So, we’ve all been there. On tour, after a talk or workshop, or high-powered meetings in a strange city. It’s hard to wind down, and often, the tension builds to the point where you have a chocolate-eating orgy with the mini bar (or much, much worse!). Or go on a spending spree just to make yourself feel less isolated and bored.
But there are ways to make sure you don’t build up to a fever pitch of frustration and boredom. Smart artists wind down in both large and small ways so that they’re less likely to get to that point. Here are some tips and tricks to help you.
Smart artists wind down by having a winding down routine
Smart artists wind down properly like athletes after a big event and give themselves a chance to rest. This is particularly useful to know if you perform or make presentations where your adrenaline is sky high. By all means do the ‘post mortem’ or have a drink with your band mates, but eat lightly if you need to at all, drink some plain water and excuse yourself in order to attempt to get to bed at a fairly sensible time. Once you’re in your room, put on some slow music or an audio book or talk radio while you potter. Tidy your room, prepare things for tomorrow, steam your throat, or have a hot shower. Then, even if you don’t feel sleepy, actually get into bed with the lights down low – or off altogether. Let yourself ‘drop off’. Avoid the ‘blue light’ of TV, phone and gadget screens, and stay off social media as it will keep you awake.
Smart artists wind down by taking hobbies with them
Many if not most work trips involve a lot of waiting. It might be because you’re waiting for a flight to board, because you’re backstage, or because you’re up at an unearthly hour due to jet-lag. It’s much easier to put yourself in a relaxed frame of mind if you have brought a hobby from home with you. This is because your mind already associates that activity with relaxation. Also, the activity is rewarding in itself. And that will help you wind down because you’re getting the kind of ‘reward’ you’d get at home after a long, hard day. So take your handicrafts/watercolours with you. Download a new book from your favourite author/new album from your favourite artist. Or arrange to do some swimming or surfing or whatever’s practical in your location. Smart artists know that any hobby which utilizes a repetitive rhythm is particularly good for soothing the nerves e.g. knitting. I believe ‘real men knit’ these days so there’s no excuse!
Smart artists wind down by staying in touch with home
Sometimes the tension builds because your time away is all about work and there seems to be no way of switching off. Or simply because you’re lonelier than you realise. You may know your colleagues well, but they’re no substitute for the people you relax and have fun with, because professional agendas will always get in the way. Smart artists wind down by staying in touch with their loved ones. Either by Skype calls, instant messaging or email. All of them can help you feel as though you’re back home and can relax, even if it means dealing with domestic issues. On a long tour that can make all the difference.
Smart artists wind down by taking the odd day off
Smart artists wind down by changing up the routine. So, if you’re in an interesting city/landscape, try to plan the odd day off to help keep you sane.Go sightseeing with a good guidebook, to a museum or ask a local colleague to show you the sights or recommend a good restaurant. At the very least a day off will allow you to recharge even if you lounge around the hotel pool and sleep. Plus, you’re more likely to buy real, local handicrafts and souvenirs, rather than last minute stuff at the airport for the people back at home. That benefits the local people more too.
Smart artists let themselves have a little moan
Sometimes work is frustrating. Maybe your sound went wrong, your wardrobe malfunctioned or your jokes fell flat. Maybe you’re being undermined by a colleague, or someone has an unspoken agenda you’re working against. Or perhaps you’re waiting for a crucial decision and have to hold your nerve as you keep working in the meantime.
Don’t ignore the sources of your frustration. Often you’ll have done everything you could at the time to solve the specific issue. But some face time or picking up the phone and calling someone you love, just to vent, can help enormously. We all need reassurance that this particular disaster isn’t the end of the world, and smart artists wind down by letting themselves have that reassurance. Be prepared to do the same for the person who’s been your sounding board, when they need it.
If you want to hear some more tried-and-tested smart artists’ work habits, try downloading a free excerpt of ‘Organizing for Creative People’. They’ll make your creative working life much easier…