Looking after # 1 in the creative industries

Hands up who prioritises self care in the often frantic world of the creative industries?

Too busy right?

It’s curious how many of us think self care is for other people. Not us.  Or we think it’s indulgent or fluffy.

This is how it often rolls. Something big is looming -  a tour, festival, album release, theatre production, event (conference, launch, awards night) or even a combination of these things at once. Ouch. Frantic deadlines become the all-consuming priority and self care is usually relegated to the bottom of the to-do list.  Something’s gotta give and it’s usually our physical and emotional wellbeing.

So we put off self care until the ‘thing’ has passed. And ironically, just as the deadline passes and we’re ready to re focus on self care, we get sick. As in can’t-get-out-of- bed sick because we’ve fried ourselves by working stupid hours and making some questionable choices in relation to food, alcohol and drugs. This all in an attempt to survive the ‘thing’.

Now we’re in a kind of self care deficit but we have to wait to recover from the flu virus that’s knocked us for six because we were so run down to begin with. Our bodies are pretty clever at making us slow down, sometimes quite forcefully.  And the reality for most of us is that we usually focus on self care when our body is literally screaming at us to do so.

What is self care anyway? It’s a set of practices or activities which a person “voluntarily tries to maintain or enhance physical and mental wellbeing”. These actions are intentional but the key word here is ‘voluntarily’. No-one else is going to manage your health and wellbeing for you. Your close friends and family care but usually, no-one else gives a shit! It’s all on us.

Some people think wellness is just the absence of illness. But wellness is so much more than that. It’s a holistic concept that encompasses the elements of social, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical environment and financial. If any of these elements are seriously out of whack, your wellbeing could be taking a hit.

Imagine these elements on a vinyl album. If you could honestly divide up the time you spend on each element you might see that your album is looking a bit warped.

Small regular self care practices can help.

I know. Right now you’re probably thinking…I can’t afford to do yoga, pilates, gym sessions, meditation retreats. I don’t have the time. I’ve got a ‘thing’ coming up and I’m just too busy. I’ll deal with this stuff later.

But often ‘later’ never happens. As with making time to get our BAS sorted, we keep putting off self care. Our powers of recovery after each tour, event or deadline diminishes each time and we don’t bounce back as quickly. Sleep is affected. We get sick more often and for longer periods and this affects productivity which can cause stress. And this can lead to an unpleasant visit from my old friend burnout (more on that thorny beast soon).

So instead of neglecting self care basics, what if we planned ahead for stressful times just like we meticulously plan for a tour or festival or conference or album release? As counter intuitive as it sounds, making MORE time for self care when you’re busy can pay big dividends at the other end.

So let’s start with the simple things that can be done daily to foster self care in the music community and beyond. These are practical things that cost little or next to nothing:

-       Stop to eat away from your desk at work. If you work in an office environment eat with colleagues away from your work space. During that time, make an effort NOT to talk about work (or the ‘thing’). Make it a set timeframe (even 10 minutes) and keep it social. Better still step outside of your office environment altogether.

-       Buddy up with a kindred spirit in the workplace to make the above happen. Having a buddy on board will create some accountability.

-       Speaking of lunch, have a think about what you’re eating. Is it take away every day?

-       Seems obvious but are you drinking enough water?

-       Can you walk to work or part of the way each day?

-       Have clear boundaries around your work start and finish times. When does your work day end? Does it actually end or just blur into home life where you’re still answering emails on your phone while simultaneously trying to watch Vinyl on Netflix?

-       Learn to mono task! You’ll get more done (more on this soon)

-       Limit screen time at home. Make a plan and stick to it.

-       Learn how to say NO and stick to it.

-       Sort out your admin and if you need to, consider outsourcing to someone who can help you.

-       Commit to one bigger thing each week that makes you feel really good. An exercise class, learning something new, time spent with loved ones.

-       Listen to music, not the music you’ve made or the music you’re promoting as part of your job. Listen to music for the no-strings-attached love of it.

-       Step outside in the sunshine. See friends. Be creative. Have fun.

Now go deeper.

-       Be clear about stress. Understand your triggers.

-       How are you perceiving and managing stress? If you’re constantly sweating the small stuff you might need some help with managing and reframing stress.

-       Don’t forget about emotional self care. Are you a chronic people pleaser? Are you surrounded by toxic vampires who rob you of joy?

-       If you’re constantly putting off basic self care, ask yourself what’s really stopping you? Is it guilt?

With your next ‘thing’ looming really reflect on how you will you function productively if you don’t have some basic self care strategies in place. Will you still have energy for loved ones and or children at the end of the day? Will you have any energy at all?

There’s a weird guilt that can often be associated with taking time off to look after ourselves. So let’s reframe that. Instead of thinking of self care as a reward, try to think of it as as essential part of being human and build it into your life. Ditch the guilt! Just like the hours spent playing your favourite Radiohead album on repeat, self care is never a waste of time. You’ll have more energy and will be more productive. Chances are you’ll feel happier too.  And that’s a win-win for everyone J

Thanks for reading

Coach Viv

Viv Fantin is a certified, accredited coach at Next Act Coaching. If you’re interested to learn more about how coaching can help you set clear, achievable goals, manage stress, and sort through work-life balance along with many other issues please contact Viv on viv@nextactcoaching.com.au or Ph 02 6687 1965. Check out www.nextactcoaching.com.au for more info.