Environmental Protections: How to Survive the Toxicity of Your Environment Throughout Your Career
Environment is generally defined as the elements and surrounding space in which one lives. Your principle power as an artist lies in the ability to create and alter environments for the betterment of others through your talent and gifts. At the same time, regardless of the level of your career, you will likely be battling the toxicity of the very environment you’re serving.
There are everyday challenges that can range from the misalignment of work-life balance and the inconveniences experienced while living life on the road to the pressures of making the rent each month and managing acute health issues. All of these things, of course, are secondary to the challenge of securing a solid, trustworthy team that can help you navigate the financial sharks and predators lying in wait within your respective field.
Your lifestyle directly affects your ability to repel the toxicity within your working environment and can either empower or inhibit your ability to execute your artistic vision in whatever ecosystem you create in—locally, nationally or worldwide.
Here are a few tips that can help towards inoculating your mind, body and spirit throughout your creative career:
Prayer and meditation: Whether it’s a 10’ x 10’ nook in your studio apartment or a public bench at a local park, designating a safe place for prayer or meditation can be beneficial in maintaining your balance and perspective, as well as clearing your head of negative messaging or experiences, past or present.
Visualization: Carrying a visual source of motivation in your wallet or on the screensaver of your phone can serve as a reminder throughout the day of your career goals and artistic purpose. Your phone can also serve as an archive of inspiration for projects that are currently in pre-production stages.
Creative Consumption: Consuming different forms of art outside of your production palette can help in stimulating new thought and ideas. In addition, just as you would be advised towards achieving a healthier lifestyle through an organic diet—keeping a creative dietary log can help you spot any forms of negative media or additives that may be inhibiting your creative growth and insight.
Self Care: Are you getting enough rest or sleep? Taking a look at your day-to-day schedule and carving out time to unwind can alleviate pressure on your mind, body, soul and spirit. If you’re in the beginning stages of your career and working two or three jobs to get your foot in the door—allocating a fifteen to twenty minute break or nap daily before sitting down to create or rehearse can go a long way in preventing burnout by allowing your right-brain and creative engine time to reset.
Diet and Exercise: Food and drink physically have been shown to have a significant effect on attention span and disposition—particularly your water consumption. Given that the body is composed on average of 50%-60% of water, it is critical that your body, supporting organs—and your brain—be replenished. Water is paralleled throughout scripture as the primary source of life and restoration, and the metaphor further illuminates its importance in everyday life.
Relationships: Are you associating with overcritical, shortsighted people who are unable to see value or demonstrate empathy beyond their experience or perceived limitations? Seeking out mentors in the form of artist biographies or leadership books from business and creative professionals that have walked before you can be helpful in resourcing the knowledge and inspiration you need to foster an internal environment of creativity and optimism.
Professional Organizations: If you’re working to transition into a full-time reality as a working artist, or looking to stretch beyond the circumference of your career, attending industry specific events or joining a new organization can saturate your ecosystem with artists and professionals who inspire and challenge your output. Working in shared artist spaces and participating in jam sessions with other musicians can help in maintaining the wavelength of your creative environment as well.
Continued self-care throughout every stage of your career will further strengthen your work as an artist towards the cultivation of the hearts, minds and spirits of every environment you have been called to serve.