Battling the Stress When Stress Battles You

Posted by on Jul 17, 2013 in Opinion, Tutorials | 0 comments

In recent times I have had to shift into a high gear to get a very important project done. On a typical day, I usually always work under the strain of the clock. I have a job with a military analysis company, I have 1 son and 2 step kids, there’s the house, the dog, the cat, the list could go on forever.

But it wasn’t until this past July when my idealistic timelines well and truly butted heads with reality – the result? Stress.

Now I did a post on Beating a Creative Block a few weeks back and though a lot of those techniques could be applied here too, when it comes to having something to work on and being overloaded however you may need to take a slightly different approach.

I will go through what has helped me get through some super crazy weeks – so when that art deadline hits you, you don’t for lack of a better analogy: crash and burn ๐Ÿ˜‰

Christina Lank painting on wood panel

Full steam ahead!

1) See the Big Picture:ย Whether it’s a big board like a the photo above, for multiple smaller projects, or maybe just one super challenging piece which seems to have more problems than positives??!!! (I think we’ve all been there :P) – The stress will be clouding your ability to think through the piece(s) clearly.

Take a moment, take a step back, get a pen and paper and make a To-Do list. For example – on the lower left hand side of the painting I need to correct such and such. Add more glazing to such and such. Go through the entire piece of art and make an action list. Step back, see the bigger picture. Then you can focus on ticking off boxes and feeling like you are accomplishing tasks set out for yourself, rather than jumping in blind and hoping for the best.

2) Mmm Comforting Comforts: Times of extreme stress are not what I consider ideal times for diets or restrictions. Leave that for when the project is over! So I say – dig into your comfort zone. Does macaroni and cheese make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Got a sweet tooth just begging for some chocolate? Head on out to the store, grab some of your favorite snacks, drinks, and food and make sure to have some around you while you begin to work. Every time you start feeling overwhelmed – have a nice bite of chocolate and take a deep breath. It’ll be your little reward for working oh so hard!

trail mix with chocolate, comfort food,

I have this thing for salty mixed with sweet. Makes me happy ^^

3) Talk it out!ย Now artists may be slightly solitary creatures. We usually don’t have meet ups and have “art-jams” or whatever, so when we go through the stress of How Will I Ever Get This All Done….we look around and there aren’t a lot of folks there! But seriously, even if it is picking up the phone, grabbing someone on Skype or hijacking your significant other for some serious ranting time – do it! You have no idea how much better you feel once it is all out. Once the words come out of you – so does the bulk of the stress. The added comfort of a friends shoulder to lean on will undoubtedly make you feel stronger to boot. Just the other day, I called my best friend who lives in Los Angeles (remember, I am in Sweden!) and just gushed….as if we were in high school again. I walked away from that conversation feeling 10 times lighter and really ready to take on the world.

4) Just Breathe: The anxiety can get bad. And that anxiety is like black oil that seeps into every bit of your day. Art may not be your only responsibility and the amount of must haves and must dos pile up and up to the point where you feel like perhaps you may just explode. I had one such day where I needed to work on this super stressful project and I had 5 children running around the house, shooting off play machine guns and screaming to their hearts content. I probably looked like a pretty hilarious cartoon character, I was being pushed over the edge so much!

Go to your happy place....

Go to your happy place….

Instead of exploding/imploding try to do some breathing exercises instead. One of my favorites is to close my eyes, keep my head down and envision myself breathing in “calm and happy energy” and breathing out “negativity and stress”. Take strong deep breathes and really imagine it, usually for me it is in colors. The brain is very receptive and very powerful, and if you teach to calm down it certainly will. Just takes a bit of practice sometimes ๐Ÿ˜‰

5) Have a Goal: Like the comfort foods, which are instantaneous rewards, have a reward in mind for yourself after this is all over. For me it is pretty big – I finish this super stressful project – I get a new car. It’s a great incentive to keep going! Now of course it doesn’t have to be as big. But make it special for yourself. It could be anything – a new pair of shoes you have been holding off on, a dinner date out to a really nice restaurant you’ve been dying to try, or maybe even treat yourself to a nice spa/massage day (I could definitely go for that!!). Print out pictures of the thing you are working towards and tape it up by your work station.

Getting that extra bit of motivation can really help you push through a tough time and remind yourself you will be treated to something you really want once it is all over ๐Ÿ™‚

a plan and no time

Life loves to challenge us all, and though you’d really love to turn around and kick it in the balls – just remember it is a valuable lesson and you are learning each step of the way. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, and I have a feeling we are all much much stronger than we give ourselves credit for.

I hope this helps for the next time creative havoc rushes into your life! Be sure to leave me your own tips on battling stress in the comments! I am sure I will need them ๐Ÿ˜‰ hehe

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