wellbeing

Real Talk

THE IMPORTANCE OF TAKING A BREAK

 
Mexico by Kitiya Palaskas.JPG

I recently returned from a 5 week vacation travelling all over Mexico. (For anyone wondering, it was absolutely incredible and I highly recommend it as a holiday destination!) As I’ve settled back into normal life I’ve been thinking a lot about what this time off meant to me, and in particular, my creative practice. Turns out, taking breaks is absolutely crucial to my creative longevity.

Prior to this I hadn’t been on a long, proper vacation since 2010 (the year before I started my business) with the exception of 2 mini trips to Bali, which for Australians isn’t really THAT far to travel, and in my eyes, didn’t really have the same impact as taking a lengthy amount of time off. Over the years I’ve watched friends go on epic holidays, some taking months, even years off to travel. I always thought these kinds of adventures seemed unattainable for someone in my situation – there always seemed to be some reason for why I couldn’t do it too, mostly relating to my creative business.

Mexico by Kitiya Palaskas.JPG
Mexico by Kitiya Palaskas.JPG

“I even felt like I didn’t deserve a holiday, there was just too much to be done and I had to keep pushing or else I’d get left behind”

Mexico by Kitiya palaskasJPG
Pinata Mexico by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

A big reoccurring reason was guilt. I felt that I wasn’t a legit business owner if I wasn’t constantly thinking about work, constantly hustling, constantly pushing, or being constantly available for my clients at all hours of the day even if I was technically off the clock. I even felt like I didn’t deserve a holiday, there was just too much to be done and I had to keep pushing or else I’d get left behind. Laying the pressure on thick don’t you think!?

I also felt a huge amount of FOMO. I felt that taking time off meant I wouldn’t be available for jobs or opportunities that might be around the corner. Because freelance life is unpredictable, you feel like you should always be open for business so you don’t miss out. I was stuck in my routine too. I had been on the grind for so long, working in the same way, in the same place, with the same habits.  It seemed impossible to consider stepping out of this bubble and disrupting my routine for an extended period of time.

Torta stand by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg
Cotton Candy Stand Mexico City by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

But eventually everyone reaches a breaking point. After 8 years I was so burnt out that I literally couldn’t work properly anymore. Travelling is one of my favourite things to do, and I’d restricted myself from it for way too long for the sake of my business. However, this hadn’t seemed to benefit my business or my creativity, in fact, being so relentless had been detrimental to me (cue creative burnout!). I desperately needed some time off, so I forced myself to finally make this a priority, despite my apprehensions. And I’m so glad I did.

As the dust settles after my holiday I have started to notice the ways that I have benefited from taking a break. One of them is the sense of freedom that comes from of breaking out of my bubble. It’s never a bad thing to shake things up and get away from your regular routine for a while. A change is good, even if it’s uncomfortable. As humans we can easily get stuck in our daily routines. At times I need a routine to help me feel more in control of my life, but not having one for 5 weeks was actually so refreshing. It’s made me appreciate and enjoy the day-to-day things again, as well as being inspired by the routines of the people I interacted with in Mexico. Before, I felt a bit like a rat on a wheel, stuck in the daily grind, but now I realise that if I start to feel that way again, I can just step off and shake things up once more. Or create an entirely new routine that suits me better.

Isla Holbox by Kitiyia Palaskas.jpg
Isla Holbox by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg
Bacalar Mexico by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

Pushing myself out of my comfort zone and into a new unfamiliar place forced me to start thinking and seeing in different ways. As I soaked up new, unfamiliar sights, smells, flavours and experiences, I was deeply inspired. Now, new ideas are flowing in and I can’t wait to see how this influences my creativity.  An interesting observation related to this was that prior to leaving I told myself I was going to maintain my creative output the entire time I was away. I didn’t want to fall behind. I packed heaps of supplies and a scrapbook, intending to make something every day. But almost as soon as I arrived I realised that making stuff was the absolute last thing I wanted to do. I just didn’t want to do anything related to my design practice AT ALL, in fact, I felt the need to get as far away from it as possible for a while.

