15 Simple Reminders When You Feel Overwhelmed as an Artist

I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the more I need simple reminders when I feel overwhelmed. As I write, I have several reminders on little yellow sticky pads on my desk: Call Marty. Double-check rooms for Grove artist retreat. Pay Visa. Floss. Okay, delete the floss one.

If you feel discouraged, overwhelmed, or distracted, I hope these simple reminders will be helpful for you as an artist. In recent days, I’ve felt overwhelmed. I’ve never written so many checks to cover taxes and tuition for two college students. Last Monday, it was everything I could do to keep the anxiety monkeys from hurling handfuls of mental monkey excrement at me. If you’re overwhelmed…

Here are fifteen simple reminders to help you refocus and reframe your perspective when you feel overwhelmed. My goal here is not to be simplistic. Or trite. Or euphemistic. Or cute. Like beautiful design work, there is an elegance in simplicity. And when you feel overwhelmed, it best to keep things simple. All I can say is that this is what works for me. I’m human, not bullet-proof.

  1. When you feel overwhelmed, make a simple list. Do one thing at a time.

  2. Remind yourself that you really do love being an artist. Art is something you CANNOT not do.

  3. If art was easy, everyone would be an artist.

  4. Ask yourself, “What is my true identity? Is it my art?”

  5. Stop taking yourself so serious. Laugh.

  6. Leave all outcomes to God.

  7. Take a nap. It may be the most spiritual thing you do today. Rest is holy.

  8. Let go of your pride & self-reliance…ask for help.

  9. It takes years, perhaps decades, to become a proficient artist. You get there one day at a time.

10. Your successes will teach you little. Trials and challenges are your best teachers.

11. Gratefulness is a wonderful antidote to anxiety.

12. God’s grace is sufficient for all things in all things.

13. Breathe deep.

14. Stop what you’re doing. Pray. Ask God to help you find your center in Him.

15. Accept this invitation from Jesus…

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Questions: What reminder is most helpful to you today? Why?

I’d love your thoughts and comments.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, snarky or off-topic.

  • Rebecca

    Beautiful. I recently started going through the book The Artists Way (in fact I’m leading a small group of intrepid women in doing the book) and one of the core activities of the book is called the morning pages. I’m two weeks in and finding this early morning ritual of free writing is bringing simple clarity and focus to each day. It helps me tune in with my Creator as well as with my inner artist.

    • http://www.joeyo.org/ Joey O’Connor

      Writing early in the morning does bring tremendous focus and clarity. It’s putting first things first. Yes, I’m familiar with The Artist’s Way. That’s wonderful you’re leading a group of other artists!

  • Nancy

    Hi Joey, I liked reminder #2- Art is something I CANNOT not do. And #3, If art was easy everyone would do it. I guess I’d add that God calls some of us to be artists, and that’s why we should do it. Even when it’s hard to earn money enough at it, and hard to find the time to do it with bill paying and all those boring, but necessary household tasks needing to be done. I also like #11, about gratefulness. Reminds me of “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks…” 1 Thess. 5:16-18 Wishing you a joy filled day.

    • http://www.joeyo.org/ Joey O’Connor

      Yes, when “Art is something you know you CANNOT not do,” then you know you’re really an artist. You bring up a great point about God’s calling. When God calls, the calling usually always involves struggle (Was there every a calling in scripture that didn’t involved pain and struggle?). I’m reminded about Mother Teresa’s thoughts about simple love and obedience…keep things very simple and focused all on the love of God. Thanks Nancy…yes, love 1 Th. 5:16-18 too!

  • Peggy Shor

    Hi Joey,
    These are all equally great reminders. I have not read Matthew 11 for a while. It is a verse one remembers from Sunday School growing up, but reading it today gives me a sense of a deeper re-assurance and relief from the burdens that attempt to swallow you up.

    • http://www.joeyo.org/ Joey O’Connor

      Thanks Peggy…yes, we do tend to carry things around a lot longer than necessary, don’t we? Glad you were encouraged. Blessings and peace to you.

  • AmandaHuntKelu

    Thank you again for a great list. I would say that #6 is the most important one for me. I need to leave it with him. Trying to make an income from art is not always the most important aspect.

    • http://www.joeyo.org/ Joey O’Connor

      Great point Amanda…I need to constantly remember to leave all outcomes to God…there is a great source of peace and perspective there. Thanks for writing!