Stress mounts up during the holiday season—and that season is coming! Life with all of its stresses doesn’t stop. Piled on top of those stressors are the calories of holiday indulging, the oh-so-right gifts to purchase, the interactions with family members we manage to avoid most of the rest of year, impending new year’s resolutions that already feel burdensome, the darkness of winter fully descending, and much more.
Creative and performing artists face certain additional stresses. Here are three of them:
1. Annual inventory
This is the time of the year when we look back and appraise how the year went. . Did we practice enough? Did we get enough gigs? Did we get our CD made? Did we paint enough? Did we sell enough art? Did we get a show? Did we get gallery representation? Are we any closer to quitting our day job? Are our prospects looking better for the coming year? If you’ve had an excellent year this appraising might lead to some celebrating but for most artists the year will look quite lacking.
2. Questions at gatherings
This is also the time of year when you spend a lot of time around family and friends and hear all those pointed questions and get all those gratuitous suggestions. “Make much money from performing this year?” “Still trying to make it as a singer?” “Isn’t the music industry dying?” “Make much money from painting this year?” “Still trying to make it as an artist?” “Isn’t the gallery world dying?” “I’m surprised that Bob doesn’t mind that you don’t bring in any money.” “You’re putting off having kids for this?” And: “You know, it’s never too late to go to law school.”
3. Relationship stress
If you’re in a relationship this is a time of the year when money is particularly tight, when you have to deal with extended family, when there are more demands on your time than usual—and when the conflicts that are always there with your mate tend to rise from a simmer to a boil. If your mate has been down on you about your career choice, about how much you travel, about the hours you keep, about how little money you make, and so on – this is the time of the year when those conflicts are likely to flare up and maybe even reach some new crescendos.
There aren’t “good answers” to these stressors. But at a minimum you can equip yourself with stress reduction strategies that you know work for you, whether it’s something as simple as a hot shower or something more along the lines of a meditation practice or a yoga practice. Stress accumulates and it needs to be cleansed from the system. Learn some strategies that work for you, pay attention to your stress levels, and when the stress builds up use your strategies to reduce your stress!