Image credit: Pablo Varela courtesy of Unsplash.
Susan Doktor is a writer, jewelry designer, and business strategist who hails from New York City. She writes on a wide variety of topics from mental health to marketing to parenting. Follow her on Twitter @branddoktor.
How have you been feeling—and dealing—with life under quarantine?
Being mindful of our moods is, arguably, more essential to healthy living than ever before. The Coronavirus crisis has affected mental health worldwide and, unfortunately, artists are not exempt from the trend.
Stress is an equal opportunity ailment.
For one thing, mounting financial pressures are increasing anxiety levels in the creative community. Visual artists are coping with cancelled gallery openings. Portrait sittings and live model sessions are entirely out of the question when people leave their homes only for life-sustaining supplies.
Performing artists are facing economic pain as well as a different type of strain. Performing artists and other extroverts tend to get pumped up by crowds. But crowds aren’t a part of the coronavirus lifestyle. Actors, musicians and dancers, whose psychic energy reserves may be dwindling along with their income streams, may be harder hit by anxiety and depression during the pandemic than artists who are accustomed to a contemplative life in the studio.
In short, like everyone else, artists are facing some life-altering circumstances. And we can use each other’s help getting through them.
Taking care of ourselves, both physically and mentally, has never been more important. So let’s take a look at some of the ways you can address the extra challenges you might be facing right now.
You may have an undiscovered superpower
Some artists experience the drive to create as something essential to their well-being. Does that describe your feelings about making art?
It turns out, objectively, that you may be on to something. Scientists have long been interested in the link between mental resilience and making art. They’ve made some interesting discoveries.
Music is probably the most-studied and proven-effective form of healing through creative exploration. But researchers have also found that writing can boost your immune system. As it turns out, engaging in any kind art activity has the potential to support cognitive function.
So from a health perspective, artists are well-equipped not just to survive but thrive through the coronavirus crisis. It turns out, we’ve been getting art therapy all along.
How’s your screen time?
We don’t have any statistics on that but we can bet it’s up according to this New York Times article.
Screen time is also up among mental health professionals. More and more counselors are practicing online therapy to get people the care they need during the pandemic. Perhaps your therapist is among them. Or perhaps you’re suffering from uncomfortable emotions and wish you had a therapist right now.
Resources to help you find best online therapy for your needs are out there. And we’re not talking about the retail therapy you get from shopping the sales on Amazon.
Online (or remote) therapy is any therapy delivered through phone calls, email, text messaging, or video conferencing. Proponents of remote therapy have pointed out for years that the practice increases accessibility and lowers the cost of mental health care. And now it seems like more people are open to not only online therapy, but therapy in general.
Is online therapy right for you?
Interestingly, many people actually prefer remote therapy to the face-to-face variety. It can be advantageous for those too busy to travel to and from offices, or shy people for whom talking about problems in person is harder than writing about them.
Similar to artmaking, there are different mediums in which the practice can take. If you’re reasonably adept with technology, video conferencing might be a good treatment method for you. If you like to write, you may find therapy via email and text allows you to express yourself both comfortably and enjoyably.
Image credit: Eli Defaria courtesy of Unsplash.
Other ways to mind your mood
Health experts are offering lots of tips on staying mentally fit while managing through the pandemic. Some are common-sensible and others may be part of your regular routine. But, you might find something in this list of suggestions you haven’t considered before:
Try out meditation. Mindfulness practices like meditation are highly effective in reducing the symptoms of mental health problems ranging from anxiety and insomnia to eating disorders. You don’t have to be an experienced practitioner to enjoy the benefits; there are ample online resources that can teach you the basics. You can learn more about mindfulness for artists here.
Make a plan to stay connected. Having trouble keeping track of the days lately? Again, you’re not alone. So get out your physical or digital calendar. Jot down the name of one family member and one friend for each day. Then follow through by initiating a phone call to the people you’ve listed on the day you’ve assigned yourself. You might even want to add in the name of a long-lost creative colleague. The act of supporting other artists may have healing ramifications for you, too.
Need an extra nudge? You can set a weekly reminder in your Artwork Archive account, sync it to your calendar and receive an email notification so you don’t forget.
Use social media specifically to support your creative side. Form a Facebook group with other like-minded artists so you can share your images and your thoughts. Perhaps apply your creativity to the marketing side of art to help see you through the lean times brought on by the coronavirus.
Artwork Archive has marketing tips and resources to assist you, especially during COVID19.
Fight back! It feels good. Plenty of local and national organizations are looking for work-at-home volunteers to help raise funds and provide assistance to the more vulnerable among us during the crisis.
Send a letter. Or a care package. Remember how good it felt the last time you received one of those? Neither has to be complicated. A few words. A rough sketch. Something edible from an online grocer. It all counts for double right now.
Add another sentient being to your household—one that doesn’t have to wear a mask. The coronavirus crisis has left many pets in need of foster care. Every little bit of entertainment and love you can add to your life will make the road to COVID19 recovery seem a little shorter.
We’ve also seen artists finding peace by taking small actionable steps to buoy their business. Whether it’s revamping your email campaigns, updating your website and online presence, or finally sitting down to take inventory of your artworks, there are small tasks that can be done during this unforeseeable “downtime.”