Does this sound familiar? It’s 11 P.M. on a Friday. Your friends are out having fun at a bar or en route to some relaxing vacation in the Caribbean. Meanwhile, you’re sitting on the couch munching on greasy chips, toiling away on a song, website, article, marketing plan, or poem. A crumb falls into your computer keyboard, causing the space bar to momentarily stop working. A mixture of rage and sadness fills your body. “Is this really the life of a creative?” Well, sometimes it is. But it’s important to maintain a balance between tirelessly pursuing your creative passions and finding some time to unwind.
Therapists agree: “So often, creative types try to burn the candle at both ends and for long hours,” says Jonathan Alpert, psychotherapist and author of “Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days. “That leads to burnout, not productivity. It's important to schedule down time—that’s time where you have no obligation and don't have to answer to anyone.”
Here’s how to carve out some “me” time and return to your work with a renewed sense of creativity (and maybe some carrots instead of chips).
Speaking of, it’s crucial to nourish your body to keep the creative juices flowing. Foods like blueberries, fish and nuts can keep your brain in tiptop shape so you can write a song like Paul Simon, be the next Steve Jobs, or tap into your inner Picasso. Check out this list of the best foods for improving memory and cognitive function.
“If people find themselves stuck or with writer's block, step away, mix up the scenery and get moving,” Alpert suggests. “Find an activity that liberates you and makes you feel unstuck. It might be running, biking, or simply going for a walk.” The important part is finding an exercise you truly love, one that doesn’t feel like work. If you don’t like jogging, by all means don’t jog! Maybe it’s Zumba, yoga, or prancercise. What exercise feels the most freeing to you?
Sing your heart out.
Driving on the open road with music playing is also a great way to unwind. Pull a Jerry Maguire and sing “Free Fallin’” at the top of your lungs, or sing Mariah Carey hits in the shower. Studies show that singing alters your emotional and physical makeup and even releases endorphins, the feel-good hormone.
Create a "scents" of calm
Herbs like lavender are known to create a calming sensation. In fact, a University of Miami study that analyzed the effect of aromatherapy found that people subjected to lavender aromatherapy actually became drowsy, according to activity detected in their brainwaves.
Do something creative.
You may be thinking, “Why would I pile creative onto creative when I’m trying to relax?” Creatives tend to take all creative endeavors very seriously—so for a change, try to just draw, paint, or write without any pressure. Maybe you want to doodle a picture in a blank notebook, or free-write in your diary. Or perhaps you want to get lost in a painting. By now, you’ve probably heard of Wine and Canvas. If you haven’t, you can probably guess that the class involves drinking wine while painting. Just don’t sip too much vino Mr. Pollock.
Laugh it off.
Creatives can become angsty pretty easily, so it’s important to take a step back and just have a good laugh. Maybe you want to scroll through cat news on BuzzFeed, hang out with that jokester friend who makes you laugh so hard you almost pee yourself, or even attend a laughter yoga class. Yes, laughing yoga is a thing.
Get outta town.
If you can’t afford to take a full-on vacation, consider driving to a nearby town and acting like a tourist. If that town has a beach or lake, even better! There’s nothing more relaxing than a good swim. And let’s not forget the amazing sound of waves crashing on the shore. While you’re there, resist the urge to check email or think of anything work-related. Just live in the moment.