As Autumn descends on New York City the pace always quickens to a wild sprint that leads us into the coming year. Deadlines quickly approach, students go back to school, holiday plans are made, and the artists, makers, and performers ‘Do All The Things.’ It is tempting to never stop. To be texting madly with 5 people, while rehearsing for a show that goes up next week, while approving final artwork for publicity, while building new costumes and props, and booking plane tickets for festivals and holiday travel. Our minds go a million miles a minute until we lay down in bed at night. We are SO TIRED, but can’t sleep for all the plans, schemes and ideas flooding our brains.
You don’t have to be a New York City artist to experience fall in this way. It’s a pretty common change of pace that happens sometime after labor day and doesn’t let up until after the new year. If we’re not careful we can end up overstretched, burned, out–and worst of all–not operating at our best and brightest capacity as makers, artists, friends, family members, and general human beings. In years past I have found myself with a kind of ‘post traumatic activity syndrome’ after the holidays pass, needing weeks to hide and recover from a wild season of creation. I want this year to be different. This year I want to THRIVE, and love every moment of the process. Here are 3 ideas that have been changing everything for me:
#1: Do One Thing At a Time: This is the essence of Zen. To be fully present in the moment to the ONE thing that you are doing in that moment. The text can wait 20 minutes, and so can the email that just came in. Give your attention fully to the task at hand, and do it well. This is goes for your thoughts too. Try to catch yourself in the middle of planning for something going on next week while you are working on a project that needs finishing today. It can wait, and when you come back to it in an hour you will be able to focus on that ONE THING. Multitasking is overrated. Be present, Be clear, Be in THE NOW, and you will be your best.
#2: Remember to Play: We must not judge our life by our ideas about ‘success’ and ‘failure’, but by the happiness and love we feel while we are living. How will we enjoy life if we forget to play? As an artist I catch myself feeling only as good as my last recording session or rehearsal, and taking my creation process WAY too seriously sometimes. That tense energy can block up the channels of creation and I soon find that my art suffers because of it. Remember to play, let go, and enjoy the process. Finding joy in relaxing into the moment infuses your work with happiness, light, and authenticity. Approaching life in this way creates art, events, and interactions that really move people–these are the creations that change the world.
# 3 Take Time to Decompress: Weather you meditate, run, read your favorite books, practice yoga, dance, or go for a walk in nature, taking time to decompress is vital. NO MATTER HOW BUSY YOU ARE you can make time for a simple decompression ritual every day. 15 minutes of sitting in the darkness with a candle and some essential oils can do wonders for a brain and body on overdrive. I schedule at least 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation and quite time into every morning to set my energies for the day. Whatever you choose to do to decompress, try to make it a time when you put EVERYTHING on hold and focus on total relaxation and release. You will be surprised how much energy and inspiration you receive from pressing pause for a moment before going back to your busy schedule.
What do you do to keep yourself in top form through the busy fall months and into the holidays? Share your tips in the comments below, and have fun Doing All The Things this season!