Insanity 2: The Price of Pushing the Limits

When working on a project as involving as Insanity 2, I find it difficult to detach myself from the project at the end of the day. As a result, 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 wellbeing (and sociability!).

Sidenote: Fay Wong is the next participant in #Woodchat’s Telephone Game Design Experiment. She will present her design October 16, 2013 at 7pm.


11 thoughts on “Insanity 2: The Price of Pushing the Limits

  1. Interesting post. For me, woodworking is my wellness break. Like you, I often work in long uninterrupted sessions where I lose track of time. Since I do not woodwork for a living, I find losing my self in creative work involving my hands to be physically and mentally healthful. I suspect other hobbyists feel the same way.

    1. Scott,

      Yes, I suppose that for many of my readers, the act of losing yourself in the workshop is your wellness break. The point to take away is that it is important to maintain a sense of balance.


      1. Shop time is certainly my wellness break from the rest of life’s craziness…My issue is being able to transition back out of “shop mode” once I leave. Not having internet in the shop makes it more difficult as most of my research/design happens in the house and for me, physically leaving the project behind is about the only way to get my mind back into daily life.

        I plan to someday run proper wiring to the shop (replace the extension cord) and think I should probably lay Ethernet cable as well so that I can also do design work in the shop.

        Awesome post and great discussion.

  2. I ride my bike Chris. Gets me out in the air, and my focus is just on fun. Also a glass of wine helps me mellow on the patio..hehe. Morgans rule… If you work hard, you should play hard!

    1. Morgan,

      I will start asking myself, “What would Morgan do?” Maybe I’ll think about changing my schedule so that I have more free time during the daylight hours (for cycling, etc) and spend more of the dark winter hours in the shop.


  3. I agree with all your mothers points, but like you I don’t listen to them. Somedays I realize I haven’t eaten anything all day and it’ll be 2-3pm. Posting on twitter is break like for me, as I don’t take breaks and eat while I work when I remember to eat. Somehow I always remember coffee tho. The one thing I’d add is stretching. I don’t always eat but I always stretch before I start working and every couple hours while working.


  4. Hi Chris,

    I can relate to your situation because I tend to obsess about things I build. I have to eat regularly or I get stupid; seriously stupid. I make sure to eat breakfast and think about what I want to accomplish in the shop. I take my second cup of coffee to the shop and get to work. Break for lunch and again try to plan your afternoon. Try not to over schedule your time. It takes as long as it takes. Good luck.

    Mark Schuermann

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