I consume a lot of content about entrepreneurship. It’s thrilling to hear other people’s stories of creating something from nothing. I also enjoy seeing the world through their eyes. Wants and needs I was oblivious to suddenly become so obvious. And here is this human who has created this thing to solve that problem. At the same time, as inspiring as these stories of struggle and triumph can be, they can also trigger a shame response within me.
The same goes for the things I take in related to creative work. On the one hand, it’s fuel for my fire. On the other hand, it makes me anxious. I worry that I’m doing it wrong. Not in the work itself but all the other stuff. I don’t squeeze every spare minute out of my days; getting enough sleep is a non-negotiable. What’s more, since I stopped taking medication for depression years ago, I have to stay on top of exercising or else I’ll tailspin.
Some days I wake up already frustrated with how much time I’ll have to spend keeping myself stable. Of course, this is a privilege. I have the benefit of being able to control my schedule and prioritize my wellbeing. And it still requires a lot of energy. Energy that I could hypothetically be spending on my creative work. On developing myself, my brand, and my business. On making money and on elevating other creatives who have less privilege than me.
Only this isn’t how it works in practice. Within a few days of pushing those supports to the side, I start to fall apart. I become less productive as my anxiety takes over my body. Simple tasks that should be quick to complete become insurmountable obstacles. I am heavy with guilt. I have so much compared to so many and my inability to cope feels like an unforgivable character flaw. Soon, I have spiraled down to a place where I have nothing to offer anyone.
I’ve heard a similar story from my creative friends and peers. They have something they believe in. They are aware of their privilege and are determined to use it productively. And then the essential things that keep them well start to be put off. It feels too indulgent; they don’t have the time. Of course, none of us do. And we also have only time for these necessities. Because without them, we suffer and then so does our work and our cause.
Every morning, including weekends, I wake up and write my Morning Pages and a blog post. After that, I have breakfast and bike to the yoga studio I teach at for a class. Then I bike home, shower, and get to work. Sometimes in the early evening, I’ll go for a walk before working for a few more hours. I try to be in bed at the same time every night. This is my baseline, the things that are essential to my wellbeing and to me being able to help the folx who matter to me.
So, what is essential when it comes to taking care of yourself?