SOS! Tips For Kicking Burnout

Hannah Wei Photography

Hannah Wei Photography

Let’s face it, burnout is the worst!

It’s the kiss of death for any artistic project, making your creativity vanish right when you need it most. But how do you avoid burnout as a modern artist hustling between 1-3 jobs, creating projects, having a family, and hours of inevitable “adulting”?!

In a society that celebrates a workaholic attitude burnout feels like a necessary evil. Here’s how you can kick burnout for good, which is pretty punk rock.

How To Tell If You Are Burnt Out?

There are numerous ways burnout manifest itself. Most artist know because their creativity dries up. Burnout is much more than writer’s block or needing the creative juices to flow. Burnout is a result of overworking and extending yourself so much that it affects your mental and physical health. If you are burnt out you have been overworking for way too long.

As creatives we have to take extra care of ourselves because our precious, fickle, fragile creativity will be the first thing to go. Burnout can also manifest itself as irritability, exhaustion, loss of appetite, depression or like your soul is dying a slow death. 

Get Some Sleep

Christopher Jolly Photography

Christopher Jolly Photography

How much sleep have you been getting? It sounds simple but getting enough sleep is a hallmark of human health. Our society does not value sleep. We believe we will get more done if we sacrifice sleep but that is not how the human body operates. You will get more done with more clarity of mind if you prioritize a good night's rest over “getting it all done.”

For me, I feel significantly more creative after I am well rested. I have never had a creative ah-ha moment while running on 4.5 hours of sleep and 3 venti lattes. If you are not taking care of your body, you are not taking care of your creativity. You need sleep. Period. 

The less sleep you are getting the less productive, creative, happy, and sane you will feel. Start  setting a firm bedtime that allows you to get 6-8 hours of sleep. I set a reminder on my google calendar app reminding me an hour before “bedtime.” This helps me to break out of whatever project I am in to start my nightly routine and unwind.

If you can’t get your brain to stop spinning then try limiting your electronic use, read a book or meditate before bed. Taking even a few minutes to get your brain prepared for sleep will help you have a more restful night. You could even try a sleep monitoring app through your fitbit to help you become aware of your sleep patterns. 

Set Boundaries With Your Time

Aron Visuals Photography

Aron Visuals Photography

Think about your last week or month. When was the last time you planned time to relax, exercise, or do something fun with friends? Have you cancelled these important moments to cram for a deadline, stay late at work or pick up another shift at your side hustle? Overworking is ingrained into us but is it is bad for our health and our creativity.

So the best way to stop the cycle of overworking is to set boundaries with your time. Make sure you are planning, yes planning, time in your schedule for relaxing. Pull up your google calendar right now and plan at least 1 hour this week to relax. Get a massage, go to your favorite rock climbing gym, or pick up that great book you haven't “had time” to finish. 

Enforce your boundaries by saying “no,” “I have plans,” or “that’s a hard pass, Rick.” Chances are you’re overextending yourself because you’re not saying NO enough. If a coworker ask you to pick up a shift or to help them with a project, say no!

Set a firm end time to your work day. If staying after hours to work is hard for you then see if a co-worker will be your accountability buddy and leave work together. If you have a passion project to finish outside of your work schedule then plan a specific time frame to work on it and keep it. Don’t go over.  

If you want more time for your passion projects consider eliminating one side hustle shift or commitment to free up some time. When we feel stressed or tight on money it can be hard to justify taking a little time off. Remember your body and soul needs the time to rest. The rest will pay off.

Take a Fun Break

Priscilla Du Preez Photography

Priscilla Du Preez Photography

When your livelihood depends on your creative performance it is distressing when you are affected by burnout. Breathe, it’s okay. All you may need is to take a break. It can be as simple as stepping away from your computer, doing something fun or signing up for an exciting class. It’s OKAY to take a break, it could be the best way to cultivate your creativity.

Often times people experience breakthroughs while doing something fun! When you take a break to have fun your brain is able to relax making you more receptive to new ideas. Maybe plan a girls night out this week, see a comedy show or sign up to for that hobbyist workshop you have been wanting to try! Something that gets you excited to try something new! This may sound unproductive but it could be your breakthrough.

 In the end burnout is the consequence of overdoing it. Your health and wellbeing directly affect your productivity and creativity, so take care of yourself. Don’t be afraid to say no, plan some “me time,” have fun or take that nap you’ve wanted all day.

Remember burnout is temporary and overcoming it can be simple and fun.