Fooling yourself into taking time out

I have grown up with a strong sense of selflessness and caring for others. As I’ve written about before, in the past, I've really struggled with doing my best, putting healthy boundaries around my work and my personal life, and taking on too much. Sometimes this has manifested in the form of illness (both physical and mental), resentment, confusion and huge disappointment.

However one thing has stayed pretty stable during these periods. I am a creative person with a need to create, but I don’t make time to let myself create.

There are countless numbers of times where I’ve sat at my desk in a spare ten minutes, and thought about the novels I one day want to write. There are times when I’ve built myself up to getting really excited at work about my latest project, but by the time I get home, I’ve got another to do list on the go, and frankly not enough energy or time to do things for myself.

That got me thinking. What can we do, - while quietening our guilt/busybee complex - that is ultimately going to work for ourselves?

In other words, how can we trick ourselves into slowing down and having valuable down time, while not having to fight off feelings of guilt and thinking of the billion and one things that we need to do.

Temporary Solution: do things that we love to do and find relaxing, and blend them with our need to serve others.

Before I start really exploring this, I want to just make an aside. We’re talking about first steps here - in no way am I saying that we should only be creative for the sake of other people’s happiness.

We should make art because art matters. We should express ourselves because we have a human need to express ourselves, and for creativity’s sake.

But, when we’re busy humming around, taking care of everyone but ourselves and don’t have a moment spare, and we're not in a place where we are able to recognise our own needs, this can be a great start.

So let’s take an example  - I enjoy making jewellery. I enjoy putting different colours and textures together, using my own unique tastes to create bold jewellery that has personal meaning.

But, I rarely make jewellery for myself.

OK, maybe every six months or so, I might get out my wires, beads and cutters and sit in front of the TV and make myself a couple of pairs, but that is extremely rare.

When I do make the time and the space to create, it’s been to make gifts for other people. That’s not good and I’m really not advocating for people to begin and continue their creative projects for the sake of others, but if we’re not going to be able to get creativity into our life in other ways, then perhaps this is a temporary solution.


Going back to my jewellery making - if I allow myself the space and time for a couple of evenings to make some jewellery, say, to cheer up my best friend who is feeling down,   I’ve metaphorically (of course) killed two birds with one stone. I’ve met my need to help others, and I’ve also met my typically not-so-recognised need of relaxing and taking some time out.

If we can approach creating for others as a relaxing activity - I’m not talking about deciding to crochet your neighbour a  five foot by 3 foot granny square blanket for the next day! I'm talking about random act of kindness that we can do at our own pace, where we can take time out of our busy days and really reap the benefits of being creative and relaxing.

I know, I know, I'm the first to complain when people suggest the first step of self care is giving to others. But let's work with what we know as a spring board and bounce from that. The end goal is finding time in our hectic lives to look after ourselves, and if tricking ourselves for now is the only thing that's going to do it, I say, give it a shot!

As always, I'd love to hear from you about the ways you find to be creative in your lives. Does this work for you? What silences those voices for you, so that you can take care of yourself?