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Music For Fun – Look After Yourself, Seriously

History might be full of myths and tall tales, but the present is too – like the myth of the tortured artist. It’s the idea that the only way to create greatness is to suffer. It’s the idea that you have to be a bit nuts to be creative.

But you guessed it, it’s a myth.

While there’s some truth to the mantra “Take your broken heart and turn it into art”, it’s really difficult to create great art if you’re stressed, anxious, depressed or sick. Creativity is work. It takes focus. It takes persistence, patience, positivity – all of the things you’re less likely to have if you’re suffering.

Don’t get me wrong – plenty of negative and even traumatic experiences have inspired some great art. Some of the most moving songs of all time are heartbreak songs, unrequited love songs, and songs to and about people who aren’t here any more that move us. But it’s hard to write clearly and poignantly about a bad experience you’re right in the middle of. It’s hard to craft a decent song if you’re suffering so much your brain isn’t working as well as normal.

I say this because already it’s become clear that being locked down because of the coronavirus is affecting everyone’s mental health. And that’s hardly surprising – you take away face-to-face social contact, you make it harder for everyone to exercise, you subject everyone to a massively disruptive and alien situation, you take away a lot of people’s job and financial security, and a spike in depression and anxiety is pretty much guaranteed.

That means in general – but especially if you want to use some of this time to be creative – it’s essential you look after yourself.

You can’t pour from an empty cup. Here’s how to fill yours up:

Get some exercise, without fail, every day.
Eat more fresh, unprocessed foods and less processed, sugary foods. (The science is clear: sugary foods are especially bad for your overall mood and well-being.)
Take time to meditate, spend time outdoors and make sure you get enough sleep, even if you’re not on your usual sleep cycle.
Limit your news consumption, both from mainstream media and social media. Once you’ve caught up with the actual updates, any mindless scrolling beyond that is likely just to make you feel more powerless to change anything.

Imagining your energy and sanity is a cup you fill and/or empty is a great metaphor because it’s a great reminder that every time you don’t do one of these things – you go 24 hours without exercise, you eat nothing but ice cream and oven fries, or you check Facebook fourteen hundred times a day – you create a gap that’s going to have consequences later.

In other words, you can still do these things occasionally, but you cannot do these things a lot and keep your sanity and productivity long term.

So start now. Turn your self-care up to eleven. It’ll be good for you physically and it’ll be good for you mentally – which means it’ll be good for you creatively too.

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