Creatives are interesting, in that by making things they’re passionate about for a living, they open themselves to criticism, stress and burnout, and at the same time, are often very committed to still having a whole and fulfilling life. Unfortunately, this often means that their wellbeing becomes compromised in the process.
But that doesn’t mean it’s okay, nor is it any way necessary to continue to have a career that you love. The truth is that it is absolutely possible to balance a great quality of life with your creative profession, and here’s a debriefer to tell you how.
Admit the struggle
It’s okay to admit that you’ve compromised your wellbeing for your creativity. It’s not okay to let it be and not change. Every creative, whether they realize it or not, has experienced it.
Improving your creativity’s relationship with wellbeing begins by recognizing the signs. It’s similar to burnout. Are you discouraged with your work? Do you focus on Twitter’s feedback before appreciating your skills on your own? Are you consistently stressed and unsure of how to stop the cycle?
In the most empathetic way possible, because I’ve been there, your wellbeing has been compromised. But it’s going to be okay. Once you realize it and admit that your priorities aren’t where they should be, it’s time to find a way to improve it.
Define your own sense of wellbeing
Everyone has their own sense of wellbeing, but it typically lies in four key areas:
- Mentally strong
- Physically healthy
- Maintaining boundaries
- Cultivating community
Mentally strong people own their wellbeing and take responsibility for making it better. They know what does and doesn’t work for them, and they’re respectful in communicating it. Living a mentally strong life is also knowing when to ask for help. Opening up to friends is good. Seeing a therapist is good. Vulnerability leads to growth.
Physically healthy people are aware of what makes them feel strong and healthy, from food to workouts, and commits to habits that support those choices. It could be an hour at the gym, but it could also be hikes, yoga, pilates, or any other activity.
Maintaining boundaries is one where creatives tend to compromise their wellbeing most. This is particularly true for Enneagram 2s, who are Helpers. Removing your boundaries doesn’t help you long-term, though. In order to continue helping others in your professional and personal spheres, we need to keep our boundaries.
Cultivating community is important for everyone, but I’d argue it’s essential for creatives. We tend to get immersed in our own work and forget to get perspective on what really matters. A creative community will help you solve this. It can be an informal meetup with friends, or an organized event like CreativeMornings, and should be a regular part of your life.
Recognize the signs of burnout
Detaching your creativity from your wellbeing is an ongoing process. One week it may be easy, and the next will be a slide back into old habits. Learn to recognize this by monitoring your thoughts, actions, emotions, and habits.
If your inner monologue begins to say, “what will they think,” or, “but Random Tweeter said this,” then you’ve slipped. Realign your thoughts with what your own sense of wellbeing is, and ask a friend to keep you accountable. This isn’t a linear process, but with time and effort, it will begin to improve.
Creatives have what can only be described as a weird and incredible career. The highs are remarkable, and the lows are some of the most painful times in life. Once we commit to never compromising our wellbeing for our work though, we’ll begin to focus on what truly matters: creating work that connects people with ideas and company visions with results.