Who has enough time for everything in their lives? Not me! You might not realize how important it is to take care of yourself artistically, though. All to often, art and creativity get cut first when budgets shrink and deadlines loom.
Thousands of Hummingbirds
“Look at this one,” I exclaimed to Pedro.
“One of the pretty ones,” he said with a nod. “When did you take this one?”
“Today,” I told him. “What do you think of the background?”
“I like the dramatic black,” he told me. “But I’m curious,” he asked. “How many photos of hummingbirds do you think you have?”
“Ummm, thousands? Maybe more,” I shrugged. “But I think I’m getting better at photographing them every year.”
He shook his head in disbelief. “How many hours does it take you to get one you consider really good?”
“It depends on how many hummers come to the feeders, how much they fight, and the lighting,” I said. “But I get a near-perfect or perfect shot every hour or so.”
His phone rang before he could respond, and I scrolled through the photos on my computer again. Each photo brought a smile to my face. No matter the time it took to get the perfect photo, I knew every second, hour, and minute was worth it. Especially this week.
Thin Places and Artistic Self-Care
It’s been a thin week for me. Pedro’s mom passed away unexpectedly a week ago, and we’ve scarcely had time to grieve. The next day, I woke up at 2 a.m. to pick our oldest daughter up at the airport three hours away. In the afternoon, Pedro and his dad drove to a different city to pick up his brother and sister-in-law.
On Monday, Pedro and I had a full day of meetings—meetings neither of us could miss. In the afternoon, our youngest daughter and her husband arrived. The chaos of company, family decisions, grief, and a new school year swirled around me.
Every opportunity I had, I would stand at the sliding glass door with my camera and snap a few photos of the hummingbirds. Checking camera settings, changing the ISO or the shutter speed, or laughing at the antics of the males helped me forget the sadness and the burdens—even if only for a few minutes.
Years ago, I would have denied myself snippets of time for creativity during a crisis. But I’ve learned the importance of artistic self-care Even when life presses in and deadlines loom, you deserve to take care of yourself by spending time in creative pursuits.
Each of us deserves to spend time on artistic self-care. If you need more convincing, check out these four reasons you deserve to take care of yourself artistically.
1. Creativity Helps You Heal
You may have heard of flow before—some people describe it as the subliminal place where time seems to stop as you work to create something. Gioia Chilton, in an article for Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, says that “In flow, people are often so engrossed that they are not aware of their emotional state until the activity is almost complete and positive feelings such as joy or pride emerge.”
Art (and I don’t mean just painting or drawing, but rather any creative expression) acts as a powerful medium through which we can experience positive emotions that we then store up. We can access those positive emotions during times of stress. I used photographing hummingbirds to help me process and heal—even during a super-stressful week.
When I look at the photos I took this week, I’ll have joyful memories mingling with the sadness of a tough time.
Chilton goes on to say, “The execution of artistic behavior provides access to information that the brain retains but which cannot come to consciousness any other way.” The success of art therapy proves the power of art to heal.
2. Creative Pursuits Help Improve Your Mood
The BBC surveyed over 50,000 people to find out how creativity impacted the participant’s lives. The results show even one session of creative engagement can boost a person’s mood. Creative activities can serve as a distraction, helping people refocus their minds from problems and relieving mental stress. Artistic endeavors help people build up their self-esteem and inner strength, too.
3. Artistic Pursuits May Boost Your Immune System
One study showed the benefits of journaling for patients undergoing treatment for HIV, and another chronicled the improved health of breast cancer survivors who danced. The Bible says in Proverbs 17:22 that a cheerful heart is good medicine. And taking care of yourself artistically will improve your mood. So it only stands to reason your immune system will experience a boost as well.
Creativity Promotes Thinking and Problem-Solving
Businesses have discovered the benefits of encouraging their employees to take creativity breaks throughout the day. Taking a focused break to listen to music, doodle, journal, or craft a poem helps refresh workers enough so they feel more productive when focusing on work.
Next time you can’t figure something out, try dancing to your favorite tune, putting together a puzzle, or experimenting with a new recipe. Once you’ve had a break, return to the problem with a clear head and new perspective.
4. You Were Created to Create
God created us in his image, therefore, we all have creativity built right in. Don’t mistake talent for creativity. Some people (not me) can sit at the piano and beautiful music issues from their fingertips. Other people (not me) can use a pencil and paper to recreate a person or an animal. Those people have talent.
But we all have creativity. Problem solving, cooking, baking, sewing, welding, fixing things, doodling, photographing flowers, or knitting all take creativity. We deserve to let our creativity flow every day. And if not every day, at least once a week.
If you feel something missing from your life, maybe you’ve unconsciously excised creativity from your schedule. Take time to write down creative endeavors you enjoy. How much time do you spend doing those things each week?
What have you given up because of parenting responsibilities, work, or other obligations? What creative pursuits could you fit back in at this season of life? It took me ten years to finish a quilt during the intense years of parenting youngsters. But with an empty nest, I have more time to exercise my creativity.
I’ve also discovered ways to cut back on non-essential obligations. If you feel stretched thin, perhaps you have a hard time saying ‘No’ to other people. I’ve had times in my life when I cut out all forms of self-care because I thought I needed to spend all my time doing things for other people. But even Jesus withdrew to quiet places alone.Four reasons you deserve to take care of yourself artistically (yes, artistic self-care is a thing!). #SelfCareSunday #selfcare #creativity Click To Tweet
You deserve to take care of yourself artistically during every season of life. Balanced self-care allows you to serve others better, remain present in the important moments, and live a longer, happier life.
What is your favorite way to take care of yourself artistically?