Hey everyone! I'm going on Spring Break. This doesn't mean a break from blogging (for the most part) or writing, but more of a framework for how I'll be spending the next few days. Breaks are important in the sense of daily breaks of self care (taking time for a sit down dinner or a hot bath), but also in the macro way of leaving down, turning your phone off, and spending a bit more time doing what you want instead of what you need. Maybe. Am I right?
Why do we need these? Most of us can afford to sleep 7 or 8 hours a night (I hope), and that should account for sufficient survival rest. What is it about the permission to escape reality (on a beach in Mexico), or rent that cabin where there's no cell phone service.
I, personally, need time to unplug my brain. Dissociation and excessive sleeping during a depressive episode are two indicators in my life that prove it, as far as my body goes. It may have been the years of non-stop working, schooling, and perfectionist-ing, but something changed for me about two or three years ago. It wasn't fun to work overtime any more. I didn't feel rejuvenated if I was the first person to cross the finish line. This may sound like a cop out, but man, I went hard for about 26 years of my life.
I practiced excessively in my undergrad, and I felt proud of that until I burned out and wrecked my arms for a good six months. I had tendonitis, carpal tunnel, tennis elbow...it was awful. Once I recovered, a friend of mine (who was also an excellent musician) leveled with me: "if you need to practice more than four hours a day, you're not doing it right." He was talking about focused, detail-oriented practice, not running the same passages over and over just to punish myself. It put a lot in perspective for me.
I don't think I work any less hard than I did back then. I teach, I'll be back to gigs soon, I write songs, I'm drafting my second book, and I still see my friends. Martyrdom is not sexy. Taking time off or doing something for yourself isn't selfish. I know there have been a lot of takes surrounding mental health and self care, but I still don't see too many artists that I know doing it all that well (the self care part). When I sit down to write, I turn my phone and computer to do not disturb, set a timer, and go. Once the timer goes off, I get a break. I find this practice to be efficient and rewarding, and better yet, it makes more time for me to take those much needed evenings, days, or weeks off without lingering feelings of guilt.
I will also say that most of my creative work is work that I love to do, so even on days off, if I have a free hour and a great idea, I write it down. I may even work on a draft of something, but always in the context of curiosity and love, never negative self-talk. At least that's what I'm trying to do.
As I prepare for my break this coming week, I'm looking forward to writing, reading, and taking long walks. My phone won't be with me all that much, but I hope that when I get back, we'll all reconnect, especially once I get through my vax process.
In the mean time, stay well, stay safe, and stay kind. (And take a break!)