For our final Summer Session we’re going Back to School, and in addition to examining how pedagogy, learning, and the arts intersect, we are also providing how-tos and resources for artists practicing within education. Today we bring you an excerpt from an article by Madeleine Dore that focuses on ways to practice self-care as an artist, an oft-overlooked but critically important function. While these tips are primarily geared toward community educators, they are helpful reminders to anyone working in a field as demanding and woefully under-supported as the arts. This article was originally published on November 1, 2015.
As a sector, the arts is on the verge of burnout if not already teetering far beyond its edge. Lack of support, the precarious nature of freelance and contract work, the emotional and physical toll of creative and community arts work, frequent requests to work for free, and the undervaluing of work in Australia is confounding. Yet there is a silver lining in that these issues are finally being broached. At the Making Time: Arts and Self-Care conference held by Footscray Community Arts Centre (FCAC) last week, the discussion was stripped bare of the appearances we are often greeted with at exhibition openings, or daily dealings with colleagues and friends. Delegates shared candid accounts of dealings with trauma and mental-health difficulties, and illuminated the dark corners of community arts work. […] So how can we incorporate simple steps toward self-care into our days without feeling pangs of guilt?
At Making Time, arts workers, practitioners, performers, artists, producers and managers brainstormed how as individuals we can strive for better self-care before, during, and after a potential period of stress. Here’s a collection of fifty practical ideas to help you avoid burnout while enabling you to engage with communities, look after others, advocate for the sector, or focus on the creation of your work.
1. Get out of your head
Our thoughts can often be biased and get stuck in harmful feedback loops about not being good enough, not doing enough, not helping enough, not knowing enough. This damages creative relationships and our capacity to do good work. Step out of that loop through mindfulness or physical activity.
2. Be playful
Whether it’s playing a sport, going for a jog, stealing flowers from other people’s gardens, or swinging on the playground, playfulness is often an underrated tool to help manage stress.
3. Share with others
One delegate was asked in a job interview, “What do you need help with?” This is something to continually ask yourself throughout projects or your art practice, and a way to reach out to others.