There is a Chinese curse which says “May you live in interesting times.” Like it or not, we live in interesting times. The year 2020 starts with divisive politics, gun violence, international security threats and a planet in environmental peril. Plus all the reasons we're stressed individually: work, health problems, life changes and more.
According to Gallup’s 2019 data on emotional states, Americans are among the most stressed
out populations in the world. Fifty-five percent of the American population reports experiencing stress during the day-every day. Instead of the traditional discussion of New Years resolutions, these are four ideas to help us create an environment that enhances our creativity.
Don't Be Overwhelmed by Social Media:
As artists we are constantly told that social media is extraordinarily important to our success but many find it overwhelming. Ideally, you want to be able to enjoy social media for entertainment, socializing, and professional development on your own terms. If you are feeling overwhelmed try these changes:
Turn off social media notifcations on your phone
Take a month long social media break using that time to connect with work, family and friends. You can still be found by phone or email.
Focus your social media attention on people you want to be entertained by or really like.
Share your art because you are ready to have it seen by others not because you have been told to post everyday.
This does not require an all or nothing approach, just small changes to create boundaries between work and life, exposure and intimacy.
Bring more kindness into the world:
Studies have shown that kindness and generosity are not only great for our health, they're contagious and self perpetuating. Kindness has a multiplying effect and therefore makes a simple act of holding the door for someone much more powerful than you initially might think.
Being kind also has long-term effects. Researchers found that individuals who had given a gift experienced happiness when remembering their past act of kindness. They were more likely to be even more generous in the future. The relationship between a kind act, happiness, and future acts of kindness is called a “positive feedback loop” by researchers.
Practicing kindness is shown to have a wealth of health-related benefits, according to Dartmouth College. Being kind also releases serotonin in your brain which is also linked to boosting your mood and calming negative feelings. The hormone oxytocin, which lowers your heart rate and increases self-esteem, is also released. An interesting statistic is that people who volunteer regularly tend to be healthier and tend to live longer than those who don’t. Researchers found that the effect of volunteering was stronger even than exercising four times a week when it comes to increased lifespan. It has also been found to reduce the overall effects of stress.
Invest in your health:
Being an active partner in your health maximizes your chances of living a healthy and productive life.
Get daily physical activity
Make healthy food and drink choices
Keep a healthy weight
Have routine preventive care
Know your health numbers
Get good quality sleep
Ask for Help:
Perhaps the hardest thing is letting go control of any aspect of your business by delegating to someone else. As artists, we often have to figure out how to do everything on our own. After a while, it becomes a way of life and we feel pretty good about the fact that we can do so much by ourselves. Ultimately, however, our self-reliance can become a hindrance to our long-term success.
Yes, you can do your own bookkeeping and taxes, and yes, you can ship your own art, and yes, you can clean the bathroom, but is doing these things the best use of your limited time? A week consists of 168 hours and every minute you spend on one task is a minute you can't spend on another.
You might say "I'm a starving artist, I can't hire anyone." Indeed, you may not be able to hire someone to work full-time for you, but if you can simply farm out some of the more basic parts of your business, you will find you have more time to create. Consider having a bookkeeper take over your day-to-day financial record keeping. Hire an art-student to come into your studio weekly to organize and clean the studio and catalog your artwork. Have your spouse or kid take over your website maintenance. Any time saved is more time for creativity.
Wishing everyone a very happy, creative and prosperous 2020