, but it helps calm your mind as well.
Palming technique: Rub your hands together vigorously for a few seconds to build up warmth and energy. Place them gently over your closed eyes, finger tips facing up, palms slightly cupped. Sit here for a few moments or minutes: breathe slowly or send healing energy to your cute little eyeballs.
Stretches for Artists
Watch (and perform) this video of hand, wrist, neck, and shoulder stretches for artists. I look cute doing this in the library as I’m writing this. 🙂
Physical Antidote to Procrastination or Artist’s Block
Dammit, sometimes I find myself sinking further and further into my couch, absorbed in something I’m making or writing, and then I realize I just can’t get up to walk across the room to draw or paint for a bit.
I’ve gotten really good at telling myself I’ll do it later, which of course never happens. A couple of good ways to lure yourself up and over to art-making-land are:
- Clap loudly 3 times and leap up. This is totally silly and ridiculous, and you’ll scare the crap out of your pet, but sometimes you need to have a little technique like this to get you on your feet.
- When you first sit down, set a timer on your phone, and leave it on your art table or easel. When it goes off, you’ll be forced to walk over there. Make the right choice when you get there. (Yes, I’m guilting you.)
Mental Self Care
Occasionally I write to my intuition, as I learned from Jess Lively on her podcast, The Lively Show.
Writing to your intuition involves sitting down with paper and a pen, taking a few slow, deep, breaths, and writing out questions or nagging thoughts you are having. Pause after each one and listen for an answer to bubble up from within you.
It’s hard at first, because you are trying to ignore what your brain is screaming at you as it tries to intervene, but listen to what answers or words come up from your gut or heart.
This is such a wonderful exercises for tuning into your true self, and keeping out the mental enemies of artists: comparison, jealousy, lack of self-worth, confusion.
Connect with other artists. Facebook groups, meetups, online forums, local art classes are all great ways to find your art people. Find the ones that lift you up and inspire you. Ain’t nobody got time to hang out with insecure, jealous makers.
Find or start a group where you all share info, tips, triumphs, and worries. These kinds of peer groups are invaluable to an artist’s mental well-being.
Just as athletes use visualization techniques to push themselves further in their sport, artists can use it to get past a block or push themselves to a new art level. (That sounds like a video game.)
Before you spit at me for getting all woo woo, I will tell you that visualization can take many forms. From making a vision board, to sitting quietly and picturing yourself happily making art, to guided visualizations, you can tap into this powerful technique in any number of ways.
Jack Canfield has a fantastic post on visualization if you want to read more about it. I love the index card technique.
Spiritual Self Care
I’m not religious. I’m not going to tell you to go to church here, but I’m also not going to tell you to not go to church if you are religious.
I do however find spiritual care incredibly important for healing and growth, and I wish I had started exploring this sooner. I am totally pro-meditation, in whatever way works for you. I’m also dabbling in Reiki and law of attraction thinking, and I find all of this stuff fascinating, where I outright rejected it all for years.
Find something that sparks some wonder and curiosity in you, something you can feel in your gut is beyond your physical self- even a little bit- and see if you can enjoy the positive sensations that come from this focus.
If you’re curious about meditation, or maybe you’ve tried it before and freaked out because it didn’t ‘work’ immediately (been there), try starting with the beginning series on the Meditation Studio app. I loved going through this as a total beginner, and then I found Insight Timer, which is a fantastic free app (you can pay for upgrades).
Art Self Care
These tips may fit under different categories, but I’m going to stick them here because they specifically have to do with artists.
Give yourself time to experiment and play with art techniques and supplies other than your focus. I do this a little bit too well as I tend to flit from idea to idea regularly, but sometimes it’s easy to get into a rut where you are locked into your style or medium and you get stale.
Poke around on Pinterest or find one of my art projects that looks interesting, and you may be surprised at how refreshing this can be to your creativity.
My inner critic totally sucks, yet I let it dominate my thoughts through most of my art-making sessions.
Recently I read somewhere an awesome tip that made me laugh at its simplicity (and effectiveness). Make bad art. When you try to make bad art, you lighten up your expectations, silence your inner critic, and get yourself just physically making something.
You’ve tricked your brain out of art block, and you’ll probably get a good laugh out of what you make. Or you’ll make a career out of making bad art, either way.
Focus Deeply on Your Art
Sometimes making art can feel like a means to an end, where you’re hurrying through to the finished product. This is such a yucky feeling and doesn’t serve you as an artist.
Give yourself permission to slow down and focus entirely on what you are making. Sometimes this will mean you turn off music, take a couple of deep breaths, do 10 jumping jacks, or hide your phone in another room.
Whatever you need to turn your thoughts fully to your art-making will make a huge difference in your satisfaction level with that creating time.
Self Care Resources For Artists
Yeah, you know I’m going to include The Artist’s Way in here, boyyyyy. It’s awesome. And here are some more self care resources for you.
The Artist’s Way: 25th Anniversary EditionBanish Your Inner Critic: Silence the Voice of Self-Doubt to Unleash Your Creativity and Do Your Best WorkArt & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of ArtmakingThe War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative BattlesWreck This Journal: Now in ColorSmall Cheap Sketchbooks to Blast Through
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