Posted Monday, November 02, 2020 - 9:41 AM

5 Steps to Make Wellness a Daily Part of Your Creative Practice

In times of uncertainty, taking control of what you can—rather than stressing about what you cannot—is crucial for both mental and physical wellness. Rethinking a routine can seem challenging, but there are ways to purposefully use the moments you already have in your schedule—whether it’s a first cup of coffee or a morning walk around the block—to combat burnout. Here are five tips to make wellness a daily part of your creative practice, with resources from across the Pratt community to connect and collaborate for better health.


Hendrik Voogd, “Italian Landscape with Umbrella Pines” (1807), oil on canvas (courtesy Rijksmuseum, via Wikimedia)

In times of uncertainty, taking control of what you can—rather than stressing about what you cannot—is crucial for both mental and physical wellness. Rethinking a routine can seem challenging, but there are ways to purposefully use the moments you already have in your schedule—whether it’s a first cup of coffee or a morning walk around the block—to combat burnout. Here are five tips to make wellness a daily part of your creative practice, with resources from across the Pratt community to connect and collaborate for better health.

1. Find Time for Mindfulness
Not everyone can set aside an hour for meditation every day, yet we can all find moments for mindfulness. Identifying a quiet and comfortable space where you can allow your mind to flow freely for a few minutes can be refreshing for your creativity and problem solving. Blocking out five minutes after a Zoom session or between projects to simply do nothing can be as valuable as filling up every second of the day with tasks. 

If you don’t want to go it alone—or prefer having a scheduled time for mindfulness—the Mindfulness in Student Affairs Committee (MISA)’s Mindful Pratt program organizes regular virtual meditation and contemplative practice sessions open to drop-ins. From virtual breath breaks to Friday morning meditation, these half-hour gatherings provide both pause and community. For a more involved experience, the Meditation Incubator invites faculty, students, alumni, and staff to learn to meditate with a focus on deepening creativity through visualization and self-reflection. The Resilience Council also offers an Introduction to Mindfulness, a short video series with step-by-step instructions and guided meditations by Rhonda Schaller, assistant vice president for Student Affairs and founder of the Meditation Incubator project.

2. Pay Attention to What Is Already in Your Routine
Radical changes to your daily life can be daunting—and often unsustainable—but there are small ways to make your routine healthier and more meaningful. By giving what is already in it your full attention, maybe preparing dinner or watering the plants, you can enhance your awareness of your environment. It may even lead to inspiration and ideas where you least expect them. 

That same consideration can be given to your personal space, particularly if it is now your studio, office, work station, laboratory, etc. While we can all dream of decking out a spacious home with a perfectly designed chair and desk, that can be unattainable, and every person has a different setting in which they can thrive. Embrace what makes sense for your daily mental wellbeing. For some, the knowledge promised by a cluttered bookshelf is invigorating; for others, cleaning the kitchen before working or studying is how to find some inner balance. For inspiration, check out Prattfolio’s recent visit to the home studio of writing professor Claire Donato and read about how she has made her apartment into a tranquil oasis with interchangeable surfaces for the various demands of the day, meaningful objects, and plenty of plants. 

3. Take Breaks and Move
It is easy to get immersed in a creative project and lose track of time or be afraid of disrupting momentum, but everyone—no matter how busy—benefits from taking a break. Especially with much of our collaboration, work, and learning now online, making a point to frequently stand up from the computer is essential. 

Hansol Jung, BID ’20, investigated this issue in a spring 2020 capstone project—recently featured in Prattfolio—with a collection of objects designed to encourage breaks in a workday, including a portable hourglass speaker that plays music and a 45-minute incense burner, each promoting an awareness of time through acts of ritual.  

These pauses are opportunities to move, whether it’s some light stretching, a walk to the kitchen to get a glass of water, or a bike ride. On campus and virtually, Pratt Rec is offering fitness resources for the Pratt community. An outdoor fitness area has been available this fall semester while online, students, faculty, and staff can engage in training, fitness classes, yoga sessions, and on-demand workouts. Follow @PrattRecWell for the latest.

4. Check in on Each Other
Being intentional about checking in on others is especially important with many of us learning, teaching, and working remotely. These deliberate actions can reinforce bonds with those in your life who support your creative goals as well as strengthen your collaborative network. A text message, video chat, mail art exchange, or distanced stroll in the park can all be ways of checking in. 

There are numerous opportunities to foster these connections at Pratt, from student organizations to campus-wide events shared on the online events calendar. Pratt’s Alumni Regional Networks are also continuing to offer virtual events and networking for alumni around the world; and for faculty, the Center for Teaching & Learning (CTL) is hosting weekly virtual coffee meets for informal conversations and check-ins.

5. Make Food Planning Part of Your Week
When deep in creative work, the next meal may end up being whatever is in the freezer or snack foods, but a little planning can lead to healthier choices. Scheduling out meals and doing prep work ahead of time can leave more space to enjoy cooking as well as assure you are making nourishing food a part of the week. 

On campus, the Pratt Food Pantry is open to anyone in need. The newly launched Pratt Farm to Campus initiative is also bringing locally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables to campus so more affordable healthy food options are available to the Pratt community.