(or: “how prioritizing taking care of yourself makes all other things possible”)
I discovered something today. Or rather, my brain recognized something that should probably have been obvious to me already.
There’s a saying that resonates with me: “ART BEFORE DISHES.” I have a habit of putting off engaging with my creativity when there are household tasks to be done. Note this in no way means I actually DO the household tasks – it means I procrastinate art because of guilt about household, and procrastinate household because UGH. So nothing gets done.
ART BEFORE DISHES reminds me that if I keep procrastinating doing my art I’m going to end up a repressed, possibly crazy woman with a really messy home and no voice at all. So ART BEFORE DISHES has become a bit of an everyday mantra.
Once I’m actually working on my art, prioritizing it is not a problem. Once I get rolling I put art before sleep, art before food, art before showering…
The good news: I get caught up in things that excite me. I also get caught up in anything interesting enough to distract me from my anxiety (because *relief*). Doing art is, for me, the absolute best cure ever for anxiety.
The bad news: I also have a lifetime of old coping mechanisms for anxiety that don’t involve art, and many of them seem to deprioritize or delay self-care. What does this mean in my daily life? I delay preparing food, I delay taking my medications, I delay doing all the things that stave of the anxiety in the first place.
Until the anxiety hits me like a ton of razor-edged paralyzing bricks. And only then, overwhelmed and vibrating, do I engage in the self-care activities which should have been priority one at the start of the day, which would have prevented most of the anxiety from taking hold in the first place.
It’s a completely preventable self-fulfilling cycle that, when I allow it to happen, undermines everything else I (try to) do. Especially my art, the best thing I do.
So from now on I think I’m going to adjust my mantra. It’s gonna be significantly less catchy, but I don’t care as long as it gets the job done. This is going to sound like something that should have been an utter no-brainer, but here goes:
BREAKFAST & MEDS before ANYTHING ELSE / ART before DISHES / (ugh) DISHES.
Time to go do some ART 🙂