“As I soaked up new, unfamiliar sights, smells, flavours and experiences, I was deeply inspired. Now, new ideas are flowing in and I can’t wait to see how this influences my creativity.”

I feel so rejuvenated now too. Seems like an obvious benefit, but I didn’t realise how much I desperately needed a physical and mental break from my business and the freelance hustle until I was miles away from it all. I didn’t notice how much it had ground me down over the past 8 years. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved my journey so far, but there’s no denying it’s been a long time between proper breaks! Ya girl was exhausted!  The simple act of taking a break from it all has allowed me to recharge my batteries in the most amazing way. Sometimes when you’re smack bang in the middle of your bubble, it’s hard to clock that you need to get away. Related to this is how the simple act of getting some distance allowed me to shed the feelings of guilt that were tying me to my business. The guilt was quite ingrained, and it took almost 2 weeks for me to fully shed these feelings and begin to truly enjoy my holiday, but once I did, I felt amazing!

Mexico by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg
Mexico by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

So, what have I learned from taking a break? Well, firstly, I should have done this YEARS ago, probably when I first started experiencing creative burnout, not years after. Instead, I waded deeper into the mud until I was stuck there because I feared that taking a break would make me fall even further behind. Instead, not taking one prolonged my burnout further.

Secondly, being a martyr to your creativity is not cool. It will not make you a better artist, it will just make you tired. People aren’t going to notice you more and give you more jobs just because you refuse to take a break and you work 24/7. You will only damage yourself, and your creative output will suffer for it. There shouldn’t be a stigma surrounding taking time off, it should be encouraged and supported, not looked upon as a sign that you aren’t doing enough.

Finally, my trip was incredible, but I may not always be in a position to go on vacation in order to take a break. I have realised that the act of taking a break doesn’t necessarily have to be in the same form every time. It could be anything - a weekend away, an afternoon off, an enforcement of designated working hours, lunch away from your desk, setting your out-of-office each night (and sticking to it), even something as intangible as a mindset shift.  The crucial thing is that you allow yourself to truly step away for a while, to mentally and physically break. Your creativity will thank you for it. 

Chichen Itza by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

 
 
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Get some Real Talk in your inbox!

Real Talk is an online wellbeing project for creative people, written and curated by me! Through a monthly newsletter we share original articles (like this one) and exclusive curated content that we feel will compliment the topics we’re discussing in our articles. Things like TED talks, podcast episodes, videos, wellbeing exercises, worksheets and many more inspiring resources. Sign up to our newsletter to get your monthly dose of Real Talk and be empowered to improve your wellbeing so that you can lead your best creative life!

 

Real Talk

WELLNESS: A LITTLE YOGA SEQUENCE FOR SOME TIME OUT

 

Take five from your day for a stretch with this little yoga sequence I put together. Love, Katie


Get some Real Talk in your inbox!

Real Talk is an online wellbeing project for creative people, written and curated by me! Through a monthly newsletter we share original articles (like this one) and exclusive curated content that we feel will compliment the topics we’re discussing in our articles. Things like TED talks, podcast episodes, videos, wellbeing exercises, worksheets and many more inspiring resources. Sign up to our newsletter to get your monthly dose of Real Talk and be empowered to improve your wellbeing so that you can lead your best creative life!

 

Real Talk

WELLNESS: A SIMPLE BREATHING TECHNIQUE FOR STRESS

 

Here is a simple breathing technique designed for the times when the work is piling up, the to do list seems never-ending and all of a sudden, you realise you haven't left your desk in hours. This happens to all of us and it's ok. The best way to think about it is to take a breather, regroup and start fresh.

Stop whatever you’re doing for 1 minute (if you can do this at your desk, that’s great, but you may need to excuse yourself and go to the another room if you’re around people and distractions). Sit or stand comfortably, and close your eyes if that’s ok to do (otherwise keep a low, soft gaze). Imagine you have a balloon in your mouth. Breathe in deeply, and as you breathe out, the balloon will start to inflate. Imagine the in breaths containing small stress points that have been niggling at you and imagine them filling up the balloon on the out breath. Fill up the balloon with all the stresses and niggles until it’s full. Tie the balloon in a knot, then let go and watch as it floats up to the sky and eventually out of sight.


