I've always had a borderline supernatural drive for my passions. Focusing on them has never been a problem for me. One of my biggest challenges is actually pausing my passion projects to go take care of #adult things and be a functioning member of society. Excitedly tinkering with website fonts at 3 a.m. on a weeknight is not healthy, but still something I've been guilty of more than once. That said, how productive I am at my day job tends to depend a lot on how well I slept the night before, and if I'm eating a reasonably healthy diet. Crap food catches up with me quickly, and shows itself in my crap focus and lessened productivity. No one can work well with tummy trouble :/
Wellness, I've discovered, is so important to my hustle. Not only do I need to be properly fueled to do my best work each day, but I also want to ensure my best chances for future success. I don't mean with a cool job or dream commission, but with my health. I have a family history steeped in different types of cancers. Discovering things like Whole 30, clean eating, and Paleo have helped me learn so much about the type of wellness I desire. I've written before about the process and benefits of receiving genetic counseling, and will always be a big advocate for preventative care, as it is what saved my mom's life more than once. But I'm learning everyday that there are more things I can do to keep my mind and body healthier, and a lot of it has to do with the food I eat .
I work full time as a designer and illustrator, and I've always loved blogging on the side about inspiration and my creative process. I think one of the best ways to help others as a blogger is to be the human you are, and let your audience connect on their own terms, by discovering themselves in your stories and actions. My plans for the Creative Wellness posts from the Studio are not necessarily for recipes or workout routines (I have next to none... of either) but for a space to talk about whole health, how our thoughts and diets affect the work we do and the relationships we build, and ways to make it all easier to digest (har har).
I'm all about living a full, happy life as best I can, and with that comes the reality that I can’t transform my health and habits overnight. It's a work in progress! So in that spirit, here are 5 tips to help you (and me!) incorporate healthier habits into our daily routines as creative professionals (and may our work be the better for it!).
1. Incorporate more natural, whole foods into your diet to sustain your energy.
Full disclosure, I am all for having seventeen cups of coffee in a day. The first few sips of a fresh cup of coffee is my happy place. I know it's neither the worst nor the healthiest habit. It's a result of my never having been a good sleeper (really, my mom will assure you—as a kid, I couldn't sleep for sh!t) mixed with anxiety and a shoddy-at-times diet that makes me require a midday siesta more days than not. But finding the Whole 30 program was a huge game changer. Last March, T and I decided on a Sunday night to start the program on Monday after a particularly gluttonous weekend. I'd bought the Whole 30 book a few months before and barely cracked the spine, but that night I skimmed the whole thing to be ready to start on Monday. Pro tip: do not do it this way if you can help it. Read the book (or learn about it online) and plan ahead to avoid unneeded stress and grocery trips. But at the very least, inform yourself about the principals of the diet (real foods, no added sugar, cut out known digestive disruptors like soy and dairy)—it's only 30 days and by the end you will sleep better, feel better, look better, and probably work better!
2. All that screen time = inevitable headaches and a stronger eyeglass prescription.
Brighten your screen, only work in well-lit areas, and get in the habit of looking away from your computer screen every 30 minutes or so and focusing on something a bit closer and then further away. For example, try to read the time on the microwave across the room, and then the small print on the coffee table magazine. Your eyes need this break from the digital screen to recharge. Also, drink from that water bottle you filled this morning! Staying hydrated is essential to productivity, and when you finally get up to pee, your back will thank you for the stretch (of course, not until after your numb butt curses you for existing).
3. Your poor, poor hands. Invest in an ergonomic mouse and that funky looking keyboard.
Apple products are beautiful but slowly going to wither away our bones, so upgrade from them if you care about continuing your creative profession for the long haul. I'm convinced that my thumb may literally fall off in the next ten years, so I'm taking steps to stop writing full documents and blog posts and emails on my phone before bed. Google's "Swipe" phone keyboard functionality is super efficient, but the pain in my thumb by the end of the day is concerning enough to change my ways. I'm putting a computer mouse like this one and an ergonomic keyboard on my Christmas list this year. Join me?
4. Your poor, poor neck and shoulders.
Use an ergonomic desk chair (and, unlike me, actually put it together instead of letting it sit in the box in your living room for two weeks while you use it as a backrest). Get an inexpensive computer stand, monitor mount, or slightly pricier adjustable riser so that you can properly position your computer above your line of view on your work station to discourage slouching, hunching, and leaning. Standing desks are also a good option.
5. Be kind to yourself.
Life is short and long and good and terrible. It's so, so weird. The last thing you need is to bring yourself down unnecessarily. Again, full disclosure: I'm so bad at this. I'm terrible to myself sometimes. I compare myself to approximately 130 supposedly more-successful strangers a day, most of whom aren't even in my profession. I'm a serial comparer, but I'm working on it. Let's nip that in the bud together. You're fantastic, even on your seemingly bad days, because you are following your passion and talent, and that takes courage, commitment, and determination. Those are three very honorable traits. Don't lose site of that accomplishment!
I know it's easy to read a few tips and feel motivated to make a change, but then find yourself a few weeks down the road falling back on old habits. I'm guilty of this, too. To help, bookmark this post or pin the image below so you'll have these tips for easy referencing in a pinch (or for when you're prepping your Christmas list...)
Got any of your own wellness tips to add? I'd love to swap—leave them in the comments!