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What does health look like as an artist? For many of us, the key to physical and mental health is somewhere in our list of abandoned New Year resolutions or scrawled in hasty notes from the latest doctor appointment. But it’s too easy to disregard these reminders. In a world of deadlines, perfectionism, and passion, health often comes second for professional artists.

But the truth is, you can’t properly take care of anything in your life until you take care of yourself. From art to family, your responsibilities require a healthy you! So make your doctor proud and incorporate some of these artist-specific health tips into your busy schedule:

  1. Posture
  2. Movement (Just a Little)
  3. Protect Your Routine
  4. Food and Water
  5. Go Outside
  6. Insightful Eyesight
  7. Social Balance
  8. Mindfulness

1. Posture

Chances are, you spent a lot of time hunched over a desk glaring at paper, tablets, or your computer. But if you take a moment to notice the shape of your body, you’ll feel more like Gollum than a hardworking artist. Practicing good posture can go a long way! Here’s the best way to sit:

  • Straighten your back (engage your core)
  • Draw your shoulders down and back
  • Both feet planted on the ground
  • Screen at eye level (if you’re working on a computer)

For those of you who’ve invested in a standing desk, you still need to think about your posture while standing. Make sure your hips are squared and your knees are a little bent. And regardless, you need to take movement breaks.

2. Movement (Just a Little)

Scientists out of Columbia University found that adults who sit for one or two hours at a time without moving have a higher risk of early death. They recommend standing and moving around every 30 minutes to keep your body happy.

Artists can rarely leave their work every 30 minutes, but that means you really need to make the most of your breaks. Pace around, go for a walk, stretch, or even do a quick workout.

3. Protect Your Routine

There are so many benefits to adding a bit of routine into your life. By establishing work hours, no matter what they are, your brain will adapt to a rhythm of work and rest time. This will help you organize your work, but also decrease anxiety when you’re not on the clock.

The hard part about maintaining a routine is not creating it. It’s protecting it. There will always be pressure to turn around a project as quickly as possible, or to take on another client. Frankly, there will be times when you have to sacrifice a couple more hours to work. But as much as you can, tell your clients or supervisors how much time you need to complete a project based on your healthy and established hours.

Read “6 Practical Business Lessons For Freelance Artists” for more tips on establishing an efficient schedule on your terms.

4. Food and Water

This is likely the section you already have written down from your latest doctor appointment. Here’s the easiest one: STAY HYDRATED. Invest in a large water bottle and commit to drinking all of it at least once a day.

While you’re working on a project, it’s easy to forget to eat regularly and then grab whatever is around. We don’t recommend stopping for a full three meals a day, but you should keep healthy snacks around you. Next time you go shopping, stock up on almonds, veggies and hummus, popcorn, yogurt and berries, apples and peanut butter.

If you can, it’s also better to eat snacks and meals without distractions. You will feel more full if you focus on your food. This isn’t always a possibility, but it’s worth thinking about!

5. Go Outside

Have you ever reached the end of a work day and realized you haven’t been outside? Maybe even the work week? The grind is real, but so are the benefits of stepping out of your studio or office for a quick 20 minutes a day. Being outside does the following:

  • Lowers your blood pressure and reduces stress
  • Improves mood
  • Increases focus
  • Helps faster healing
  • Decreases pain
Art by Abraham Agaton Lopez in Vegetation & Plants for Games.

Plus, think of of the inspiration and joy that lies outside your door. Writer Anne Lamott once wrote, “My pastor said you can trap bees on the bottom of mason jars without lids because they don’t look up, so they just walk around bitterly bumping into the glass walls. Go outside. Look up. Secret of life.”

6. Insightful Eyesight

Working inside on small details every single day is going to wreak havoc on your eyesight. Eyes are like any other muscle in your body, and we tend to keep it strained in one position day after day. Here’s what you can do:

  • Get your prescription checked
  • Work in well-lit areas (use all the natural light possible)
  • 20/20/20 Rule (Every 20 minutes; look away at something 20 feet away for of 20 seconds)

7. Social Balance

Humans are social creatures. Social isolation can lead to a huge range of health issues, including depression, poor sleep quality, cognitive decline, poor cardiovascular function, and impaired immunity (American Psychological Association).

Even if you work by yourself, reaching out to fellow artists can improve your quality of art, productivity, and health. Plus, being around people with the same passions can remind you why you fell in love with art in the first place.

And while hanging out with fellow artists is amazing, you should also make intentional time for your friends and family outside of work. Perhaps you can call a friend on one of your walk breaks, or schedule dinner with a relative. Even when you’re busy, you’ll need breaks. Use these as an opportunity to invite other people in.

ReadWhy the Reclusive Artist Stereotype is a Myth” for more on how artists can incorporate socialization in their work and life.

8. Mindfulness

Burnout is a real occupational hazard for professional creatives. You can help prevent or minimize this stress by checking in with yourself. The word meditation provides the image of humming criss-cross applesauce on the floor, but really it’s a way of directing all of your attention inward.

There are lots of ways to do this, including walks, cleaning, journaling, and yoga. As long as you set aside distractions like work and technology, this is a really important part of maintaining mental health.

For some of us, these meditative activities are not enough. Counseling or therapy may help understand and adjust to our struggles. If you broke a bone, you’d go to the doctor. If we used the same logic for our mental health, the world would be a much more manageable and enjoyable place.

Read “5 Ways to Avoid Creative Burnout” for more tips on preventing and managing stress.

As a final piece of advice, give up the idea of “achieving” health. Instead, focus on improving your health. Everyone can do something a little better every day. What are you going to do today?

LEARN MORE

CGMA provides comprehensive instruction for Art, Games, and VFX industries in a variety of courses for a range of students, from 2D and 3D artists looking to supplement their college studies to industry professionals looking to stay up to date on emerging trends and techniques in the field.

RELATED LINKS

Read “6 Practical Business Lessons For Freelance Artists” for more tips on establishing an efficient schedule on your terms.

ReadWhy the Reclusive Artist Stereotype is a Myth” for more on how artists can incorporate socialization in their work and life.

Read “5 Ways to Avoid Creative Burnout” for more tips on preventing and managing stress.

Sources:

https://infinigeek.com/health-tips-work-computer-day/

https://www.artworkarchive.com/blog/how-to-stay-healthy-as-an-artist

https://www.skillshare.com/blog/10-ways-to-maintain-mental-health-as-an-artist/

https://www.sharp.com/health-news/5-ways-being-outdoors-can-make-you-healthier-and-happier.cfm