When we're in a state of creative flow, we can sometimes forget that we even have a body, because our minds are exploding with colour, sounds, words and images. But when unhealthy habits sap your body of its innate vitality and strength, your creativity and productivity can be sapped as well. They work hand-in-hand, in a beautiful, delicate balance.
What could be more frustrating than the interruption of your creative flow by an uninvited headache, back spasm, or dullness of mind?
I once heard the expression that guitar players are "small muscle athletes”. Meaning, they need to warm up those muscles and treat them well. Perhaps, as artists, we're ALL small muscle athletes. After all, we do need a good measure of physical endurance to get through our creative tasks, no matter what they may be.
Whether it's sitting hunched over an easel, the repetitive movements of playing a musical instrument, the stamina to stand and walk on stage throughout an entire show or sitting at a computer keyboard for most of the day, our creative tools all require the use of the body.
To keep the body strong and resilient takes daily attention and consistency.
Day-to-day self-care practices, such as getting enough sleep, eating three healthy and balanced meals that are evenly timed throughout the day (plus healthy snacks if you need them), moving your body actively and drinking enough water are all essential for taking care of your body.
Taking care of the body also affects the mind. Fatigue, malnutrition, inactivity and dehydration will all have adverse effects on the mind and the ability to problem solve, concentrate and connect ideas.
The Creative Cycle and Self-Care
Touring with a band, rehearsing for a show or burning the midnight oil to finish a painting before a gallery opening, are all examples of extraordinary circumstances where we might relax our self-care discipline and adopt a whole new set of rules.
Then, when the show or tour is over or the piece is finished, we sometimes sink into an anti-climactic "low" or a period of transition before we get back into the creative flow again.
The daily practices you keep when things are "normal" will build resilience for the times when these extraordinary circumstances come up. They also build habits and healthy living skills that you can draw on when life gets more challenging.
Put it into play
One of the best practices for a healthy body, mind and spirit is to get enough sleep and rest. Tonight, end your evening activities half an hour early, and spend that time winding down. Release the worries of the day by writing or speaking about them. Calm yourself with a bath, tea, massage, music or a good read that doesn’t remind you of your work.
We can all come up with reasons or excuses as to why we can't exercise, we can't make different food choices and we can't focus more on our health.
You have a unique creative gift to share with the world, but your creativity relies on a fruitful and healthy mind and body.
So which of your reasons for not taking care of yourself could ever possibly be more important than that?
Janna Marie XX