I love to write. I’ve done it since I was able to, and I haven’t really stopped since. Journaling, essays, long Instagram captions, random to-do lists — you name it, and I’ve probably gone through (or am still going through) a phase of absolutely loving it and doing it as an emotional outlet. These days I still love it, but it’s also my job. And it’s true what they say: doing what you love for money is truly the absolute best way to live. And it’s a privilege. But when something you love also becomes your livelihood, lines can get easily blurred. Sometimes it means taking on projects that you’re not particularly passionate about, or working too much — convincing yourself that it’s because you love it, when really you just need a break.
So how do you make room for self-care in all of that? How do you set aside time to breathe and create and exist outside of your work? I won’t say it’s easy, but it’s certainly possible.
There is nothing — and I mean nothing — that has made a difference in the quality of my mental health like taking daily walks outside or even sitting outside while working has. Sometimes the greatest things you can do for your mental health don’t have to be stopping work entirely. Even just changing my environment (and getting some sun — with SPF, of course) while doing work has made me feel refreshed, renewed, and energized.
Do “boring” work
If your creative outlet is your work, it’s easy to then convince yourself that all work has to be incredibly meaningful to you. It’s easy to feel like every piece of work or everything you create has to be life-changing. But it doesn’t. Incorporating tasks and projects that are more “boring” allows yourself to give your creative brain a rest. Sometimes it’s even a challenge for your brain. If you’re used to doing something more creative, maybe doing something more mechanical or technical will ultimately be good for your brain and spark creativity later. Sometimes work can just be work. And incorporating “boring” tasks is a good way to remind yourself of this, and to give your creative brain a much-needed breather.
Find a hobby you enjoy that you’re not great at
There’s a false narrative these days that we have to be amazing at everything. We have to be the best marathon runners and the best poetry writers and award-winning painters. But what if we celebrated just being average at something? You don’t have to be amazing at something to enjoy it, and finding a hobby that you’re just average at (but enjoy thoroughly) is a great way to take a break from your work, especially if it’s your passion. Take up a foreign language class for fun. Learn to cook something mundane. Take up jogging even if you mostly just walk (that’d be me). Not everything we do has to be something we’re excelling in. Sometimes we can just do things, enjoy them, and that’s enough. When you’re a creative who makes money from their work, this is important to remember.