Creative burnout: How to deal with this growing problem
The creative industry is a catch 22 - you get to show your creativity and love using that side of your brain - but always having to keep the creativity on is like a light bulb. Eventually, that light bulb will burn out and need to be replaced, but what about days or even weeks that you are not able to flip the switch?
This is creative burnout, and in our industry, dealing with creative burnout is frustrating but common. This feeling can occur in a number of skills from content marketing and social media management to video marketing and graphic design. Burnout has a bad habit of smothering the creative process and fire.
The first thing to understand and acknowledge is the feelings of burnout.
What is burnout?
The World Health Organization states that burnout has increased over time and is now in the International Classification of Diseases handbook. Burnout is feelings of cynicism, lack of satisfaction, mental and physical fatigue, a lack of concentration and dragging yourself to work each and every day, and this is more common than many may realize, especially with COVID-19.
The reality of dealing with creative burnout can be difficult, a creative might not realize they are burnout until they are at their breaking point, but part of dealing with creative burnout is catching it before it gets that bad.
If you find yourself simply disengaged from your work and going through the motions each and every day, here are ways to start to feel engaged and back in the grove with your creative side.
Creative industry burnout solutions
Look out for one another: While this can be harder while remote working, once you have experienced burnout symptoms, it is easier to see it in others. If you notice that a co-worker or a work friend has been indulging in risky behavior or distancing themselves from work and others, check on them. It could be a simple slack or asking if they want to have a zoom meeting.
Set boundaries and stick to them: it isn’t enough to set boundaries, but you have to stick to them to make sure to avoid burnout. For many creatives, especially small business owners, it can be difficult to not let everyone bombard you with tasks, help and even more. It is important to understand when to say no and not take on more work. These are some great ways to set healthy and professional boundaries at work that you can stick to over time.
Understand your limitations: In the creative industry, job demands and always one-upping the last post or design is a challenge. This can cause a lack of motivation, energy or stunt creativity. It is important to know your own limitations and empower yourself with resources. One can set themselves daily goals of only working from 9-6 with an hour lunch in the day or taking their PTO more often than saving it all for a big trip. When is your best time to focus? It could be beneficial to ask management if you can work during those hours, especially when working from home.
Find an outlet that isn’t relevant to your professional life: For many creatives, they live and breathe their creativity, but this quickens the burnout syndrome. After a burnout, you will find yourself right back into that same hobby or design, but don’t rush back. Find a new creative outlet, and at work, find a new process or even program that provides a new and exciting way to do the same work!
While burnout happens, it is important to find outlets and ways to avoid this feeling. Keep checking in with yourself during these times, and make sure to acknowledge when you are starting to feel burnt out.
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