Get some Real Talk in your inbox!

Real Talk is an online wellbeing project for creative people, written and curated by me! Through a monthly newsletter we share original articles (like this one) and exclusive curated content that we feel will compliment the topics we’re discussing in our articles. Things like TED talks, podcast episodes, videos, wellbeing exercises, worksheets and many more inspiring resources. Sign up to our newsletter to get your monthly dose of Real Talk and be empowered to improve your wellbeing so that you can lead your best creative life!

 

Real Talk

THE CONCEPT OF SUCCESS

 

This is an article from the original Real Talk blog, which is now archived here on the KP website!
Happy reading!

Real Talk by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

I'm super excited to announce our first monthly theme, 'Success'! I felt this was a fitting choice for our first ever theme because it's kind of what prompted me to start sharing my real talk in the first place. Worrying about whether or not we are successful is a big thing for a lot of creative people. Our view on what success means can be affected by so many different factors - our backgrounds and experiences, other people's definitions of success, misconceptions, inner demons, societal pressures, what the media tells us and so much more. This month we'll be exploring the concept of success, its varying definitions, and some of the ways in which outside factors can affect our personal views on what success means to us. We'll hear from members of the creative community, learn about Imposter Syndrome and how it can skew our view of success, get real about the not-so-real aspects of social media, and so much more. 

To get the ball rolling I wanted to share some things that I used to think about success, things I personally thought to be true, but that I now (with a bit more time and experience under my belt) consider to be misconceptions. These views were actually quite damaging to a younger me, and made me put a lot of undue pressure on myself, which didn't contribute positively to my creative wellbeing at all! Maybe you've thought them too at some point or another. So here they are, along with some rebuttals from an older, and hopefully more wiser me. 

Real Talk by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

The more money you have, the more successful you are.
Ew, no. Sure, I like to be paid well for my work, don't we all? But to me, my career achievements and how good I feel about them often seem completely separate to how much money they brought in. There are so many aspects of my creative life that I consider successful, and most of those have nothing to do with money at all, so there.

Success is a portfolio of big-name clients
Having big names on your client list is impressive, but it shouldn't define success. Some of the most incredible creative people I know haven't once worked for a big name client, or even a client at all in some cases!  And what defines 'big' anyway? Even that is subjective. 

Success is creativity full-time, having a day job is for plebs
Ugh, triggering. I've done both (in fact I have a day job right now!) and I can safely say, I kicked goals and achieved amazing things regardless of my full-time or part-time status. Everyone's situation is different, and just because you have a day job doesn't mean you're any less valid than someone pursuing their creative career full-time. Both are great!

Success is finding one thing and sticking to it
I hope not, because otherwise I've failed big time! I'm someone who is constantly pivoting in their career. I have so many interests and I want to pursue them all, and no one can stop me dammit. Picking just one of these interests to pursue for the rest of my creative life makes me feel totally claustrophobic actually. Why not dream big and aim for success in all your chosen fields, you don't need to pick just one!

Success is being a martyr to your craft
Gross, no. We've all met a martyr. You can recognise them by how tired and unhappy they look. I know this because I used to be one. I used to feel like if I wasn't working on my brand 100% of the time, I was failing it somehow. But slaving away late into the night, not taking breaks, thriving on stress, not eating, not showering (ew), being too busy for your friends and family... none of this makes you a 'success', it just makes you burn out! We all go through busy times as creatives, it's part of the process. But realising the importance of finding balance, nurturing your mind and body, and not feeling guilty about taking time out will actually make you better at your job, not worse.

Success means constant motivation, inspiration and dedication
No mate. Having these things is lovely and feels awesome, but it's also normal if you don't feel like this 100% of the time. Creativity can come in waves, and sometimes you're just not vibing. You would never consider someone a failure during the times they weren't 100% jazzed about their creativity, so why would you think it about yourself? 

