As creatives, it seems we have to learn everything by trial and error. One area I am still exploring is taking care of myself. I've got the business thing down; I just need to learn when to take a break and not to not less the stress from the job I love get to me. It's a lesson I learn over and over again by employing different strategies each time.
Still recovering from the worst sinus infection ever, I have a natural curiosity to find out how to prevent this from happening again. With an innately weak immune system, I am susceptible to physical reactions from stress. Even though I exercise regularly, eat and sleep well--and take time to relax--I still managed to get sick this week. I have been working super hard and dealing with the frustration that comes with trying to buy a house. The emotions related to both are so deeply wound inside that it seems only logical they would manifest physically into a sinus infection. The mother of all sinus infections.
Whatever the reason, I know many creative freelancers experience stress, which can cause physical illnesses. That's why I think many of us can benefit from some tips on self-care with regard to managing a creative business. (Keep in mind, I am no expert on this--as I said...I'm still learning myself!)
Stay organized. For me, having everything written down and separated into different notebooks, my planner and even a dry erase board helps. I know exactly what I need to do each day, and it helps from things floating around "upstairs. When you write it down, you release it. Trust that you'll get to all the work you need to when your lists are out there so you won't forget what has to get done.
Check in. During my workday, I try to remember to check in with myself. I rate my stress level, and if it is high I take a break. Another thing that works is giving myself a time limit to finish something. For example, I give myself an hour to work on Project A, and then I get to surf blogs or go for a workout afterwards. Having rewards has helped, as has setting limits. During that time I am working, I know I don't have to think about anything else...and if I do, I use the reward to keep myself on track.
I realize that you may not have a crummy sinus system. Or that soap operas may not be your cup of tea. But like I said, it is important to devise tactics to help you take care of yourself. Even if you don't get physically ill from stress, who wants to be miserable doing what they are meant to do? Not I! That's why I take steps to prevent burnout. One day, I'll perfect it and my doctor will be happy with me. As will my sinuses.
For now, I've only got 4 days left of antibiotics and plenty of Puffs tissues on my desk to get me through it. Oh yeah, and I've been working in bed...laptop in hand and Bobbie cat at my feet. Being sick may not be so bad after all. But I'd rather be better!
What self-care strategies work for you? Talk about it on the CSE Message Board under the "Self-Care Secrets" topic!
This article may be reproduced so long as Kristen Fischer's byline and the www.creativelyselfemployed.com link are included.
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