I hadn’t anticipated writing an article like this. But the coronavirus crisis is global and hurting a lot of creative people.
Some of you might be losing money, or might have lost their job. You might be struggling now with applying to benefits or waiting to see what your government will do. Or you might be in lockdown or self-isolating, and your mental health is suffering.
Whatever is happening right now, I want to give you a few tips that might help you improve your situation. Or at least make it a bit more bearable.
Limit Your Time Watching the News
This is my first and most important tips: you don’t need to read/watch/follow the news 24/7! I know the coronavirus is scary and it is vital to be informed of what is happening. But you don’t need to do it constantly! Reading a reputable source of information (such as the NHS in the UK or your country’s equivalent) once or twice a day is more than enough.
A lot of new website contribute to the panic and anxiety that you are probably feeling at the moment. Avoid hashtags on social media, and avoid sharing unvetted news articles that contribute to increase everyone’s fear. I for example am using TweetDeck currently instead of the usual Twitter interface so I can hide the news trends and avoid checking hashtags such as “COVID19”. It has helped a lot!
Make a Schedule
If you are self-isolating or working from home, and you are not used to it, I advise you to make a schedule for your week. As someone who has been working mainly from home for the past year, I guarantee you that this will make your life easier.
You can use a printable weekly planner or you can make your own. Plan everything, from your work, to the chores, to your artistic activities. DON’T FORGET TO PLAN DAYS OFF!
Planning your days and weeks will make you feel more productive. It will ensure that you keep a healthy rhythm, that you don’t fall out of a normal sleep pattern (a big problem when you work from home), and will help with boredom.
Join Online Support Groups
This is important if you are struggling with finding jobs or if you are unsure of what is going to happen in your field. There are plenty of groups forming in all industries to bring you information, help and support about how the coronavirus is impacting them. For example, I am part of a Facebook group for the UK Theatre Industry, which brings me a lot of tips since I’ve had all my shifts at work cancelled.
You can join Reddit, or follow some Instagram hashtags, depending on your field. It is likely that other artists are encountering the same problems as you right now, and they might be really helpful.
Staying at home doesn’t mean that you should stay inactive. Making sure that you still exercise regularly can contribute to a better mental health, a better morale during self-isolation and possibly a better immune system to fight against the coronavirus.
But how can you exercise when you can’t go to the gym? There are tons of exercises that you can do from home. I invite you to check Youtube, where tons of personal trainers have posted programmes and workouts.
A lot of exercise professionals have also moved to teaching their classes online. Some gym memberships give you access to these workouts for free. Some private trainers have reduced their prices to make it accessible to the largest numbers. I’ve even seen yoga and meditations sessions being posted on Facebook groups for free!
And finally, don’t forget that you can still exercise outside, as long as you are not on lockdown. Running or cycling are great options, especially if you start feeling claustrophobic at home.
Your art business might be severely impacted by this coronavirus crisis, but I’ve seen in the past few days a lot of creatives use technology to keep selling and doing what they love. I’ve seen performers use live streaming to continue showing their performances to the public. I’ve seen musicians teach their students through webcams instead of face to face. And I’ve seen visual artists use Youtube for the first time to showcase their art because they can’t do exhibitions anymore,
There are a lot of options that you can try to keep in contact with your potential customers or fans. They might not all work for your needs, but I believe it is worth a try. Who knows, you might develop a new stream of income out of it!
Keep Contacts Outside of Your Home
Staying at home can become rapidly depressing, especially if you are an extrovert like me. Feeling isolated, alone and out of touch with your loved ones can be detrimental for your mental health. I have written about the devastating impact of loneliness on artists before this whole crisis started, and how to combat it. In a nutshell: it is vitally important to reach out!
Text your friends, organise video chats with your family, have a “beer and chat” phone call, anything that will give you the impression of socialising without taking risks. Even if you are used to working from home, your friends and family might not be, and they might need your support.
Don’t let the coronavirus stop your creativity! I know it is very difficult to concentrate at the moment, and worries such as paying the bills or rent might prevent you from doing your best creatively.
But creating your art will help your mental health tremendously. Even if you just create for the sake of creating. So, if you feel blocked because you are not selling anything right now, do some creative exercises, do something that is completely different, or do something that feels fun and light.
I am very worried about The Part-Time Artist and how my business will survive past this crisis, so I am currently working on a novel that has absolutely nothing to do with anything I’ve done before. It allows me to spend a little bit of time every day in a totally different world, far from the coronavirus and my fears about money.
…. But Don’t Put Too Much Pressure On Yourself
However, don’t expect to write a whole novel, compose a whole symphony or completed a high number of works during this time. You might do it, but you might also find that it is way too much pressure on you.
You might not be as productive as usual, because you might not be used to work from home, because you end up catching the virus, or because the stress of your situation doesn’t allow you to work on your art for a long time. And it’s absolutely fine! There is no rush here, you don’t have to “prove” anything by accomplishing a big feature during this isolation period. You don’t have to fill up all your time, it’s also perfectly fine to rest and relax, watch more TV than usual or indulge in more sleep.
Instead of making grand plans, concentrate on planning realistic goals and being kind to yourself. You’ll get nowhere if you feel guilty constantly because you’re not doing enough.
Help Your Community…
Helping others can help your mental health. Whether you have an older relative who needs help getting groceries, or food banks who need supplies, giving a little bit of time to help others can improve your mood.
In crisis like these, we often feel helpless. Losing control is one of the worst feelings we can have, and adding it to the fear of catching a potentially deadly disease can really depress you. So a good way to counter these feelings is to help others.
Support your local businesses, share works from fellow artists, give your time and help those who struggle the most, all of these will ensure that our society comes stronger out of this crisis.
… And Ask For Help Too!
But don’t hesitate to ask when you need help too. If you are currently sick and self-isolating, ask help from your friends and family. If you are struggling with money, ask your landlord or companies such as electricity and gas if they can make a payment plan for you. And if you have lost your job, research if you are eligible for benefits.
Talk about your situation with others, ask for tips and advice, ask people if you can chat with them if you feel depressed, talk to specialised charities if your mental health is deteriorating.
There are tons of mechanisms for help available, but you need to ask first. We are all in this together, there should be no shame in getting a little bit of help when times are hard. So don’t hesitate, and reach out!
I hope that this article has helped you, even a little bit. These are exceptional times, and it will be hard for many of us. But it will not last forever.
If you have more tips for fellow artists during this coronavirus crisis, feel free to write a comment below!
Céline is an author and podcaster passionate about helping fellow artists reach their potential and live a happy, balanced life.