Before becoming a counsellor, Denise Devenish grew up in a family steeped in the music industry and has been surrounded by musicians and people who work in the music industry her whole life. She has sung professionally, worked as a performer, and has a degree in arts and cultural management. In this guest blog, Denise talks us through some tips for maintaining perspective and looking after our mental health while nurturing creativity.
1. Create an ending after emotional labor
The creative process can be an emotional rollercoaster, and deeply challenging. It seems tapping into parts of yourself is required, and that your work demands ways other professions don’t utilize. This can be mentally and emotionally draining, and requires managing with great care in order to ensure that creative practice is healthy. It is not always possible to initiate creativity but perhaps once we have finished work, we can create a healthy ending. By this I mean, checking and asking yourself how you are feeling and what you need. Consider ways in which you can create a separation between yourself and the work. Bringing awareness to your body and breath can shift your focus.
2. Give yourself permission to let go
There may be a wave of inspiration and you begin something great, and then you lose momentum and get stuck. This can be incredibly challenging and despite wanting to finish what you’ve started, it feels impossible. It is then easy to get frustrated with yourself and this can feed into a sense of low self-worth. However, this is part of creating because no one is going to be able to create a perfect piece of art from beginning to end all the time. So, be kind to yourself, park it, and let it be. Return to it at a time when you feel you can give it new energy.
3. Connect with other humans
If you are someone who likes to work alone and struggles to share your creative process for whatever reason, then you are not unusual. Creativity often requires inward reflection and time alone to process and try ideas. You may battle with yourself and get lost down the rabbit hole of creative paralysis. This is why connecting with others can help. Connecting about nothing to do with what you are working on, or asking for different perspectives may be useful. When it’s not working out and we feel tired we may want to shut off and disconnect from others. But this is possibly when we need to connect most, to regain perspective and feel a sense of belonging to something more that the work.
4. Try to find perspective and lift the pressure
I’ve mentioned finding perspective several times because I believe it is imperative for a healthy work-life balance. Often creatives get their work and personal identity intertwined and I doubt if this is healthy. Creating boundaries helps to avoid the relentless nature of trying to earn a living out of your art. You need time to see outside of chasing opportunities, working towards the next project, appearing relevant, promoting yourself online and finding new ways to be seen. You need to lift the pressure off yourself and develop an unwavering sense of self-worth regardless of how much others love your art or not. There is a world outside of what you do, and a version of you that has nothing to do with your art. This part needs to be nurtured and taken care of. Let’s focus on being well. It is necessary.
Denise Devenish is a registered member of BACP and a BAPAM-registered practitioner