Art as Self-care

I had one of those human moments at work yesterday.  Moments where you come into contact with just how small and finite you are.

I was attempting to plan an event for December and an overwhelming sense of there-are-way-too-many-details-for-one-small-person-to-coordinate-I can’t-possibly-be-responsible-for this! quickly swept over me by 10am.   I realized at that moment that I was on a one way road to burn out.

It was a scary moment because I am only in the 2nd week of my new position!

Right.  I know I need to do this thing called self-care, but my usual strategies just don’t cut it.

Usually I go for chocolate, a nice coffee, or shopping at the local art store to buy some small (ridiculously expensive) item for a new art project.

But these are just quick remedies.  The sense of being overwhelmed requires a much more profound self-care strategy than merely distractions.

What is required is a complete mental break from whatever has overwhelmed the mind.

I went home, and began work on my staccato bowing techniques.  45 minutes quickly passed.  I reengaged work able to tackle the rest of challenges the day threw at me.

Really?  That is the secret to self care?  Bowing techniques?  Well… no.  The secret is allowing the mind to move from the problem at hand to a mindful focus on something else.

Feeling the propensity towards making my work role a master status, I took out my violin to remind myself that life is beyond the work week.

The creative process, not just the outcome, is transforming.  It takes me beyond the present, and into another world.  Indeed art making takes me “beyond myself” but only because I have made myself too small.  I have relegated my life to too small a time and space, and in that moment of overwhelmed-ness, forgotten the bigger picture.

If I let my mind take hold of the creative process, whether practicing my violin, painting a picture, knitting, beading, doing photography, or even cooking (if I admit it)–anything where I engage my mind in the sense world around me, it grounds me back into reality.

While making art I feel myself resurface, able to ride the waves of life.


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