There are many ways to practice self-care, from the simple treats of manicures and massages to the more meaningful acts of setting healthy boundaries and believing in ourselves.
Another meaningful way, which is one of my favorites, is cultivating a creative practice. I was reminded of the power of creative practices while reading Christina Rosalie’s beautiful new book A Field Guide to Now: Notes on Mindfulness and Life in the Present Tense.
Christina returns to writing after struggling through many exhausting, endless days. You know the ones, where every task can’t wait ’til tomorrow. Because it’s all important.
She writes about feeling “worn thin like the fabric of a blanket too used, too loved, too folded and unfolded to meet the needs of other people’s daily lives.”
I think about the other ways many of us feel worn thin. From not nourishing ourselves, or from not even knowing our hungers in the first place. From our own body criticisms and verbal beatings. From counting calories, from saying no to certain foods or entire food groups. From ignoring our bodies. From glossing over other needs: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
Like Christina, writing is nourishment for me. It’s part of my self-care, and what sustains me. It’s as natural and necessary as breath. (Though many times I wish it were as easy as breathing!)
That’s why I relate so much to Christina’s description of her need to write, and writing’s ability to help and heal.
“…I’ve been so focused on keeping my head down, my feet going, one in front of the other, that I’ve forgotten that I can write myself out of this mess. I am someone who needs creative purpose with the same urgency that I need air, and it’s this that I’ve let dissolve like sugar in the torrent of need rushing at me. But if I can wake up and write daily until I feel like I have a reason to be writing again, then I can write myself a raft. I can write oars. I can write buoyant water.”
Creative practices have the power to soften our stress, boost our mood, nourish our hungers, let our voices speak and be heard and give us that little bit of fuel we need to take another step.
There are many creative pursuits that sustain us, the ones that will build us our raft, two oars and a buoyant water.
Maybe what sustains you is painting, planting, playing music, singing, sewing, scrap-booking, sketching, dancing, dreaming, drawing, taking pictures, journaling or jewelry-making or something else entirely.
Whatever your creative practice, keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be time-consuming or regimented. In fact, keep it flexible. According to Christina,
“…Revise it, and revise it again, until it becomes something that truly sustains you — ten minutes every morning with quick brushstrokes, maybe, or pages scribbled in a notebook that travels with you everywhere. Let it be small. Let it be honest.”
What creative practice sustains you? What nourishes your hungers? What provides for your various needs?