“Burnout is what happens when you try to avoid being human for too long.”
~ Michael Gungor
Welcome to Episode 89: 10 Tips For Dealing With Creative Burnout ...
The creative industry is a highly competitive one. And as an artistic soul, you put so much time and energy, and heart into your creations. (Whatever they may be.) And these even more pressure to get it done, and done right, when your livelihood depends on it – and clients too!
No creative individual wants this to happen to them, and yet, burnout happens to almost everyone at one point or another in their life.
So, what does it mean when you wake up one day and realize you don’t have the gumption to do this anymore? How does it make you feel knowing the projects you used to deem as fun and challenging, now feel utterly pointless and drab? How do you stop feeling mentally exhausted? Overwhelmed? Underwhelmed? Languished?
That being said, here's what we will be untangling in this episode ...
… and oh so much more!
Are you ready?
Pop in your awesome earbuds and let's dive in!
Hey there Digital Glue “untanglers”! Today we’re taking a more serious note, still in the hub of mental health, by talking about creative burnout!
The creative industry is a highly competitive one. And as an artistic soul, you put so much time and energy, and heart into your creations. (Whatever they may be.) And these add even more pressure to get it done, and done right, when your livelihood depends on it – and clients too!
No creative individual wants this to happen to them, and yet, burnout happens to almost everyone at one point or another in their life. So, what does it mean when you wake up one day and realize you don’t have the gumption to do this anymore? How does it make you feel knowing the projects you used to deem as fun and challenging, now feel utterly pointless and drab? How do you stop feeling mentally exhausted? Overwhelmed? Underwhelemed? Languished?
And the question that rounds them all out …
How can you do your best to avoid it when there are oh so many factors leading you in that direction?
Just think about it for a second …
Creative burnout is not only mental, but also emotional (because you’re passionate about what you do) and physical (because of the stress and exhaustion that comes with living this lifestyle).
Symptoms can differ and can even sometimes be hard to decipher. However, here’s a few to watch out for …
There sadly is no real simple solution to dealing with creative burnout. However, it’s also not something you have to deal with alone. We’re all human and we all go through this from time-to-time, whether creative or not. So, just remember, you’re not living solo with this problem.
That being said, and despite the immense blessing of being able to live a life of creativity, it’s no real secret that an artistic life can be a trying one. There’s often a lingering feeling of no control, a lack of recognition, and even time of languish from doing the same projects on rinse n’ repeat. And that’s just the tip of the barrel.
So, when creative burnout hits hard, you need to have a plan in place of how to deal with it. A strategy (if you will) so you can find your way back to your passion of creating #AllTheThings. Because honestly, you should never give up on your dreams -you’re your business -- due to a lack of joy!
And that’s where today’s episode comes into play … featuring 10 ways to deal with and overcome creative burnout.
#1. UNDERSTAND THE “WHY” BEHIND YOUR FEELINGS.
This first tip is the most important in order to move through the others … Yes, your feelings about this are complex. But one can never solve a pain point without first understanding it. So, dig deep and get to the root of this pain then start rummaging through some ideas on how you can get those creative juices flowing again.
#2. LEARN TO RELEASE THE SHAME BEHIND THE ROADBLOCK.
As creative humans, we often imagine our creativity as our sole identity. It’s who we are. So, when we hit that mental roadblock and either cannot or do not want to create, it can feel pretty shaming. Not to mention lower our self-esteem. But don’t worry, your creativity isn’t all dried up, it’s still there. It’s just overworked or underwhelmed or plainly speaking … feeling #AllTheThings and you just forgot to stretch your creative muscles. But those mental muscles can always get back into shape.
Creativity, as we know, is a process. And so is accepting burnout – it’s just another part of the process. So, crumble that shame right up, toss it in the nearest recycling bin, uncloud your mind filled with negativity, and uninvite burnout from their stay.
#3. TAKE A BREAK AND DO SOMETHING CREATIVE – FOR FUN!
… Or something else altogether.
When being creative as a lifeline, the pressure can really start to mount. So, take the pressure off … stop worrying about perfect colour combos, compositions, or whether yesterday’s project had enough white space … and take some time to remind yourself how fun creating can really be, alongside why you chose this path in the first place.
#4. LEARN TO NOT BE SO HARD ON YOURSELF.
For better or worse, you’re always going to be your own worst critic. But you’ve achieved so much and come so far, so don’t let these rotten negative feelings damper your opinion of yourself.
