Maybe it is because it’s the middle of the semester for us MFAs or maybe it’s because the summer is ending and the fall equinox is about to begin and with anything new, change is inevitable. Whatever it is, it’s happening all around me and now it’s happened to me: stress, sickness, and bad moods seem to be abound. That’s why it is so important—no, it is essential that we learn how to take care of ourselves.
You know, it’s like when you are planning to go on a big trip, and you make a long list of all the things that will be indispensable to you for the big adventure you are about to undergo. So is getting an MFA (or any BIG project or decision), in a way. I would say one of the necessities that should come first on that list is How To Take Care Of Yourself So You Don’t Lose It. By this I mean you should really consider who would take care of you when you get sick, what is crucial for you to attend socially, what you can skip (time is money), and what are healthy ways you can release stress.
If you are still not convinced that taking care of yourself is important, I’m talking to you now, that person who takes care of everyone else first and puts themselves last. Think of it this way, an MFA is like climbing a really big mountain, not a hill, a big ass mountain. It may look like a hill to you in the beginning because you think, Oh, it’s so nice, I get to read books I like as part of school now, oh, and I get to write anything I want, this will be great! No! Step away from that delusional thought. Don’t get me wrong it’ll be the best decision you ever made, but if you really value being an artist, it will also be the hardest thing you have ever done. Because it hurts to be told to do something over and over again (about 20 times), it hurts to be told to scratch out that whole chapter you just knew was awesome and original, and it hurts that people still think you have it easy because they think you hang around in your pajamas at home just, you know, writing.
I’m writing this now because I bring hope. I don’t want to see anyone that has ever had big dreams and is now in the middle of achieving them get stuck halfway up the mountain. Especially because there are a couple of things that have helped me these last couple of days to deal with my heap of work and stress:
1) Healthy food is a must, or else you will eventually fall sick. Surround yourself with people that take care of you through food.
2) Do some sort of exercise alone. When you are running or walking, or doing yoga, you are strengthening your core and learning to breathe.
3) Learn to say no. You can’t be everywhere and do everything.
4) Hang out with people that make you forget you were stressed. Laughing helps.
5) Learning to delegate tasks is a must. You can’t do everything, and most people are willing to help.
6) Spend some time alone.
*This is extra: it helps to have a crazy dog or cat.
Hope that helps and I wish everyone luck this semester!