Editor’s note: This post was first published last spring. Learning proper self-care for the busy creative is an ongoing challenge, so I thought I would share this one with you all again!
The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time, sings James Taylor.
How right he is. I really love this song; it soothes me like a lullaby at times when I feel overwhelmed and my life is charged with strife and tension.
Maybe I should correct what I’m saying: when I allow myself to get overwhelmed when hardship and stressful circumstances challenge me in my life.
Gentle is as gentle does.
Be a kind friend to yourself and actually act upon the advice you read about and often give to other frazzled people in your sphere of influence.
As you encourage others to practice good self-care, realize it’s just as applicable for you too. Don’t just hastily shove the idea in the back of your mind with: This sounds really good and I’ll get right to that as a priority as soon as I/as soon as this…
Go easier on yourself today, in the midst of the storm.
I dare you to test this theory out: Make the time (let’s say 1 hour) to do something that is truly relaxing and something you want to do (housework doesn’t count!). I bet you’ll discover that you’ll accomplish way more than if you didn’t take the break. You might even be surprised and manage to get ALL of the ‘urgent’ stuff done.
Have you ever experienced that in your day? Think of it as some kind of magical redemption of time. Or what you believed was urgent turns out to be something you can put off to the next day without the world coming to an end. And so it goes.
Case in point: I’ve been neglecting my writing and creative practice time lately. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been stressing and working long hours on a huge website project I have to finish on deadline for a client.
I’ve also been distracted over the past week dealing with (yet another) family emergency and it’s been difficult to stay focused and soldier on with my hectic work schedule. I’ll be honest, this one is a bit of a heartbreaking situation and I’m sick with worry about all the consequences we as a family will now have to endure. I’m pretty much exhausted at this point – emotionally and physically.
This morning, a friend of mine posted this moving quote on Facebook:
Gentle change leads to permanent results. Don’t rush the changes you wish to see in your life, but gently make little tweaks of improvement. Very soon you’ll see life beginning to unfold with more ease, joy and glory. Be gentle. (source unknown)
I decided to follow this sage advice and my weary heart’s prompting and take the time for creative practice, for some writing.
I decided to do it right away, not put it at the bottom of my to do list as I regularly do.
Yes, I wrestled with myself for several minutes, but managed to push any anxiety aside that I should be working on that big website project for my client first and then when things let up, then I could take the time to write and develop creative projects.
This is how I put into practice what I preach, my fellow creative. I share this blog post with you all in the hopes that you will honor your own creative practice, and not let another day go by neglecting it.
You and I are relentless slave drivers with ourselves. It’s time to cut ourselves some slack. Really. Not just nod in agreement when your loved ones affectionately berate you for not doing so. Don’t just give them and yourself some vague promise to look after yourself at a later time, when things settle down.
Good intentions won’t change your life. Little steps will eventually yield big rewards.
Don’t you desire to have a life filled with more ease, joy and glory? I know that my heart and mind leapt with a ‘hell yes!’ when I read the gentleness quote (ok, it was more or a wistful ‘oh how I really wish it were possible’).
Imagine how it would feel if you took care of yourself enough, really made it a regular habit, to allow the peace, joy and glory to replenish and energize you instead of overworking, over-thinking yourself into exhaustion, time and time again?
Imagine how productive, imaginative and prolific our creative practice, our lives, would be!
Guess what I realized? I don’t have to settle for simply imagining the possibility, and neither do you.
You and I can decide, today, to regularly practice being gentle with ourselves and experience the wonderful unfolding firsthand. You and I can discover peace, joy, and creative productivity even in the chaos that swirls around us. You and I can also be more compassionate with others when we practice compassion on ourselves.
Gentle is as gentle does.
How do you – or would you – practice self-care and gentleness with yourself? Please feel free to share in the Comments section.