Listening to the signals from your body, balancing lifestyle as an artist

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I saw this coming, for the past 4-5 months I’ve been working like crazy to keep up with events, client work and personal exploration along with social media, my shop and website. I tend to be one of those people who thrive on being busy, and I often don’t allow myself much time to sit quietly on my own and do nothing. I’m realizing more and more how important it is to take care of our bodies that hold us up everyday and run on fumes when things are busy. It doesn’t help that I can be very critical of myself as well in times where I should be nurturing my talent and achievements instead I tell myself things like “this could be better next time” or “you could have done more today”. I’m not sure when I stopped being my own best friend, but I think that’s something really important to think about in this line of work when you’re spending many hours on your own developing your skills and talents and learning all the ways to run a business at the same time.

After spending so much time in “go-go-go” mode, I noticed my energy levels starting to crash in these past few weeks and that I wasn’t taking time to do the things that are so important to me anymore like cooking, keeping my apartment clean, going to the gym regularly and walking the dog. These are the things that give me so much balance in my life and allow me to really focus on my work when it comes time for it. Instead I’ve been spending nearly every waking hour working or thinking about work in a reactive way like answering emails, phone calls, and drawing even when I know my mind needs a break.

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I remember when my mom and I would go on vacation together, specifically when we went to Costa Rica while I was in University, I had just come out of a really busy semester where I wasn’t sleeping much or eating well because I was commuting to school and trying to keep up with projects while also trying to figure out what it is that I was going to do with my career. During the beginning of the trip, I was so tired all the time, I felt so physically drained I would fall asleep by the pool or sleep in the mornings which was unusual of me to do. Then, after a few days I felt my energy pick up again and I enjoyed things like running on the beach in the early morning and reading a good book. I found myself again during those trips and I came back refreshed.

On Wednesday this week, I headed downtown with a friend of mine to do some work together during the day as she is heading off on a trip soon, and we went to dinner with some friends afterwards. During that afternoon, we went to Starbucks and I got my usual coffee and a chocolate treat, and I’m not sure what happened but I just completely hit a wall. Within an hour I was unable to continue working and felt a strong urge to lie down (I couldn’t, of course). I managed to make it through dinner with a powerful headache, and headed home to crash. Then yesterday (Thursday) I decided to take the morning slow, which turned into the afternoon as well. I had some client work I had to do, so I did it but I hardly moved all day. Today, the same thing happened again, except this time I couldn’t get out of bed until 11am which is so incredibly rare of me, and I have been lying around all day unable to work due to a migraine.

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If you have read the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, you’ll know about the morning pages, but to summarize them here, morning pages are just stream of consciousness writing on 3 pages every morning where you basically spill your brains onto paper, whatever comes to mind you jot it down and then you put it away.

For the past several months, I never allowed myself the time to do the morning pages as I would rush over to the gym as soon as I’d wake up. It wasn’t a good way to go. I realized today that my body needs some time to heal. From all the harsh criticism, the sleepless nights, the stream of events, the endless doubts, it all really added up, and today I’ve been able to listen to my body so clearly for the first time in a long time.

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As an artist, we constantly seek to improve ourselves, but the point I’m trying to make in this post is to make sure you allow yourself the time to create but also the time to do all the other humanly things you enjoy because it’s very easy to lose that balance and fall into a block. No matter how much you love your work, if you don’t take time to love your life as well, the balance will quickly fall off and you’ll feel the pain physically and emotionally.

In a culture focused so much on hustling and working hard, it’s really hard to allow ourselves the time to do nothing, or to see it as a bad thing. So, to end this post, I’m going to leave you with this quote:

In a person’s career, if you’re process-oriented and not totally outcome-oriented, then you’re more likely to be a success. I often say ‘pursue excellence, ignore success.’ Success is a by-product of excellence.

- Deepak Chopra

Sabina FennComment