Guest Column

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7 simple steps

Self-care is any deliberate self-initiated act we do for ourselves for mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, or financial health. It seems simple, self-explanatory. For the artist, it’s not. Artists are natural givers. We are innately sensitive to and analytical of everything around us. We receive cues from the environment and people around us, processing our experiences and what we see and hear from others with keen awareness. Whether we choose to fill in the details with idealism and grace or harsh, critical realism, we are always painting portraits of the world in and around us .

In a fast-paced, production driven world, grace and critique come with heavy burdens for an artist. Many artists derive self-worth from what we create, produce, ordo for others.

Often, we are so inspired and over-stimulated by the goings on around us, we forget that in order to produce our best work, we have to care as much for ourselves as we do our art and others.

Here are seven simple self-care strategies for artists and others, that don’t include a trip to the spa or salon..

Breath

Watch your breath. It’s our connection to Life force and guides the rhythm of our lives.

If your breath is shallow and scattered, your mind and life probably is too. Take a few minutes each day to watch and listen to your breath. Don’t over think it, but do breath deep.

Unplug and Disconnect

Many of us thrive around others, getting creative inspiration from the happenings of the world. We might feel we’re missing out if we seclude ourselves. We never forget to charge our phones and other devices. Consider this your recharging.  Set aside time, away from people and social media, with your devices silences or powered off. Even if it’s only an hour each month, make this time just for you. Log off so you can power up.

Get Grounded

Walk barefoot in the grass (clean, I hope.) Pull your head from the clouds and put your feet (or hands) in the dirt. There is research that suggest that exposure to certain microbes in soil might lift your mood. Similar research has shown that children breathing, playing, and digging in the dirt might have long term benefits for the immune system. So kick off your shoes or get yourself some plants and don't be afraid to get dirty.

Take Notes

We are sensitive to everything around us, so always keep a notebook journal or note taking app handy so you can catch this inspiration without having to process what you’re receiving. Write down or take a picture so you can come back to it late.

Open Up

Just like you have to disconnect from people to recharge, you’ll benefit from being open about how you feel. When people ask you how you’re doing, don’t lie. It’s going to put people off at first. They’re use to your canned response. If you’re not fine, don’t say you are. A few thing will happen when you do this, the people who care will respect your vulnerability, those who do will get out of your way, you'll feel catharsis, and your artistic expression will flow more freely.

Be Mindful

It’s just as important to watch your thoughts as it is to watch you breathe. Mindfulness is being aware and conscious of what you are thinking. Make it a practice to be present with your thoughts and feeling without judgement. In this, you’ll find you are less reactive and more responsive to things around you.

Practice Gratitude

There is always something to be thankful for. In our current cultural, social, and political climate, it’s getting harder to find those things, but you’re an artist. There’s one thing, your creativity. You’re reading this, Over twenty percent of adults in our nation’s capital and more than 15% of American adults probably can’t. There’s another. You’re breathing. Yet, another. You can take it from there. Keep a list in that notebook.

Remember to take care of yourself and others.

Lady Khadija is an advocate, poet, artist, and educator. She uses new media, performing arts, activism to ignite cross cultural dialog, encourage community and spiritual development, and inspire social change.  Check her out at www.LadyKhadija.com