Take care of yourself
I've noticed a trend with artists: we're not so great at taking care of ourselves. We live for our craft and often don't pay that much attention to our physical selves while we're doing it. This can be especially true for those of us with less physically demanding creative endeavors, like musicians, visual artists, and writers. (I know I'm usually more interested in having a beer and playing my piano than going for a run.) Conversely, dancers, acrobats, actors, and other physical artists might push themselves too hard, sometimes to the point of injury. Many of us start to feel mortality creeping in right around age 30. The invincibility of our teens and 20s behind us, we start feeling those late nights a little harder and our bodies start to ache a little longer, our friends have babies, and our parents and grandparents get sick. When you've been downing beers and pizza at rehearsal every night (or whiskey and...um...whiskey for the Hemingways), there is often a moment where you ask yourself: "Should I try to be healthier?"
A couple of months ago, my grandfather passed away. He was the sweetest, wisest, most understanding and open person I know. He was also a WWII veteran, an engineer, an artist, and a writer. Then, a couple of weeks ago, my therapist and mentor died after a 6 year battle with cancer. She left a huge imprint on the world as a helper, friend, and genuinely authentic person. These losses, coupled with friends and family members struggles with illnesses, really affected me. At 34, I'm starting to feel the spoils of my lifestyle which, while not terrible, could use some sprucing up in the health department. But it's hard. I have so much reading and thinking and writing and talking and performing to do. These things are much more exciting to me than my yoga practice or taking a walk. But I have to remember: I can't be a great counselor or artist if I don't feel good. I could for awhile, but eventually, it would catch up with me. It'll catch up with you, too.
Beyond the physical benefits, it could also help the creative process to take a break, move around, and do something new. Some of us act as if our bodies are separate from our minds, but let's be honest, it's all one. In fact, what's good for the heart is good for the brain, too.
Now, you're not stupid, so I'm not going to give you some list of stuff you can do to take care of yourself. You're an adult, you know how. The one less common piece of advice I will give is this: consider taking Vitamin D. Unless you're outside a lot, you're probably deficient. Vitamin D is good for all kinds of stuff, including energy and mood. Nothing is black and white, though, so I've provided you with a link to an article with experts who argue for and against supplementing Vitamin D, so you can make up your own mind.
Look, I know some of us aren't accustomed to being healthier, but try to remind yourself of this: Taking care of myself is not just good for my body, it's good for my art.
So when did you realize you had to start taking care of yourself? Got any brilliant ideas on how to combine art and health? Share in the comments below!