Maybe it's just me, but it seems like the wedding "season" is getting longer as the years pass. What used to run from May to October with peaks early on, now stretches practically without a break from January to December! For most wedding professionals, our work requires creative energy, as we strive to produce unique experiences special to each couple. Maintaining this energy over such a long season is a challenge! It can be especially difficult if you're working through busy times that don't allow you to take time off. The effects of depletion range from less-than-stellar delivery of our work, to complete burnout, both of which can be devastating for a career or business. While finding time to recharge might come low on the priority list, it's a critical task to which we should pay more attention. Of course a vacation is the ultimate in recharging, but that's not always possible. Moreover, the effects of a vacation are temporary; we need everyday strategies for supporting ourselves. Here are a few tips for recharging your creative energy on a regular basis, and suggestions for fitting in these activities.
Meditation - The health benefits of meditation practices are well documented, but I find it also helps refresh my creative energies. For many years, I dismissed suggestions of meditation because I thought I didn't have time or a place for that. Ideally, you're seated comfortably in a quiet room that is neither too warm nor too cold, and you've got about 30 minutes of uninterrupted time. However, I've done it for as little as 5 minutes in the car while waiting for my child, or in my studio while waiting for a client! So don't think you need the "perfect" setting; you can get benefits in less than ideal conditions. There are many resources to learn meditation - you can even watch videos on YouTube!
Change Activities - The WYNC radio show/podcast Studio 360 did a great episode in the spring called "Finishing School," where they explored the creative process through what it means to finish a creative work. Neuroscientist Heather Berlin discusses the concept of "deliberation without attention" - letting go of a problem or activity and doing something else, allowing the unconscious mind to work through it in a more complex way. I have seen this many times myself. I'll be struggling with a design problem, so I take a break and either work on something else or go to sleep. The solution almost always comes to me and I can get back on track. Turning your attention to preparation for another event, cleaning out your inbox, returning phone calls, or following up on leads can give your mind this opportunity without impacting your productivity. This can also work on a larger scale - find a hobby that is different from your work, which you can turn to when you find yourself on wedding overload. (Find the episode at WNYC)
Take Care of Yourself - Exercise, healthy (and regular) eating, sufficient sleep, and fresh air are good for you. We all know this, but it can be extremely difficult to remember or prioritize when you're knee-deep in the October crush. Find a walking path, and read and respond to emails while you take a stroll. Plan and shop for meals during your off days, then program reminders to eat into your phone. Discipline yourself to go to bed instead of binge-streaming programs - put a note on the TV if you must! And go outside - and touch the earth - whenever possible. Sunlight and soil both play roles in boosting our health. Production of vitamin D, triggered by sun exposure, has benefits too numerous to list here. Over 1,000 human genes are impacted in some way by vitamin D, and links have been found between the vitamin and bone density, diseases like multiple sclerosis, cancer and diabetes, and of course, mood regulation. The process of serotonin production, triggered by sunlight, is critical in governing our wake/sleep cycles and in moderating our emotional states. In addition, microbes in the soil are believed to help increase reuptake of this important brain chemical. For further reading on how soil helps with moods, start with Cosmos Magazine's article How Gardening Could Cure Depression.
Find Related Outlets - For a while, I worked a little part-time job at a preschool, helping with an outdoor classroom. I used some of my plant-related skills, but it was different enough from my "day job" to give me a much-needed change of pace. While I was there, I really had to focus on what I was doing - preschoolers demand attention. So it allowed me to set aside all the worries of my business and wedding work, which as a self-employed person I don't otherwise have the opportunity to do. When I sadly had to give it up, I missed the recharge that it provided. I also learned other valuable skills to take back to my wedding work (preschoolers and engaged couples have several things in common!). Activities that are related to your regular employment, but different enough not to feel like the same work, can recharge you by getting you out of your routine. Yet because there is overlap in the skill set, you won't feel taxed by learning a completely new thing.
Create a Haven - Do you have a cozy place to come home to? Or perhaps there's a corner of your office you particularly like, or a favorite coffeehouse. Finding or creating a place that gives you a positive feeling, and then going there regularly, can be rejuvenating. Recently I was frustrated with the disorganization in my office. I realized that it was like this because I went in there as little as possible. The space just didn't make me feel good. It's isolated from the rest of my studio, and the light is terrible. But there's an unused room on the other side of the building that I have always loved, so I'm renovating it for my new office. Just going into the unfinished space now makes me happy and gives me energy. Find your "happy place," or create one.
What activities or strategies have you found for recharging your creative energy? Please share them by leaving a comment below.