Artist Return to RoutineMar 18, 2022
Author Leigh Penner
"Your habits will determine your future." - Jack Canfield
Return to Routine After a Break / Part 2
As fantastic as holidaying may be, there is just no place like home. One of the best parts of taking a break is finding yourself recharged and excited to get back to work.
Rest can look like sleeping, changing up your routine, kicking your heels up and swaying back and forth in a sleepy hammock, reading a good book, participating in an activity that is not normal for you, getting a physical change of scenery or any variety of other options. Regardless, taking a break is designed to recharge all parts of a human being -- mind, body, and soul. It's not meant to be a permanent state of existence.
Image by Heico Basten.
What happens, though, if after taking some time away from work, you find yourself struggling to get back to it? Well, as much as there is value to rest, there is also value to routine.
People are creatures of habit. This is one thing you have going for you when you return from holiday and need to return to productivity. Maybe you've been on holiday spending time reading a book poolside, and now you're home and there are chores to be done, and obligations to be met, and a blank canvas just daring you to smear it up. In your headspace, though, you are still warm and lazy on the beach. This happens to all of us.
Reentering regular life means picking up on the pattern of our normal routines. The ease with which that can be done has to do with the nature of your routines themselves. Routines that are unhealthy lead to both ruts and burnout. If you find yourself in either of those places, reassess your life strategies. Routines themselves, though, are not bad things. The key is to use good habits within your routines. That way, your routines will bring health and productivity into your life.
Experts have discovered that people without any form of routine experience increased stress, poor quality of sleep, bad eating habits, lower physical health, and ineffective time use. For artists returning to work after an absence, sometimes it is essential to ignore your mood and simply pick up the paintbrush as a form of discipline. Some ways to make this easier is to:
- create a regular, scheduled time to be in the studio. It will take a bit of days, but soon instead of struggling, you will be anticipating those hours.
- set a timer that will chime when you have completed the allocated studio time. There is a pyschological benefit to knowing you only can or must paint for a certain period of time and do not need to keep track of time as you paint. Setting a timer can be freeing.
- set goals for your working time, have a plan in advance for what you are tackling at that moment. Going into a painting session without any idea of what is about to happen next can be fun, but it can also create creative blocks. Having a plan helps combat indecision and procrastination.
- have an accountability partner who can encourage you as you create. We all need someone who cares about our work when it is going well and who will help motivate us when it is a struggle.
- create incentives to get you moving again. (For example, if I spend the full two hours in the studio today, I will buy that new paintbrush I've been wanting. If I spend the full ten hours of studio time I have scheduled this week, I can take the weekend off.)
Be prepared that at first it may take effort to get back into regular routine, but soon you will find yourself right back on schedule. Once your routine becomes a habit, you will experience far less emotional resistance to prioritizing studio time. Your routine doesn't have to be boring, after all. And with benefits like lowered stress levels, improved sleep, and overall better health, not to mention completing the art projects you are working on, it will be impossible to overlook the value your routine brings to your life.
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