Self care for creatives

On the last day of the Con this year, we had a panel discussion called Self Care for Crafters, and I don’t know about y’all, but it was possibly my favorite session of the weekend. Kathy Cano Murillo, Jesi Rodgers, Lesley Ware and Gemma Correll got onstage to discuss taking care of yourself while you’re trying to run a creative business. These are some notes from that session!

Self-care is a buzzword right now, but it’s nothing to roll your eyes at. When your creative business is YOU, you have to take care of yourself. That means getting enough sleep, water, food and movement in your day. It also means being kind to yourself when something goes wrong.

When you’re running a craft business, especially when you’re trying to get up to full speed, you can end up “on the struggle bus,” as Kathy put it. “I should be sprinkling glitter right now!” But learning how to ask for help and taking the day off every Sunday, no matter what, helped her reclaim her time.

jesi rodgers, kathy cano murillo

Let up the pressure on yourself to finish everything right now, Kathy said. Many of these folks also said cutting back on custom orders helped them tame the crazy. It’s OK to say no! In fact, you should say no sometimes. Trust your intuition.

Make an appointment with yourself once a week to check in and breathe. Someone wants to see you during that time? Sorry, you have an appointment! Create routines for yourself that you honor even in times of stress, like regular bedtimes, creating a to-do list first thing in the morning or taking a walk each day.

Spending time on anything other than your business can make you feel guilty sometimes. It took a while for her to realize that we all “need to enjoy life a little more, and it’s OK to do that,” Gemma said.

Self-care gets easier if you plan and make space for it. Like making one day of your week totally off-limits for work, or keeping a regular appointment with a friend or setting aside a night for a favorite non-monetized craft. Eat breakfast every day — no excuses!

Take the time to make doctors’ appointments you’ve been putting off. Get everything you hate to do out of the way, and you’ll stop dreading it — it’s like magic. Reward yourself with a sticker, just like elementary school. Kathy uses Alexa as her personal assistant; for those moments when she wakes up thinking of something she has to do, she just tells Alexa to add it to her to-do list and goes back to sleep.

gemma correll, lesley ware

Lesley uses fashion as therapy: When she was feeling down, she wore seven days of sparkles, even if she wasn’t leaving the house. Jesi’s biggest tip is turn off notifications on your phone. Let those little distractions waltz on out of your life.

Self-care can also be about treating yourself — Kathy has a housekeeper who comes every two weeks to keep things in order and she subscribes to the Hello Fresh meal delivery service to have healthy food on hand. Lesley books a massage once a month (and I emphatically co-sign this idea).

To get out of your head, calm your nerves and refocus your energy, our panelists recommend the Tranquility du Jour podcast, the Headspace app, the Calm app, The Artist’s Way and Yoga with Adriene. You can find more ideas for self-care amid craft show season here.

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Self Care in the Holiday Season

For a lot of makers, this is both the most wonderful time of the year and the most stressful time of the year. Holiday craft shows + last-minute custom orders + peak online sales = EXHAUSTED. We’ve been talking about self-care in the holiday craft show season in our private Facebook group for conners, and we’ve come up with a great list of ways to treat yourself well when your business is stressing you out:

Hot beverages and a half hour to yourself

Little daily rituals that are just for you can do a lot for your sanity. Whether it’s to start off your day with a dose of caffeine or a way to wind down at night, give yourself permission to zone out for 15 or 30 minutes with a hot mug of tea or coffee.

Go offline for an evening

Shut the laptop, turn off your phone, and enjoy offline pleasures like reading a favorite book, playing a board game or writing letters to friends. The emails will still be there tomorrow.

Cuddle times with furry friends

The unconditional love of pets always cheers me up on a tough day. If you don’t have cuddly friends of your own and there’s no cat cafe in your town, consider helping out at your local animal shelter to get those cuddles in!

Give yourself permission to take shortcuts

When you’re in a stressful period, feeling like you “should” do something a certain way makes it even worse. Like rather than feeling that you “should” cook your dinners from scratch, give yourself permission to order take-out or get heat-and-eat options from the grocery store. You aren’t being graded.

Make time for movement

It can be hard to fit it in while you’re in peak production season, but exercise is a proven stress reliever. I personally have made it my business to go to yoga two evenings a week, no matter what. Going for a walk or a run, hitting the pool or just doing some deep stretches will work, too!

Book a massage for the day after your last show

This is a tried-and-true tradition for us organizers of Midwest Craft Con. I splurge on an hour-long massage every other month, and it is the best gift I give to myself all year. Add a manicure or pedicure to that, and you’ve got yourself a spa day.

Block off a day for doing absolutely nothing

Celebrate getting through the holiday craft show season by doing whatever the heck you want! No emails, no post office, no invoices. Just you.

Remember: Self-care does not have to be expensive! The most important thing is just to make time to relax and take care of yourself, all year round. You really deserve it.

PS: Because self-care is so important, our conference in February has a number of sessions dedicated to taking care of yourself and your business:

  • Tara Swiger on Developing Business Confidence
  • Thea Starr on How to Say No
  • The Wonder Jam on Getting Rid of Impostor Syndrome