As a creative, being healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally is one of the most important, yet easily overlooked goals. People who work in creative roles are subjected to lots of stress, abnormal schedules, anxieties, and unhealthy options.
“Health” covers a wide range of wellbeing categories, and while I’m not an expert in these fields, here are some things that have been helpful in my journey of working and staying healthy in the creative field.
Mental health is an incredibly complex issue that can easily derail your work, goals, and ambitions. Anxiety, stress, and depression can affect anyone and the challenges of running your own business can bring those on easily. Personally, the slow-season is one of those times that I have to be extra vigilant to be mindful of these. I’m not a psychologist in the least bit, but here are a few things I do to stay mentally healthy:
Mindfulness - The quickest way for me to get stressed out with work is jumping into it headlong first thing in the morning. I have to resist the urge to check email when I get out of bed. There are few things that derail your mind more than a demanding client email or unexpected to-do. Instead, I take time to eat breakfast, have some quite time, and then start planning out my day. Taking time to let your mind be quiet for a while, read or pray, and then start planning your day can be so freeing.
Technology & Social Media - Another thing to consider is screen-time. How much time do you spend starting at your phone? For me social media can be something that sucks me in for stupid amounts of time. While it can help provide an escape from thinking about the things that are stressful, it also robs your mind of time to actually think, process, and even be creative. Sometimes when I’m driving home, I’ll turn off the radio and just deal with the silence for my half-hour commute, letting my mind wander and think. Some of my best ideas have come from doing this.
Take breaks throughout your day - Our brains are wired where we need to take time to let our brains disengage every 50-90 minutes. The ideal time is around 15 minutes, but can vary for each person. There’s a ton of research and techniques out there, like Pomodoro, to help maximize your ability to focus and get things done. Check out these ideas from INC.
Defining Success - It can be so easy as a creative to define yourself by your success, passions, or goals. When things are good, you feel great. But when you have an upset client, slow seasons, or some other disappointment, everything can come crashing down around you. Consider where you place your self-worth and fight the urge to define yourself by your work.
Maintain healthy relationships - Isolation is a big challenge a lot of creatives face. Especially if you’ve jumped from an office environment to working solo, it can be really jarring and leave you feeling lonely and depressed. Make sure you’re maintaining healthy friendships and consistently spend time with other people.
Ask for Help - Finally, mental health often goes deeper than daily circumstances and can be incredibly complex. Share your wins, fears, and struggles with friends or family. And don’t be afraid to ask for help or go to counseling, which can be incredibly helpful.
Skipping out on physical health in exchange for working more, activities, or other pleasures is a sure way to set yourself up for pain later. Exercise is incredibly important for maintaining long-term health and fending off disease, as well as tons of present day benefits!
Being Physically Healthy - Physical exercise helps you lose or maintain a healthy weight, promotes mental health, increased energy, and reduced risk of cancer and other health effects. This doesn’t mean you have to become a tri-athlete though. Find a workout plan that works for you and stick to being active at least 150 minutes a week .
For me, my biggest barrier was my dislike for running and general cluelessness on what to do in the gym. I trained for a couple half-marathons last year, but after completing them I fell off the health bandwagon pretty quickly. Earlier this year, I decided to get on top of my health again. I use an app called GymBuddy to coach me through routines in the gym and then run twice a week. Getting to they gym is something that takes commitment and pushing through the days when it’s inconvenient. That includes staying committed to working out or finding ways to stay active when traveling too.
Now, all this is great, but you can’t forget about what you’re eating. I work out of a co-working space that’s chock full of snacks. I have to be really intentional not to be “grazing” all day, especially when I’m stressed. Choosing healthy meals and preparing them in advance is also super important. My biggest challenge is eating well when traveling. The most convenient and accessible food choices are all fast food, and my personal struggle is with resisting Chick Fil A. That said, some fast-food chains offer healthy options, but I try to be mindful about choosing healthier restaurants, even if it’s a little out of the way.