Creative Burnout : How to identify it and how to Avoid It
The definition of burnout is described as “a psychological syndrome emerging as a prolonged response to chronic interpersonal stressors on the job. The three key dimensions of this response are an overwhelming exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment from the job, and a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.”
In the millennial economy, most people I know are familiar with this unpleasant, alienating experience as it relates to their work. As with any type of work, this state can rear its head in your creative life. This can be really difficult because we often turn to our creative outlets for solace and motivation. Of course, when that’s no longer positive, it often feels painful and discouraging. This has definitely happened to me before and maybe it’s happened to you. Here are some things to consider when you ride out the storm.
1 ~ Remember Who You Are
Sometimes creative burn out comes from developing a compulsive obsession with whatever project we’re working on and it begins to take over our whole lives. As a result, our identity becomes lost in the mix and our work takes its place. If you’re experiencing creative burn out, you need to take some time to yourself- no matter how dependent you’ve become on your work, it’s simply not serving you right now. Once you take a step back, I’ve found the most important thing to do is remind yourself of who you are outside of your work. What else defines you?Take some time to exercise, journal and reflect. See loved ones, listen to good music, watch good movies and eat good food. Remember the things that make you happy outside of your work. When you start to feel like yourself again, that’s when you know you’re ready to go back to whatever it was you were working on.
2 ~ Get out of Your Head
That perfectionist, neurotic, ambitious part of your brain is not always on point. Sometimes we need to hit the snooze on that part of who we are. Tunnel vision is the worst, especially when it’s about how we’re feeling about ourselves.
The worst part of creative burn out is the damage it can do to our self esteem. So get out of that negative headspace. Now that Covid is in a different phase, we can finally see people we love in person. Utilise this opportunity and spend time with those who love us for who we are in our entirety. Maybe play around with an alternative creative outlet. Get your feelings out there. Do whatever it is you need to do to get out of your current state of mind.
3 ~ Burn Out is not a Goal
We need to stop deifying burnout in society. There’s this idea that we have all been conditioned to believe that if we’re strung out, working 7 days a week and constantly hustling that that’s a good thing. It’s a sign that we’re dedicated and not just talking shit.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t buy into this for years. But after experiencing a pretty serious bout in 2020, I’ve come around to the idea that it’s not necessarily a good thing. Whether it’s Elon Musk saying that no one ever did anything great working 40 hours a week or the Mark Zuckerburg trend of people becoming hugely successful at 22, we have to screw all of it.We are not going to make good work if we’re miserable, anxious and exhausted.You deserve to enjoy what you do. You deserve the time and space to grow and evolve as an artist. Maybe you just need a goddamn break - and that’s okay.