While creating a masterpiece may take patience and time, the surrounding world of tattoo art can often be fast paced. There are late nights, back-to-back appointments, conventions, creating and re-creating, managing social media and not to mention; running a business, ordering supplies, and accounting duties on top of the actual creative work. It’s a lot.
Eventually, all of this constant going and doing can lead to burnout. And if you push through that burnout, even worse problems manifest in the mind and body- anxiety, depression, pain, disease, making it difficult, or even impossible to work, even if it’s a job we love.
So what can we do about it? Bring balance! Through small lifestyle changes and mindful shifts, you can continue to do what you love and feel amazing while doing it.
Start scheduling breaks BEFORE your body is screaming for them and they are crucial to survival. Our bodies typically work on 90-120 minute rhythms. We can only fully focus and grind for that amount of time before our minds need a 10 minute break- to space out, to regroup, to move our bodies etc. Add the physical demands of being an artist, and those rhythms may even shorten, needing a break sooner. Tune into your mind and body. When you get to work, set a timer for 90 minutes. Even if you don’t feel a break is crucial at that moment, take 10 anyways. And if you feel the break needs to come sooner, adjust the time. When you return to work, your energy and focus will be back on point in a way it wouldn’t have been if you kept pushing.
- Ask for help. We often feel like we can do everything on our own. And sometimes we can, but that doesn’t mean we SHOULD. If there is something you can outsource- accounting, supplies, managing appointments, social media, allow yourself to do it and instead of spending that newfound time on more work, spend it on yourself. You deserve that shit!
- Move your body regularly. Hitting the gym, especially to strengthen the back is always a great idea, but movement should come in regular intervals. Spend some time opening up and stretching the front side body on those 10 minute breaks (see our post on Yoga for Tattoo Artists here). Go for a walk and get some fresh air between clients. Spend some time, on your days off, outdoors and focusing on your overall health and wellness.
- Allow foods to nourish you. With a busy schedule, it’s easy to skip meals or grab something quick to eat. These foods may curb a craving or fill you up, but they often leave you feeling worse than you did before and this can only go on for so long until much bigger illness and dis-ease creeps in. We aren’t here to advocate diets and restraints. Simply choose foods that make you FEEL nourished and healthy after eating them- not just in your belly but in your mind. If you eat a meal and feel gross, sluggish, tired or mentally fogged, don’t beat yourself up. Simply take note and choose differently next time!
- Be present. While it may be easy to get lost in your work, allow yourself that same focus and presence when resting, taking a break, moving and eating. We often spend the majority of our present moment planning for what’s to come in the future or analyzing the past. Pause and allow yourself to soak up The NOW.
- Take time to nourish yourself. How do you fill yourself up or unwind? Do you often rely on outside substances or devices? Start asking yourself what truly lights you up and makes you feel good. Maybe you could use a nap, a movie, a book, a massage, time with friends, moving your body, sitting in silence, fitness, yoga, meditation, healthy foods, being out in nature. Find what rejuvenates you, in a balanced way, without that day-after guilt or hangover and start incorporating it regularly. Everyone benefits when you take time for yourself.
- Quiet down. Find time to just be silent. When the mind wanders, gently bring it back to the silence. Maybe you listen to a meditation. Maybe you watch the clouds. Maybe you simply observe yourself breathing. Be with yourself in silence, observe what comes up and see what happens to the mind when you make stillness a regular practice.
- Listen to your body. How many times have we pushed through pain, whether physical, emotional or mental? If you had an itch, you would scratch it and move past it, right? Next time you feel a sensation, feeling or emotion, stop and truly observe it. What is causing it? How long has it gone unnoticed? How can you tend to it so that it can be released? If it is reoccurring, what needs to be adjusted to bring you to a state of balance?
- Slow down and rest. Some days you may be full of energy and others may require slowness. The more you avoid slowing down and resting, the more crucial it will become, until your body finds a way to force it- often through an injury. Don’t let it be forced upon you. Just chill.
- Choose your people wisely. It can often be easier to improve ourselves than it is to realize where our outer world may be toxic. And it’s a helluva lot more difficult to improve our circumstance when “Our People” are still fully immersed in the same shitty habits we are trying to kick. Start observing your relationships. Who is supportive of you working on yourself or changing habits? Who laughs and belittles? Who pats you on the back or jumps on board with you in choosing self-care? Who gets jealous or mad? Creating boundaries, saying “no” to others and “yes” to yourself or even severing unhealthy relationships doesn’t make you a dick. Don’t let them get you down.
We know changes can be hard, but your health and a thriving tattoo community is so worth it! Start small and each change will come easier!
What are some changes you are currently making for the sake of wellness?