What are artists upto in this lockdown period? Its that phase of a phenomenon where we are all in the same journey, same path, and similar experiences. That of contained energies, which will find new meanings. Its that period of hibernation, where everything seems laden, but we know there is a whole world of creation waiting to unfold.
Studio-ID Art Gallery invited Nicola Anthony to share her series of assemblage that she has churned out with passion by reaching out to her extended art world or artists and art mentors.
About Nicola Anthony
Hi my name is Nicola Anthony, I am a sculptor who is trapped at home during lockdown. Without my metalworking studio I have turned to other things to create – like this video.
During this quiet time, I started to have chats with some of my art world mentors, and decided to do a series of mini interviews to share with you, finding those skills, ideas or useful quirks, which are transferable from the art world, to all humans right now in lockdown or in crisis.
Here is the first video in that series, I hope you enjoy these tips about curating your own home office and your time in isolation, from my own creative coach, Deborah Henry Pollard. Deborah runs the coaching business ‘Catching Fireworks’.
Watch this space for more chats with my mentors and inspirers, interspersed with my cats who just can’t resist popping in shot (and lets face it they are my only live models right now!) in my home art studio.
As promised in this video, the tips from Deborah can be found below.
TEN TIPS & TOOLS TO HELP IN ISOLATION
I have put together some tips & ideas which might support you during these exceptional times. You can play with then all & try them out, or pick the one or two which resonate with you. It is all about finding what you need to get you through these weeks & maybe months in as healthy & balanced state as possible. Don’t add to the already present stress by worrying about “shoulds” & “oughts”. Some people are aiming on learning a language or writing their novel whilst in isolation; others are simply trying to get through each day without crying. The pandemic is our shared environment but like grief, how we experience it is entirely individual.
One Minute Meditation
If you are feeling overwhelmed & stressed, you can get into a cycle of anxiety which affects both your mind & your body. This quick tool, based all around simple breathing & counting, is like pressing a reset button. You only have to do the first part once, to give you a tool you can use anytime you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or fearful:
- Set up the stopwatch on your phone for 1 minute & start breathing comfortably.
- Start the stopwatch & start counting the number of breaths you are taking.
- When the one minute alarm goes off, remember your number, write it down somewhere you can keep it for reference when you need it. (Before you panic, there is no right or wrong number, just your number.)
From now on, whenever you need it, stop & take that number of breaths. It is something you can do anywhere; is a simple distraction technique which allows your mind to get out of a loop; & the breathing calms our bodies down – psychologically, if the body is relaxed it calms the mind.
Circle of Control
Get a piece of paper & draw a circle in the centre.
Around the outside of the circle, write down all the things your can’t control. For example:
- other peoples’ feelings, actions, opinions
- how the news is reported
- food supplies in shops
- how long this situation will last
As much as possible, let go of worrying about these things.
In the centre of the circle, write down all the things you CAN control. For example:
- how you feel, your behaviour, your thoughts
- how you limit your news consumption
- how you use your food supplies
- your own wellbeing
These are the things you can focus on.
Keep the circle near you & if you feel panicky, remind yourself of what you can control & refocus.
Well Being Weekly Planner
Taking care of yourself is always important & never more than in this strange & unsettling time. Whether you are in shock about the “new normal” or embracing new opportunities, your wellbeing is paramount. However, it can often be the thing which drops down the to do list & gets lost in the middle of everything else. To avoid that:
Get your planner or calendar.
For every day in the week, schedule 1 thing you will do every day for yourself & your wellbeing.
This can be the same thing every day, as a routine, or a different treat for each day.
It can be a big thing like: watching a film, going for your walk; half an hour reading a novel; meditation; a manicure; taking an afternoon off. Or it can be a small thing, like wearing your best earrings, trimming your beard, turning off your social media for 10 minutes, having a bar of chocolate.
It is not about setting an agenda to beat yourself up with, but being kind to yourself.
Your One Goal
Create one goal to motivate you & which you can reach by the end of the week.
Make it something realistic – perhaps something you can reach with a small step everyday. This can be as big or small as you want, from “I will create three new paintings” to “I will make my bed every day”. (Let’s face it, in extraordinary times like this when emotions can be all over the place, even the simple things can seem like herculean tasks.)
