We closed out this Mental Health May with a bang! 3 chats, 1 day, tons of information exchanged and new connects formed (Yay, community building!)
These past couple of weeks, I’ve been active in a new community called Culture Fix, “a global collaborative network of artists, cultural producers, and influencers, who use arts and culture to create social impact.” [Chats Tuesday 3pm EST]
What a lively group of people! Tuesday, in honor of #MHMay, we discussed self-care and its impact on mental health of creatives. KA-CHING!
- Self-care practices look different for everyone. Usually involve solitary time and special attention.
For me, self-care might look like disengaging from social media for a day or two, taking a long walk or a bubble bath, eating my favorite foods (cue the lamb and sweet potatoes!), or washing my hair.
- Self-care can be defined as any practice that grounds you, treating yourself the way you want others to treat you, learning to identify when you’re crashing and navigate your own space.
- Huge challenges to practicing self-care include family pressures and high expectations, needing to feel needed, 24-hour availability, and impatience.
Having a fear of missing out on opportunities to network, or collaborate, or score a job, or put out a new project–which is driven by comparing my journey to folks on social media–pushes me to stay up mad late in the name of accomplishing something. Sound familiar? (A bit too familiar?)
- We can overcome these challenges by acknowledging their root cause: What is driving you? What makes you feel the urge to be available to everyone at all times? What makes you shy away from resting and restricting access to you?
- Showing up for yourself renders you capable to show up for others.
- Caretakers, social justice workers, teachers, empaths especially need time and space to recharge and to heal.
Why do we so rarely talk about self-care? How do arts spark that convo?
We rarely discuss self-care for a variety of (cultural) reasons: Our egos won’t admit when we need a break; we don’t always acknowledge the difference between rest and sleep. There’s the pervasive myth that success in America/Western nations is based on you pulling yourself up by the “bootstraps” (Psst, meritocracy is a lie).
In certain communities of color where they emphasize the importance of heavy work ethic, self-care is seen as frivolous instead of vital, even criticized as self-absorbed activity.
As one person put it, there is a fear associated with taking care of your self; this in turn creates barriers to empathy and sympathy, where we cannot see someone’s hurt on multiple levels.
“Maybe taking care of ourselves means we might have to face the parts of ourselves that hurt or that we don’t like.” –Natalie Cruz
Art of all kinds allows us to forge a liberating space. Art is oftentimes viewed as a leisure activity–recent scientific studies have shown that creative activities reduce stress, even when you’re “not good” at it!
What does self-care matter? How does it impact our work, our art, and our communities?
No matter how many people are depending on you, you can’t pour from an empty cup!
We must learn to set boundaries between public and private life, between home and work, and within our relationships!
How do we overcome challenges to practicing self-care?
Say No. Find a quiet space.
Saying No to the bad things (vices, time wasters) and even the good things to do leaves room to say Yes to the great and beneficial things. Don’t overcrowd your plate and burn yourself out.
There is so much beauty in silence.
There is so much clarity in silence.
There is so much peace and wholeness in silence.
There are gems of wisdom in the quiet places. DO seek them.
Set yourself a curfew and an alarm (or 3).
Be accountable to yourself for how much sleep you’re actually getting–and scale back when necessary. I reset my biological clock by committing to going to bed at midnight and waking up by 8 a.m. Whatever doesn’t get done by midnight, is a task for another day. (Today I make an apparent exception…)
Value your worth beyond your work.
This is a huge one for creatives! You are not the sum of your achievements, accolades, or milestones–you are much more than that.
Also, when it comes to charging for work, why are we so quick to accept “exposure” as payment? We have needs to meet, bills to pay, and supplies/resources to allocate towards our respective craft. (Artists, I’m looking at us in particular.)
Learn how to negotiate in your own favor, and ask for the value that you are worth!
You are worth much, because your life and your legacy are priceless. Place a premium on your own mental and physical health!