Real Talk by Kitiya palaskas.jpg

I think it's important to say that despite feeling like I don't believe in these definitions of success anymore, sometimes I can revert back to them out of habit, and I have to try really hard to snap out that damaging way of thinking. It's a work in progress!  But if there's one main message I want to convey this month, it's that SUCCESS IS RELATIVE. It means different things to different people, it can even mean different things to the same person (at different times in their lives). Some people might not think about it that much, but to others it could be the driving force behind everything they do. No one person is the same, and no single creative path is the same, so success is going to look different for each and every one of us.  I think it's important to define success for yourself, and try to not let external factors influence this. It's also important to be open to your definition of success changing over time, mine certainly did, and will again I'm sure.

I hope you enjoy the thoughts and resources we'll be sharing in this first month of Real Talk. There's a lot of juicy stuff to discuss, so let's get stuck into it!


Get some Real Talk in your inbox!

Real Talk is an online wellbeing project for creative people, written and curated by me! Through a monthly newsletter we share original articles (like this one) and exclusive curated content that we feel will compliment the topics we’re discussing in our articles. Things like TED talks, podcast episodes, videos, wellbeing exercises, worksheets and many more inspiring resources. Sign up to our newsletter to get your monthly dose of Real Talk and be empowered to improve your wellbeing so that you can lead your best creative life!

 

Real Talk

WELCOME TO REAL TALK

 

This is an article from the original Real Talk blog, which is now archived here on the KP website!
Happy reading!


Kitiya Palaskas Real Talk Project.png

Hello! Thank you for finding this little corner of the internet, I'm so glad you're here. My name is Kitiya Palaskas and I'm the creator of Real Talk. I am a craft-based designer who has been working in the commercial design industry for the last 8 years. I am proudly self-made and have built my niche career from scratch through a combination of trial and error, persistence, and many, many Google searches on topics like "how to run a design business", "what is an invoice", "marketing tips for total idiots", "how to not be socially awkward in networking settings", and other similar things.

Over the course of my career, the internet has been an amazing resource to educate, empower and inspire me to be a boss - there is literally no end to the incredible information out there to help people build and run successful brands or business ventures. Because of this I feel like I can say with confidence that when it comes to running my creative business, I got this. But over the years I have realised that there is another side to being a creative person. It's something I didn't really consider or think was important initially because I was so excited about the career I was building and too busy learning all those business-y things so I could one day become the cooler, more powerful, more ethnic version of Martha Stewart.  I didn't realise that this 'other side' is actually as equally important to having a successful creative career as learning how to run a business. I'm talking about wellbeing

Real Talk Project by Kitiya Palaskas

Creativity is personal, it comes from inside us. It's an expression of our personality, a reflection of who we are. It makes sense then that all the things that affect us on a personal level are inextricably linked to our creativity. I often wonder why it's easy enough to reach out  for support about things happening in my personal life, but then seems taboo somehow for me to speak up about the same issues facing me in my creative life. There seems to be a stigma attached to this kind of sharing. Luckily we seem to be in a special period of time right now where wellbeing issues are more openly discussed than ever before, especially online. A safe, nurturing space is being formed where we can reach out, speak openly about our issues, seek help, and feel better. The walls surrounding these topics seem to be breaking down and being more transparent and open about our experiences is becoming the new normal, which is why I feel this is the perfect time and place for me to launch this project.

But let me back up for a minute. Hands up if you are a creative person that has ever experienced one of the following (keep your hand up if you're like me and have experienced ALL of the following, multiple times):

  • Fear of failure

  • Self-doubt

  • Lack of motivation

  • Jealousy

  • Insecurity about your creative future

  • Creative block

  • Overwhelmingness (Is that a even a word? Well it is now.)

  • Imposter syndrome

  • Guilt

  • Burn out

  • Pressure to succeed

I could go on...

