Self Care for Artists: A Personal Journey

I’ll be blunt – I have generalized anxiety disorder.

It’s not that people make me go, “Oh no I said the wrong thing they’re gonna’ hate me etc.” That’s social anxiety. I don’t have that. I do not fear making a dang fool of myself in front of other people.

No. My anxiety stems more from future-based thinking. Specifically, I’m REALLY good at worst-case scenarios. And my trigger for cooking up worst-case scenarios is getting a bit of unexpected (especially bad) news.

So, in a video I made fairly recently, I said that my living situation was looking to change within the next year. That’s because of two things:

  1. I currently rent my house from my mom while she and her boyfriend do the RV-lifestyle thing. And,
  2. Mom said (at the time of the video) that she was looking to sell the house I’m currently renting within the next year.

She has since changed her timeline and decided the house won’t be listed for 2 to 3 years at the soonest. But when I first got the news, when she told me the 1-year plan, my anxiety kicked into High Time Worst-Case Scenario Cooking Mode.

That, coupled with dealing with my emotions around the death of my grandfather at the beginning of the year – and those feelings resurfacing because we sold/auctioned off the estate – meant that I was in Emotional Shutdown.

Right on the same week that The Legend of Jamie Roberts, Chapter 1 on KickStarter wrapped up, and right around the same time that one of my side hustles decided, “you should work 35 hours this week!”

So there was a period where I took 4 days off of EVERYTHING in order to take care of myself. No studio work. No side hustles. No freelance. Nothing.

And in that four day period, and in the days after, I had a realization.

The thing is, I’ve made drawing and making art my full-time thing. Drawing and making art is what pays my rent, my groceries, and basically everything else. I do not regret making my art be able to do this, and I’m proud of the fact that my art can do this.

BUT.

There are a lot of self-care guides out there that recommend that people “make art” as part of taking care of themselves and having time to relax.

Let me be clear: I do make art for self-care, as well as for work. It’s just that the art I make for self-care is VERY different from the art I make for work.

I love comics. Otherwise I wouldn’t have made it my job.

But when I’m in Emotional Shutdown Mode, I do not draw comics. That’s work. Instead, I crochet. I bake. I paint. I do anything but make comics.

Most importantly, I discovered – when I take care of myself, I WRITE.

I’ve been writing so god-diddly-dang much these past two weeks, but not on email newsletters or comic scripts or blog posts.

I write stories.

(Granted, the one story I’ve been writing for self-care purposes is fan-fiction, but it still counts as writing. The act of writing, whether fan-fiction or not, is an act of practicing the skill.)

Do all of these stories I write for self-care become comics I make? God no. Especially the fan-fiction. That shit is for ME.

But for some reason, writing is the catharsis that makes me less angsty. It is the thing that stops the Emotional Shutdown train of thought. And it is the first thing I turn to whenever I feel the Worst-Case-Scenario-Cooking Mode begin.

If you’re an artist, I hope this helps you get some ideas of what you can do for your own self-care. Yes, making art is great. Making art for a living is even better. But you don’t have to be making art all the time in order to be valid.

It’s ok to take time for yourself. And it’s ok if taking care of yourself looks like something besides making art. You have permission to not make art in order to take care of yourself.

Thanks for reading.

You. Are. Awesome.

4 thoughts on “Self Care for Artists: A Personal Journey”

  1. Great to know you found something that works for you, Kelci. :D

    I’m honestly not sure what kind of art I would make if I made it to help with my anxiety. Thankfully my own anxiety is mostly social and at this point it’s controlled enough that it doesn’t rile me up very often. At most a couple or few times a year I have a conversation (usually online) that gets my heart rate up and I can’t get out of my head for a few days. I haven’t found anything that’s really effective at distracting me when that happens.

    1. Depending on the anxiety and what triggers it, distractions may not work. Sometimes you just have to be present with the anxiety and let it run its course. In those cases, “distractions” will actually change your thought pattern, e.g. if I’m trying not to think about neo-Nazis, I try to think about music from The Griswolds. But now there’s a mental connection between the Griswolds and neo-Nazis that previously wasn’t there before.

      So, “distractions” may not work. Just accept the weirdness the situation brings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.