Dealing With Stress: Tools for the Working Creative
by Taylor Slattery | February 21, 2023
Creative careers can be draining both mentally and physically. They ask us to dig deep and make something out of nothing. Sometimes it can feel like we have nothing left to pull from. So what are you meant to do when you’re feeling tapped out and the well of creativity has seemingly run dry but you’ve still got to produce because you’re fortunate enough to be in a position to be making a living from your creativity? In order to develop a tool kit for effectively dealing with the stresses and reality of demanding creative work, you must first assemble the correct mindset and a collection of techniques you can rely on when the going gets tough.
One of the most simple and effective tools in your stress-management toolkit is to exercise gratitude. Setting aside time at some point during the day to take inventory of all the things in your life that are going well can help to reframe the role of work in the broader context of your life. This is especially effective at combating that seemingly inescapable sinking feeling that results from the weight of stress that grows heavier with each passing day. Think about some of the things you have in your life that if you didn’t have, getting them would be your primary focus. It’s easy to take simple things like food, water, and shelter for granted, but for others, these aren’t guaranteed.
Beyond just the bare necessities, access to tools and resources like the internet enables us to pursue types of education and careers that would have been inaccessible had we been born just two decades prior. We’re now able to work for companies all over the world from the comfort of our homes thanks to tools that are often free or affordable. Whether it’s the first thing you do when you wake up or the last thing you do before you go to sleep, try to carve out some time to remind yourself that you’re fortunate to be in your situation and express gratitude for the opportunities and comforts you’ve been afforded.
The simple act of taking care of yourself and your body is often the first area of our lives to suffer when confronted with increasingly demanding workloads, but it’s also one of the most important tools we have to combat that very same stress. Eating well, exercising, and getting sufficient sleep provides our bodies with the fuel it needs to power the processes that undo some of the effects continuous stress can have on us. When we slack in these areas by eating poorly, moving less, and getting less sleep than we need, our bodies are unable to perform the functions necessary for dealing with stress, the effects of which accumulate over time leading to the point of overload. Finding ways to make better food choices, incorporating periods of stretching or small exercise throughout the day, and optimizing our schedules to make sleep a priority can have a large impact on our outlook and performance.
Another integral part of an effective stress-management toolkit is a strong social network. Having people in our corner who support us and love us unconditionally can give us the strength to make it through even the darkest of times. These people provide us with an important physiological edge in the form of lowered blood pressure and heart rates that lessen the burdens of stress on the body. Simply regularly spending time with friends and family can have a profound impact on our abilities to lower the effects of stress and provide us with a sense of calm and confidence resulting in a virtuous cycle that makes us better equipped to handle future stress.
Taylor is the Managing Editor of Notes on Design. Taylor is a graphic designer, illustrator, and Design Lead at Weirdsleep.