Self Care for Creative People

Sheila Chandra - Friday, January 03, 2020

It’s a new year – time to learn some good artist self-care habits that will sustain you behind the scenes. Start as you mean to go on!


Creative people need an individual approach to self-care

Being a creative person can be exhausting and draining without a self-care practise.We lead a life that is outside the norm with strange hours and working conditions. Things change quickly and each minute and each month is different. As a creative person, you’ll need a wealth of self-care resources and practises to draw from based on your own patterns and industry.

Start by assessing yourself and your working practices. Think about issues you’ve had in the past. Do you have trouble saying no? Do you work for long hours in the same position? Does your mind suffer first if you get stressed? Knowing your weaknesses and vulnerabilities helps you work out what you’ll need, spot common patterns and personalise your self-care practise. Write a list of your common stressors.

Self-care is preventative medicine for creative people

There’s a reason why self-care isn’t just a ‘frill’ that artists can cut back on. You are your most precious resource, because there’s never going to be another you to create your work and you can’t just buy a new young and fit body off the shelf.

Your body and mind are probably strong, but all creative people, including you, have their limits, and a self-care practise acts as a preventative measure. After all, you want to stay fit for a long and successful career – and you won’t always be young. So set some good habits in motion now. Your body will thank you for it.

For instance, can you get the same work done in 3 x 4 hour sessions instead of pulling all-nighter? Is the all-nighter worth it if you are wrecked for days afterwards? Self-care is often about making smart choices that prevent harm. Above all, never work if you think doing so will cause you permanent injury. Better to lose a client than your capacity to work.

For instance, can you get the same work done in 3 x 4 hour sessions instead of pulling all-nighter? Is the all-nighter worth it if you are wrecked for days afterwards? Self-care is often about making smart choices that prevent harm. Above all, never work if you think doing so will cause you permanent injury. Better to lose a client than your capacity to work.

Be creative with your self-care practises

Work out what self-care means for you. It could be walking, journaling, time alone, meditation, swimming, breathing techniques, coffee with a friend or reading fiction. What rejuvenates you? Look out for new ways that make you feel good and recharge your creative batteries. Do you work better when you take a break every 40 minutes? Does adjusting the light help you write for longer periods? Does listening to a soothing song before you perform help to calm your nerves? Notice what works for you. Ask other creative people what their self-care practises are. Be curious and observant.

Creative people’s bodies need self-care too

We use our bodies to paint, sing, dance, play instruments and create. Don’t endanger your body with excessive alcohol, drugs or extreme sports. Nourish yourself with food and take time to recover from illness. Get enough sleep. Exercise. Go outdoors. Wear protective gear (earplugs, masks) when needed. Is your working space ergonomic? Are you warm enough? Notice which parts of your body hurt after you’ve been working for hours. Self-care encompasses physical practises like adjusting your chair, doing regular stretches or regulating the room temperature. Be attentive and listen to your body.

If you’re young and male, I know that this advice is going to seem ‘soft’ – but take it from someone old (in your eyes anyway!). Those injuries and ways you neglect yourself are going to come back to haunt you sooner than you think. The body stops repairing itself after a while. And you don’t want to be bothered with limitations you didn’t need to have. So be efficient and start taking care of yourself. You’ve only got this one body to last you your whole lifetime!

Resting is part of self-care for creative people

Whether it’s resting your mind or your body - we all need “down time”. Many creative people are workaholics who are scared they’ll lose their magic if they stop. But tired brains are not terribly creative. In fact, a tired brain starts to stew in its own toxins. What if your magic improved after resting? Your state of mind can change drastically after a nap. Make a place by the window with some cushions to doze, or even read a book. Turn your phone to airplane mode. Put yourself into self-care mode and have a guilt-free rest.

How creative people manage self-care when they’re stressed

Being able to identify the source of the stress is incredibly useful. You’ll often have too much on your plate. Are you expecting too much of yourself? Is there an issue you’ve been avoiding dealing with? Are you overscheduled with work that isn’t that essential? Work out what the problem is. Then you can plan a long term strategy to deal with it. Make a list of which self-care practices work for you in particularly stressful situations. You’ll be grateful for that list during times when you are so stressed that you can’t even think. Or recruit a friend who can ‘prescribe’ you some rest when you’re too tired to work out what you need.

My book ‘Organizing Your Creative Career’ is full of ways to stay on top of your career while taking good care of yourself. A new revised print version is out on 14th January 2020.

Or if you need one-to-one advice, work with me via Skype. Email me at for a free 30 minute consultation to find out how I can help you.




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