The Witch's Book of Self-Care: Magical Ways to Pamper, Soothe, and Care for Your Body and Spirit - Arin Murphy-Hiscock 2018
Creative self-care absolutely falls under spiritual self-care because it helps nurture something ineffable. Spiritual balance means being in harmony with your spirit and the energy of the world at large. When you work on deepening and broadening your spiritual connection to the universe, then you’ll find your creativity responding as well.
Creative self-care isn’t about how unique or original your self-care methods are. It’s about feeding your soul. It’s what gives you joy, creates excitement, gives you a place to take risks and nurture passion again. This is the area to explore if you feel dull and uninterested and need a way to boost yourself in general. Creative self-care encourages you to give your inner self attention and an outlet and encourages a positive attitude.
Taking breaks and allowing yourself to play and explore other methods of being productive and creative without a deadline or an imposed context is a valuable way to refresh your outlook and sense of capability. It may seem counterintuitive to take a break from your to-do list to engage in something unconnected, like drawing, coloring, or knitting, but creative projects tend to use a different part of your brain, which gives the overworked parts time to breathe. Disengaging from your work can paradoxically make you more productive.
Remember, spirituality isn’t religion. You can be deeply spiritual (and creative) without following a prescribed religious path.
Working to express your creativity supports your spiritual journey in turn. The two are partners. The concept of expression is key to both creativity and spirituality. Creative expression allows you to explore and express what is in your heart and mind, to work out how you feel; it is an outlet for emotion and an opportunity to allow your subconscious to unpack complicated issues.
Working with Your Hands
Does creative expression mean every time you doodle or arrange flowers for a centerpiece you’re undergoing a deep examination of some sort of thorny, complex issue? Of course not. Sometimes it just brings pleasure to engage in something creative. And remember, self-care is about joy and pleasure. It’s about being happy in yourself and being in the moment. Creative pastimes can bring you just that.
It’s good to disengage by focusing on something in your hands. Crafting or fixing something is a microcosm of larger issues at work or in life. You can complete a project and feel satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. That goes a long way to filling your need for pride in your achievements, the emotional rush of success and satisfaction at completing something. There is a sense of satisfaction associated with working with your hands that is hard to get from purely intellectual problem-solving. They are like two sides of a coin. If you’ve wondered about the resurgence in knitting or sewing or in painting nights, the rediscovery of purely creative handcrafts is related to the need to work with your hands and focus on a project unconnected to your daily job. Hands-on creative projects offer you the chance to disconnect from stressful daily activity.
If you work in a field where creativity is a main part of your job, you know how difficult it is to be creative all the time. It’s vital that you fill your own creative well in order to be able to draw from it. Read books, bake bread, garden, look out the window, go for walks… Disengage from your main creative job in order to give your creative mind a rest and allow it to recover.
It’s pretty blithe to tell someone “You should make art” when they’re looking for self-care ideas. That’s because it’s not particularly helpful to suggest something so vague. It’s more accurate to frame it as using hands-on creative techniques to help disengage the busy mind and to aid in focusing on the moment.
Mindfulness helps you relax and enjoy the process of being creative, rather than focusing on a product or goal. Products and goals are fine, but they’re not the whole point of the activity.
Mindfulness, as defined earlier, is allowing yourself to be present in the moment, giving what you’re doing your relaxed attention. “Making art” is one of those things that encourages mindfulness. Anything that involves using your hands to create something while disengaging you from the “hamster wheel” in your brain can qualify. Feel like working through a paint-by-numbers canvas? Want to paint something at a ceramics café? Is there a coloring book and a set of fine-tipped markers you’ve been eyeing? Scrapbooking? Stamp art? Photography? Go for it!
One of the most important rules of creative work is to not allow negative self-talk. Sure, you can identify weak areas and work to improve them—challenging yourself is a great way to grow—but don’t engage in negative self-talk. Negative self-criticism is the opposite of constructive. It’s destructive, which undermines self-care. If you tend toward negative self-talk (This is stupid; I’m terrible at this; What I create will never be any good; What is even the point if I can’t do it right?), this is an area that you can use to practice countering your negativity with affirmations. Remember, nurturing your creative side is for spiritual self-care. If you are constantly down on yourself, you’re strangling your spiritual self-care!
If you are anxious or afraid of creating, your mind will do anything it can to avoid it: cleaning the fridge, checking email, washing your hair, scrubbing the bathroom floor… In other words, you’ll self-sabotage your own relaxation and exploration of your creativity. If you have to, set a timer and focus on whatever creative expression you’ve chosen to engage in for 20 or 15 minutes without stopping.
Take a Class
Honor yourself and your need for creative self-care by taking a class and learning something new. While an actual physical class somewhere would also serve to get you out of the house for something other than work or school, it isn’t always possible. Fortunately, the Internet provides innumerable course opportunities, most allowing you to pursue bite-sized lessons in a larger area on your own schedule. Websites such as Craftsy (www.craftsy.com) or Skillshare (www.skillshare.com) offer low-cost creative courses in a variety of areas—woodworking, baking, sewing, watercolor, calligraphy, fiber arts, and more. Check them out. Most ask you to create an account, even if the lessons you’re interested in are free; the account allows you access to site-only features. Most of these sites run specials semifrequently, so sign up for their newsletters to keep abreast of sales.