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I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a creative person out there who hasn't experienced one or more of these things at some point in their careers. That's because just like in our personal lives, these are a natural and normal part of being creative. For me (and maybe you) however, I haven't always been as willing to admit to them, because up until a few years ago I literally thought I was the only one experiencing stuff like this. Everyone around me seemed to be kicking goals and killing it at their creative lives, 100% of the time. As much as I felt confident and proud about my place in the creative industry, I was scared to admit that I sometimes had other feelings about it all too. I wanted everyone to see me like I saw them, killing it and kicking goals. I also didn't want to whine about feelings and how hard things could be, despite being privileged enough to be able to do craft every day and get paid for it. So I never addressed any of these issues or reached out for help when I needed it. Over time this caused all sorts of turmoil for me, including a mega dose of creative block which crippled me on and off for the better part of 2 years. 

Somewhere in the midst of that gross phase I was invited to speak at a design conference. Rather than showing a highlights reel of my portfolio, which seemed like the safe thing to do, I decided to take the plunge and be honest about some of the things I'd been going through that year. I don't know why I to choose to bare it all for the first time ever in front of an audience of over 500 people, BUT, I had been given an amazing opportunity to share my story, and felt it was important in doing so to shine a light not just on my creative achievements, but also the realities, good and bad, of my creative life. So I did it, and guess what, it didn't bomb! The feedback was so encouraging. Many people reached out to tell me they had been through similar things and experienced this stuff on the regular too! The solidarity that I felt in knowing I wasn't alone in these experiences was so wonderful. Over the years since I have been making more of an effort to be open and realistic about creative wellbeing and how I am feeling. The more I do it, the more normal it feels, and each time I realise I am not alone and that the dialogue I am having with others is helping me to build an arsenal of amazing tools to assist me in leading a happy and healthy existence as a creative person.  

Real Talk Project by Kitiya Palaskas.gif

So, what is Real Talk exactly? Well, it's the culmination of my efforts to be more real about creative life. Real Talk is a safe space for open dialogue about creative wellbeing, structured around a different theme every month. It's a place to share insights and experiences about all the feelings-y things we go through and how to manage them in our day-to-day creative lives. It's also a platform to share inspiring stories and valuable resources from all over the place. I should probably insert some sort of disclaimer at this point so here goes: I'm not a medical professional, nor am I an expert on these topics outside of my own personal experiences. I'm just a gal with lots of feelings trying to make sense of everything so it doesn't get in the way of me making stuff. I'm also not trying to re-invent the wheel with this project. I know there's already heaps of great stuff out there about this so I'm going to try and find all the best bits of that and share it here too. Alongside this I'll be sharing original content (thoughts, opinions, stories) by me and a bunch of creative people I know and love, and also YOU if you're interested (hit me up)!

I really want to form a community around this project, and encourage you to share your own thoughts and experiences by commenting on posts here and on social media. What Real Talk won't be is a place for judgement, or calling out, I want everyone to feel they have a voice within this community and that they can confidently share their stories to a like-minded audience that is willing to hear them. Also, I love an epic rant as much as the next person, but will aim to keep my content empowering and constructive, even if we are talking about things that can be painful, frustrating or negative. If at any time you have thoughts on how we can improve what we're doing here and make it more valuable for everyone, please don't feel shy to speak up. 

Anyway, thank you for taking the time to read our first post. To stay in the loop about what's coming, including an announcement about our first theme, follow us on Instagram (@real.talk.project) and sign up to our mailing list via the form below. 

Thank you so much for being here, I can't wait to get the ball rolling and see where this project takes us!

Speak soon,

Real talk Project by Kitiya palaskas.png
 

Get some Real Talk in your inbox!

Real Talk is an online wellbeing project for creative people, written and curated by me! Through a monthly newsletter we share original articles (like this one) and exclusive curated content that we feel will compliment the topics we’re discussing in our articles. Things like TED talks, podcast episodes, videos, wellbeing exercises, worksheets and many more inspiring resources. Sign up to our newsletter to get your monthly dose of Real Talk and be empowered to improve your wellbeing so that you can lead your best creative life!