“Are you creating more than you consume?”
I wish I could remember where I read that question, but it did something to me and shifted my entire perspective. Chances are if you found this blog post you know a bit about me and my life, but in case you don’t: I’m the wife of a touring musician in Nashville, raising a two-year-old while trying to balance my freelance job as a social media manager.
I’ve really come to love our little life here in Nashville: it’s the first place we ever bought a home, where we had our son, and where we’ve made most of the other grown up decisions in life.
But with great adulting, comes great responsibility… to look after your play-life! At least for me lately, it’s how I’ve gotten through some of the more busy and overwhelming seasons of these last few years.
Especially if your job is creative, and especially, especially if you’re your own boss (or are freelance!) I’ve learned it’s so important to carve out space to invest time in yourself first.
I once took a class on managing your personal finances, and one of the first things they teach you is that no matter how little you might be making, it’s important to “pay yourself first” and put a chunk of your pay check directly into your savings— and work out the rest. By doing so, no matter how many annoying bills you have to pay or vacations you have to forego, you know you’re prioritizing yourself first even if it doesn’t look glamorous.
So I’ve started taking the same approach with my time. This is my life, my one life that I’m given. Why wouldn’t I take a small chunk of that time everyday to do something for me? I’m worth that and it’s up to me to be the gatekeeper of my own time. In some seasons that time has looked like reading a book, or working out.
In this season it’s looked like creating for pleasure. Instead of spending hours a day “scrolling for inspo” I’ve been actioning those ideas. There’s something freeing and inspiring about releasing the creative constraints on your mind and just MAKING things. I find it lets me return to my creative work for others with more passion, life and vision. Somedays it’s been painting, others it’s been baking, or making a latte, somedays it’s looked like taking photos or sketching.
So if you’re a busy, workaholic creative who hasn’t taken a moment to themselves in months, first of all FIX THAT! Second of all, — this blog is for you! These are ideas that are going to take an hour at most, in order of the ones that bring me the most joy.
I know what you’re thinking, I’m not an artist and guess what, neither am I. But just buying a few supplies, putting Danny down for a nap and painting has been one of the best things I’ve done in ages. Did you know that creating art has the same effect on your brain as meditation? Studies have shown painting in particular can lower your stress levels and reenergize your mind.
I think when you’re starting out it’s important to truly take the expectations off yourself. Don’t set out with the intention of making something for your home, don’t even tell yourself what it’s suppose to look like. Just do, without judgement or expectation. I find my mind wander to writing during these times, it always releases something in my creative self. Try it, you might love it!
I love baking because it’s so frivolous. No one has ever NEEDED a three tiered cake with buttercream frosting and decorated with malteesers, and yet sometimes I’ve needed to make one for that very reason. Who cares if it doesn’t turn out? Just allow yourself to get stuck into the process of MAKING something. And if it does turn out? Well then that’s okay too.
Again, the power of gardening is tremendous for your mental health. Depression can be so all-consuming and have you in a self-centered spiral (at least it does for me!) it is so good for our minds to engage in nurturing some other living thing. Getting soil on your hands and even just being barefoot in the ground can be so good for your body and soul. Just an hour a day can have a tremendous benefit for your mood and overall mental health!
Okay I know this can trigger some emotions for people, maybe you’re a stay-at-home parent who hates cooking. Maybe this one isn’t for you. Or maybe you take the pressure off yourself. Plan on ordering pizza if it doesn’t work out. Tell yourself it literally doesn’t matter, you’re just learning and exploring. You’re doing the very thing you were told not to do as a kid— you’re playing food! Who cares? You’re the adult now and get to call the shots.
I recommend picking something that can be done in an hour— or assembled and thrown into a crockpot within an hour. I know it might sound wasteful, but the chances of it being inedible are so slim, and if it brings you joy I truly believe it won’t have been a waste.
These are just four examples of ways you can make room for playful creativity in your life. I didn’t list anything to do with writing or crafting here, mostly because I’ve never really found a way of crafting that hasn’t been stressful for me, and writing is my job. But if you’ve got other ideas you think I should try let me know if the comments below! I want to make things with you!