Break Time

They say that when one has a desk job, it’s healthy to take a break each hour to get up from our seats, stretch, and rest our eyes by looking at something far away. Experts recommend that you do not work through lunch hour but instead enjoy your meal at the cafeteria or perhaps even take a walk (or a power nap). Incidentally, I do work at my table/desk to create art as well as use the same space for my accounting and admin stuff for my little studio. When I get going doing a task, especially if I am on a deadline, I have the tendency to work without stopping. Whenever I do this, I pay the price. My body gets stiff and achy, it’s harder to sleep at night and it does nothing for my mood. Without taking regular breaks I forget to drink water, so on top of everything else, I get dehydrated. Things tend to accumulate and spiral for me and so I started setting my phone alarm as a reminder to get up and move around.

Taking breaks is definitely important to our physical health and well-being. I am convinced the same holds true for the mind. For me, it takes a lot of brain power to come up with new ideas, to find ways to innovate and to find novel solutions to problems. Every so often I encounter something in my art practice that I have started calling brain fatigue. This is a wake up call for me to rest and recharge. It’s time to take break and do something else, something totally different from what I usually do for my art business. My mind that is always thinking needs to be set free and allowed to relax and enjoy other things. Whenever I come back after this break, I feel recharged, excited and I can get back into my work and creative flow more quickly. I am more effective and productive and things go more smoothly and easily.

Lockdown during the pandemic has not helped with my brain tiredness. Since Spring of 2020, I have taught art lessons via Zoom. It came to a point when I realized that I was even more exhausted than normal and so I did a bit of research and found articles from neuroscientists explain that people experience Zoom fatigue for many reasons (e.g. read https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/psychological-exploration-zoom-fatigue). This helped me understand why a lot of my students, though eager to learn or improve their art skills, enrolled sporadically in my art classes. Seems like everyone just needs a break.

More and more I am learning that creating visual art (and maybe any art) is a full body, mind and soul effort. I am starting to understand that my work hinges on my entire self being healthy as can be. And part of that self-care is taking regular breaks; short ones throughout the day, and making sure I have at least one full day on weekends to not think of my of art or work, and then a longer rest every so often.

I am convinced that vacations are essential to my effectiveness as both an artist and human being. Being in recreation mode reminds me of all the other things I love and enjoy: being outdoors, beaches, going on hikes, seeing animals, playing music, and so much more. As I write the post, summer season has finally arrived, and like many people I will be taking this chance to slow down, take more breaks (long and short), rest, relax and recharge my body, mind and soul in other ways — especially those that don’t require a cell phone or computer. And after this slower more relaxed period, I expect to be fully recharged and better able to make and do more.

Visual Artist and Art Instructor