Just One Thing
Have something at the beginning of the day which you can do as a ‘quick win’ & an anchor. This helps you feel in control & gets the day off to a positive start.
This can be anything like: making your bed; putting on makeup; meditating for 5 minutes; listening to a favourite song; 10 minutes of yoga; journalling; a 10 minute sketch, etc. (One friend of mine is having afternoon tea everyday in a ‘proper’ china teacup.)
Create a Schedule
In a climate when everything seems to be changing around us & we don’t know how long things are going to last, create some certainty for yourself with a timetable. This also helps at a time when the working day can begin & end at anytime, & weekends & the working week can slide into each other. It is important to create clarity & balance.
This isn’t about having your whole week mapped out (unless that works for you), but, for example:
- having clear start & end times to your working day
- a scheduled lunch break
- regular times to do set tasks (“if it’s marketing, it must be Monday”!)
Plan fun things in your diary
It’s lovely to look in the diary & see enjoyable activities scheduled to which you can look forward, particularly with other people. The anticipation is important in a time when we don’t know what is going to be happening next week or month. At the moment, you can’t go out to dinner or to a gallery or down the pub, but what can you do? Some ideas I’ve seen online:
- Zoom cocktail hours
- virtual tea party on WhatsApps
- ‘watch parties’ on Netflix
- pub quizzes on Skype
- online art classes
- virtual tours of museums / historic sites
Don’t forget a date night with your partner, or a special playtime with the kids!
Sort out your workspace
It doesn’t matter how big or small your workspace is, stopping for a while to sort it out can help clear the mind as well as the physical space.
Is your space working as well as it can for you? You might have had to create an office or studio out of nothing & in a hurry, or on the assumption you might only need it for a week or two so it wouldn’t matter if it is not quite right. But your surroundings have a big effect on you & even if the situation is only temporary, getting is as right as you can may make a substantial difference to your mood & well being.
Take time to step back & consider the space, for example:
- the placing of equipment (are the cables dangerously stretched across the floor)
- would a different chair be better for your back?
- is the light at its’ best if you are on video calls?
- if you have a garden, could you pick flowers for your desk?
- if you are working from the kitchen table, how do you easily ‘close the office’ at the end of the day?
You may not be able to get perfection, but any small changes may make your working day easier.
Anxiety & uncertainty can play havoc with sleep patterns & many people are experiencing insomnia or disturbed sleep patterns. Also waking at 3am & being alone with all the negative thoughts & worries makes everything seem even worse. This in turn has a knock on effect on daytime energy & behaviour.
The One Minute Meditation, with its breathing can help. You can repeat the exercise as much as you want to gradually calm mind & body. You can also google ‘intentional breathing’ for other breathing based exercises.
As so many of us are now working from home, if you are feeling fatigued during the day, don’t try to fight it or work over it. Stop what you are doing & take a nap.
The advice form the Mayo Clinic is:
- Keep naps short. Aim to nap for only 10 to 20 minutes. The longer you nap, the more likely you are to feel groggy afterward. However, young adults might be able to tolerate longer naps.
- Take naps in the early afternoon. Napping after 3 p.m. can interfere with nighttime sleep. Individual factors, such as your need for sleep, your sleeping schedule, your age & your medication use, also can play a role in determining the best time of day to nap.
- Create a restful environment. Nap in a quiet, dark place with a comfortable room temperature & few distractions.
After napping, give yourself time to wake up before resuming activities — particularly those that require a quick or sharp response.
Ask for help
Whether you need practical information (how to build that website, run an online course, accept online payments) or emotional support, now more than ever is the time to reach out.
You can google specialist support, or contacts your friends & colleagues. Know what it is you want to ask & make sure you ask the right person. Perhaps offer a small something in return – an exchange of skills/knowledge, support when they need it.
At this time, asking for help is not a sign of defeat, but a sign of courage. It is inviting others to support you, who might not want to insult you by approaching you first. It might also help someone else to open up about help they might need. Supporting people is a gift, which you can give & receive.
Deborah Henry-Pollard can be found at @fireworksdhp www.catchingfireworks.co.uk
Nicola Anthony can be found at @nicola_anthony
More on Nicola’s episodes