The Price of Pushing the Limits

insanity-2

The piece that inspired this post: “Insanity II.” You can read more about it at the author’s blog at flairwoodworks.com

My work is often engaging both mentally and physically.  Because of this, I find it difficult to detach myself from the project at the end of the day. I just stare into space, unable to really focus on or enjoy anything. I make for terrible company.

If I want to continue doing this type of work and not have it totally consume me, I need to find a way to cope. My mother, Fay Wong, is a wellness consultant. This is what she suggests.

The art of creating can be an all-consuming task. One can easily lose him/herself in a project for hours and forget to come up for air. Regaining and maintaining a sense of self during intense periods of creativity requires discipline and an awareness of self-nurturing strategies. Before you start your day, schedule regular breaks to sustain yourself for the day’s activities. Set an alarm and remove yourself from your work environment for a wellness break. The goal here is to avoid mental and physical fatigue. One other way to achieve this is to develop a high level of awareness of internal cues for mental and muscle fatigue and discipline yourself to RESPOND to them in a timely way.

Know what nourishes you and ACT ON IT! Remove yourself completely and treat your mind and body to a change in scenery and nutrition break. Relax your mind as you indulge in a refreshing drink or satisfying sandwich while listening to easy music. When you treat yourself to quality breaks throughout the day, not only will your creative capacity burn brighter and longer, you will also have a reservoir of energy at the end of your work day. Recognize there is a time to create and a time to rest, a time to nourish and a time to reflect. Balance comes from awareness and discipline for maintaining wellness. Being human involves physical limitations. Artistry is a spiritual experience that has no limitations. Maintain balance by respecting your physical needs and you will sustain yourself for the love of your craft!

How am I doing with these suggestions?

Most of the time, I don’t do any of this. When I’m working in the shop, I work 6-7 hours straight (or longer) without any breaks because of my drive to continue being productive and see results. I need to realize that breaks can actually increase my productivity and minimize risk of mistakes as well as substantially increase my mental well-being (and sociability!).

Sidenote: Fay Wong is one of the latest participants in #Woodchat’s Telephone Game Design Experiment. She will present her design October 23, 2013 at 7pm Pacific.  You can watch #Woodchat here.

 — Chris Wong, Flair Woodworks

2 thoughts on “The Price of Pushing the Limits

  1. shmo

    It’s one of my favorite feelings to be so completely immersed in a project that it’s all I can think about.
    I’m often working a tad more intuitively than most woodworkers (a habit I’m working on) so I find myself just staring at my project or occupying myself with busy work for a few hours before I know where to go next. This sometimes stresses me out, and learning when to step out of the shop and forget about it for a second is the best thing. Having an engaging conversation with someone tends to set my brain right.

  2. tsstahl

    I started woodworking in part as a way to destress from my regular job. Ironic, or maybe emblematic, but we are who we are. I find myself donning the same sort of zeal for wood projects as I do for career projects. I am much more conscious of it while in the wood shop, though. Thanks for letting us know we aren’t alone. :)

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