The conversation around self-care lately is a much-needed shift away from the “hustle at all costs” mentality that has been pervasive for far too long. While there’s nothing wrong with working hard towards your dreams, it should never be at the expense of your physical and mental health.
Unfortunately, the term “self-care” often gets distilled down to at-home spa days and indulging in sweets while binging your favorite sitcom on Netflix. While those are totally viable forms of self-care, they aren’t the whole story, and they’re usually reactive rather than proactive.
Self-care is the ongoing practice of nurturing your mind, body, and spirit. As creatives, our passion lies in the process of creating things, but just because it’s something we love to do doesn’t mean that it can’t drain us. You can still run into creative burnout!
Here are some self-care ideas for writers and creatives that will help you stay grounded and keep your cup full so you don’t hit the burnout stage.
Other posts you may like:
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Self-Care Ideas for Writers and Creatives
Connect with nature
Nature has a special way of grounding us and quieting the noise inside. I’m always amazed by how replenished I feel after even just stepping outside and really paying attention to what’s around me. It’s a wonderful healing force.
Listen to the wind in the trees, feel the ground beneath you, breathe in the fresh air. It will help you reset. You could go for a walk, have a picnic, read in the park or do some other outdoor activity that you love. The best part is that it doesn’t cost any money and you can easily social distance while doing it.
Now, more than ever, nature has proven to be one of our greatest gifts.
I’m a big proponent of journaling. For a while, I wasn’t into it because I didn’t think it was for me. (Yes, I realize the irony of this coming from a writer!) But when I finally tried it, I was pleasantly blown away by how much of a difference it made in helping me process things I didn’t even realize were bothering me, come up with new ideas, and improve my focus.
It’s like unclogging a pipe. The more regularly you do it (daily is best), the more smoothly your thoughts and ideas will flow. It’s very useful for dismantling overwhelm and working through problems so that you can clear out the noise and cultivate a more peaceful, stable inner life.
Visualize and create a vision board
Visualization and vision boards are incredibly useful tools for getting in touch with your truest (and highest) self and exploring your creativity through the lens of your own life.
Let go of all limitations and let yourself dream. This project is meant to be a fun, free-flowing way to reconnect with who you are at your core and what you want to bring into your life, beyond your current reality. Where do you want the story to go? What do you want the narrative to be? Take a stroll through your dreams for a little while.
Schedule “creating” hours & downtime
Whether your creative endeavors are your full-time job or not, setting boundaries is important to your self-care. It can be all too tempting to work on your projects whenever you have an ounce of free time, to the point of leaving yourself no true downtime at all.
While writing and other creative activities are passion projects, that doesn’t mean they don’t drain our energy. You still need time to relax and unwind without the pressure of thinking and creating. So, determine what your “creating” hours are with a real schedule, like office hours, and block out downtime so you don’t end up burning yourself out.
Give yourself permission to take breaks. Honor the time you set aside for things that don’t require you to make any decisions. Your creativity will actually become stronger because you are taking the time to fill your cup back up.
Set aside quiet time
Do you feel the need to always be “doing” something? It’s become all too common for us to feel guilty if we aren’t doing something productive and to struggle to sit in silence with our own thoughts, doing absolutely nothing. But these quiet moments are some of best opportunities for reflection and to remember how to simply… be.
While it may be uncomfortable at first, over time, you’ll sink into the experience. You can try a guided meditation (there are many free ones on YouTube or you can use an app like Calm or Headspace), listen to ambient music, or simply sit outside in nature and take in the life around you. Let yourself be still.
Establish morning & evening routines
While I believe you can “recalibrate” your day at any time, putting in the effort to start your day off in a way that invigorates and inspires you gives you a better chance that things will go great from the start. Think about the mornings when you wake up and feel frazzled right the get-go versus the ones where you feel clear-headed and excited to take on the day. How did that affect the rest of your day?
Start your day on your terms. What fills you up and makes you feel good? Do you like to start with a workout that gets your blood pumping? Do you like to get some fresh air to wake up your senses? Or do you like to ease into your day with some reading or another relaxing activity?
The way you close out the day is important, too. If you struggle to fall asleep or never feel like you go into a deep enough sleep, it may be because you go to bed in too much of a heightened state, which can happen if you are stimulating your senses too much right before bed (such as working on a project until you collapse) or watching something on TV that is too exciting and gets your mind whirring.
Create a night routine that starts at least an hour or two before bed that will help you unwind. Maybe it’s a warm bath and a book, maybe it’s some journaling to put your thoughts to rest and calming bedtime yoga. Find what works for you.
There’s no shame in loving our devices but the phrase “too much of a good thing” definitely applies here. Being so plugged into technology and the world 24/7 can be extremely draining, even when you don’t realize it.
Set aside some time each day to completely unplug, even if it’s just for thirty minutes or an hour. Put your phone on silent in the other room and do something that doesn’t require tech, like putting together a puzzle, knitting, coloring in a coloring book, or reading. It’s also a nice opportunity for your eyes to rest from staring at screens all day.
Move your body
It’s easy to forget the power of movement. Our bodies are made to move; when we don’t, they get tight and achy and energy builds up that hasn’t had enough opportunity to be expelled. Studies show that there is a link between our physical and mental health, so when we exercise on a regular basis, it actually supports our cognitive and emotional wellbeing, too.
Go for a walk, dance around your bedroom, do some yoga ─ it doesn’t matter what it is as long as you are moving your body and getting your heart rate up. Soak up the feeling of being alive!
As creatives, art has a way of stirring something inside of us and making us feel connected to our humanness. Have you been spending more time creating art than consuming it? Make sure you’re making time to enjoy other people’s creations so you are experiencing the gift of art on the receiving end, too.
This could be making time to read, watching a movie, going to a museum, trying a delicious new cuisine from a local chef, listening to new music, or exploring artwork and photography on the internet. The world is your oyster.
Make time to socialize
Writing can be a very isolating vocation, as can many other creative activities. Before you know it, socialization can become something you don’t even think about because you’re so used to being alone. While this definitely has its benefits, we are social creatures by nature. We’re not meant to be completely isolated from the rest of the world.
Being around other people’s (supportive and positive) energy, even for short periods of time, can benefit us in myriad ways. Think about how refreshed you feel when you spend time with someone you truly connect with. This doesn’t even have to be in person ─ schedule video chats with friends, join online communities of like-minded people, and make it a point to set aside time for the people you care about, for your sake and theirs.
Organize and declutter
Our environment has an impact on how we feel, so taking care of your surroundings is also a way of taking care of yourself. Go on a decluttering spree; get rid of any files, clothes, kitchenware, toiletries, and other items that you no longer want or need and donate, sell, or throw them away.
Doing this clears not only clears your physical space for things that feel aligned with who you are and the daily lifestyle you want to experience, but it also clears up mental space. You should do a digital cleanse, too; organize the files on your computer, delete emails you don’t need, and clean out our camera roll.