A career as an independent artist can be an enriching experience. You get to make a living through activities you’re passionate about. However, it’s important to recognize how much your wellness can impact your ability to thrive in this field.
Certainly, there’s a lot of focus on how mental health is impacted by artistic endeavors. But what about your physical well-being? Well, it’s vital to recognize that art of any kind can be as much a physical activity as a cognitive one. Keeping your body healthy supports your ability to create your best work.
Let’s dive deeper into prioritizing your physical wellness as an independent artist.
The first step to take is to simply recognize that sacrificing your physical wellness isn’t a given to have a successful art career. One of the most toxic tropes surrounding creativity is that artists should suffer in the course of their work. This is, of course, nonsense and you need to both internally and externally crush this stereotype.
Let’s face it, the “tortured artist” lifestyle isn’t actually conducive to making great art. The more difficulty you have remaining well, the more difficult it can be to maintain your art practice. Poor physical wellness also adds stress to your experience, which can disrupt your flow and derail your creative ideation process. This doesn’t mean you can’t perform if you live with a disability or a chronic illness. But ensuring you are as physically healthy as possible minimizes unnecessary hurdles.
It’s also worth considering that unless you prioritize your physical health, you may have difficulty navigating the creative industry as a professional. Particularly if you’re working with corporate clients, there will be certain expectations about productivity and scheduling. The last thing you want is for poor physical health to leave you more susceptible to illnesses that regularly prevent you from engaging fully.
One of the main ways to prioritize your physical wellness as an artist is to maintain regular physical activity. Living a sedentary lifestyle is a common cause of various cardiovascular and circulatory health issues. Indeed, alongside other lifestyle elements, sitting or standing for too long can increase your risk of varicose veins. This can also result in related symptoms of cramping, increased pain, and swollen feet. Maintaining regular exercise and avoiding staying in a single position can help reduce your potential to experience these conditions.
You should, therefore, commit to incorporating physical exercise into your day. It’s worth scheduling this as you would any other aspect of your art practice, as it is easy to overlook exercise or become demotivated. It is recommended that you get at least 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise. Take a walk, ride a bike, go to the gym, or do some yoga. This is not just important for your physical wellness but also your mental well-being.
Remember that being active is also about simply changing your position throughout the day. Be sure to take regular breaks if you’re sitting or standing while you create for long periods. Indeed, it is recommended that you don’t sit for longer than 30 minutes. Switch off between sitting and standing every half hour or so wherever possible.
Your working space has the ability to greatly impact your physical wellness. One of your priorities here is to design your surroundings in a way that is most supportive. This doesn’t usually require a complete rehaul of your space, a few simple steps can be effective.
Ensure your studio has as much natural light as you can let in. Keep curtains open and arrange the layout of your furniture to ensure you get the maximum possible exposure throughout the day. This not only saves on electricity, it can also improve your mood. You’ll also find you gain more vitamin D, which is linked to bolstering the immune system, maintaining healthy bones, and reducing cognitive decline.
Make sure your desk or easel set-up supports good posture, too. When you’re hunched over a desk all day, you’re not just at risk of joint and back pain. Your posture can impact your health by putting pressure on your organs, leading to digestive issues like acid reflux. If it’s within your budget, have both sitting and standing desks at your disposal. Your chair and desk should be positioned so you can have your feet flat on the floor and your back fully supported by your chair’s backrest.
As an artist, you know how easy it is to become engulfed by your work. Either you get into a flow state or you’re caught chasing a deadline. Not to mention that the feast-or-famine nature of freelance life can make it feel as though you have to take as much work as is available when you’re offered it. Unfortunately, this tends to be a recipe for overwork, which isn’t conducive to prioritizing your physical health.
Overwork tends to lead to burnout. Not to mention that the stress of the situation can put additional pressure on your cardiovascular health. You may even find that you’re skipping meals and sleeping less in order to attend to your work. This is hazardous to your well-being in both the short and long term.
It’s important to remember that becoming sick from overwork tends to lead to you being unable to work. As such, the logic to overload on projects to mitigate uncertainty is negated by the potential to lose work later on. Not to mention that you’re likely to find less joy or satisfaction in the art form you’re passionate about.
Supporting Your Nutrition
Eating and drinking well is an essential aspect of your physical wellness. Without balanced nutrition, you may be exposing yourself to illnesses through a compromised immune system. Not to mention, you’ll find you have less energy for work and personal activities. Yet, it’s not unusual for independent artists to overlook this element.
One of the most common contributory behaviors here is missing meals due to being focused on a project. It’s worth adopting some effective techniques for working from home that minimize the complications that may arise. This should include building food breaks into a predictable routine. This type of regularity can improve both physical and mental wellness. If you’re pushed for time, prepare your week’s nutritionally-balanced meals in advance and refrigerate them. This allows you to spend your allotted lunch break eating and relaxing rather than resorting to quick and unhealthy food.
It’s also best to limit your indulgences. As an artist, you may be invited to more galas or opening nights than most. These events tend to come with free food and alcohol that may affect your body negatively if you overindulge too often. That’s not to say you shouldn’t enjoy yourself. However, make sure you keep a healthy balance and a handle on your nutrition as an artist, even when events and get-togethers may offer tempting fare a bit too often.
Another important aspect of nutrition is staying hydrated. This has an impact on various areas of your physical health. It regulates your organ function, prevents infections, and lubricates your joints. Not to mention that it supports your cognitive processes, empowering your creative and practical skill sets you can use on projects. Men should drink about 15.5 cups of water per day, with women aiming for 11.5 cups.
Various aspects of your physical health can influence your efficacy as an independent artist. It is important to adopt practices that keep your body functioning and feeling well. This should include maintaining regular activity and a balanced diet. Avoiding the tendency to overwork is also a crucial aspect of staying healthy. Some of the actions you need to take simply require consistency and commitment. But a few simple steps can make a big difference for both your wellness and your art.
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