#5. DON’T SHY AWAY FROM DAYS OFF …
You know that sometimes the best medicine is rest and relaxation. So, take that dose and take a day off. And when you do, use that time to reconnect with the things that really matter. And most importantly STOP yourself from thinking, or worse, worrying about what you need to get done, while taking some time to yourself. It’s not just going to do wonders for your business, but your well-being as a whole. Your mental health matters … so time block it into your schedule if you have to.
#6. REMEMBER THAT “DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT”.
I’m borrowing this exceptionally wonderful term from my amazing client Patrick Allmond from StopDoingNothing.
If we believe to be “perfect” then how will we ever learn from the mistakes if we’re not making a strong effort to grow as an individual?
Personally, I would do well to heed this advice. I often spend massive amounts of time trying to get things done “just right”, as I am a terrible over-achiever. Everything must always be double, triple and sometimes even quadruple checked before I can safely approve it, check it off my to-do list or pass it along to a client. I feel it borders on obsessive-compulsion from time to time. But that’s just how I am. I always want to put out the best quality of work no matter what I do. But that’s not perfectionism, that’s being a virtual high achiever.
So, don’t let “perfect” be the enemy of good in your life! For your sake, and of those around you. Because nothing is ever perfect. And in all reality, it’s probably already amazing, you’re just putting way too much pressure on yourself!
And speaking of perfection, a bit more on that with this next tip …
#7. HACK PERFECTIONISM.
Plain and simple folks … you can’t be a pro at everything. Even if you think otherwise. And if you are a magical unicorn of #AlltheThings ... kudos!
That being said, perfectionism destroys more dreams than it creates. Alongside being a thief of joy. This fear of not being good enough comes in many forms and disguises so take the mask off and learn how to deal with pesky perfection.
As a recovering perfectionist myself, I know all too well the negative effects. The ripples run deep and once habitual are very difficult to change.
So, rescue yourself from this deceit that perfection means ambitious. That’s a ball faced lie. And when you find yourself on the rinse n’ repeat cycle obsessing over every detail, or stressing over getting something just right, practice saying this, “okay, this is more than good enough”.
#8. LEARN TO EMBRACE THE “5-MINUTE RULE”.
You’ve heard me mention this Mel Robbins “rule” numerous times before in the realm of organization. However, it applies to everything really, even the creative process. And it’s simple really … When you know a creative project won’t take long, most tend to complete it right away so that it doesn’t get added to the dreaded to do list or gets pushed off to the point where it never gets done. So, just plainly get ‘er done and avoid putting the little things off. This way you will have more time to focus on the big things.
Implementing this simple “5-minute rule” will make a huge difference in your creative process – even if it takes a bit longer than 5 mins.
#9. AVOID LANGUISH BY RE-EVALUATING YOUR ROUTINE.
Truth be told, how you spend your day is how you spend your life! Which is why it is so especially important to carve out some daily routines. Living the creative life requires work and habits. Some may even say practice on the process itself – platforms aside.
Studies show that it takes upward of 23 days to form a new habit. Highly organized people function with routines. And so should creatives. We should implement certain times of each day for accomplishing our projects – especially when we can place ourselves in a setting that induces high levels of creative juice. So, plain and simple … find what works for you and MAKE IT STICK!
And lastly …
#10. LEARN THE MAGICAL ART OF SAYING “NO”.
Sometimes as a creative business owner we want to say YES, YES, YES to everything because it sounds exciting to us. Or we do not want to say "No, I cannot [or will not] do that" for financial reasons of keeping afloat.
I have a close business friend who says, "No is a complete sentence." And oh my word is she is right!
As for myself, it's not that I am a people-pleaser. I did not have this issue in everyday life, but I did in the early days of my business, and now I know why.
When I was in my first couple years of entrepreneurship, I felt it was necessary to accept every creative opportunity that landed on my virtual doorstep, even if it was not in my best interest. I was building a client list. I knew each client or project could possibly lead to another (and better) opportunity. I was paying my dues. I was living my dream creative life. And above all, I needed to pay my bills, but not only for life now, but to keep my golden empire above water.
Now I’ve learned to trust my gut, and if my gut feels like “uh-uh, no way girl” then I say, "No." Thankfully this doesn’t happen often, and I can usually give a solid reason, but there have been times when I have simply said, "No, that does not sound like something I can help you with." Full stop.
All in all, creative burnout can feel utterly stressful and completely devastating. So, if this is you, and you’re going through this right now or have in the past, please just know that you’re not alone. And hopefully by following some of our 10 tips today, you will start to feel better … and soon.
On the flipside, it’s also very important for you to accept not only yourself, but these tough times and feelings. There is no shame in taking a moment to slow down in order to better take care of yourself. Because you and your creativity deserve it!