To sign up for our daily email newsletter, CLICK HERE
Creative burnout refers to the psychic state whereby someone feels that they’ve drained all of their energy and creativity and have nothing left to draw from.
They feel tired, stressed, and dread starting work. In this state, they feel as if they’ll never create anything good again.
There are many cases where well-known celebrities in the movie and television industry exhibited creative burnout, sometimes with disastrous consequences.
For example, music superstar Beyonce revealed that she’s had multiple cases of burnout over the years, some of which resulted in canceled shows.
Another famous example is Selena Gomez, the most followed woman on Instagram. She faced grave challenges concerning burnout and recounted that she felt she always had to be holding her breath waiting for someone to judge any piece of work she was doing.
These are examples from popular figures, but even us ordinary mortals face similar challenges in our everyday lives.
Fortunately, if you want to avoid the desperation of feeling burnout in your own life, then there are some things you can do to make it less likely that you’ll ever fall prey to this dreaded condition.
Here are some of the best ways to avoid creative burnout.
1. Learn Your Limits
One of the ways in which creative burnout can be prevented is by learning what your limits are.
It’s normal to want to be operating at your best at all times, but you should understand that creativity fluctuates depending on a wide range of factors, such as sleep, stress levels, etc.
But, when you know your limits, and the things that affect your creativity levels, it’s easier to recognize when you’re not functioning at your best and what to do to get you back on track.
This way, you won’t unwittingly push yourself past your limits and toward creative burnout.
Here are some ways to help you stay within your lane:
- Avoid Perfectionism: Perfectionism is the quickest route to creative burnout. In an effort to achieve perfection, many people push themselves way past the limits. They take on too many responsibilities and have unrealistic expectations of themselves. Just remember perfect is the enemy of good. As long as you’re meeting goals, KPIs, and generating a decent ROI, you don’t have to worry about being perfect. Find what you’re good at and focus on that.
- Have Boundaries and Restrictions: A lot of creatives struggle with this since creativity doesn’t always happen during the 9-to-5 space. However, if you allow everything to run amok in your time and personal space, you’ll quickly deplete your store of creativity and burn out.
- Remove Self-Doubt: What looks like humility to one person may be self-doubt or negativity to another. As an artist, self-doubt is a self-fulfilling prophecy that you must avoid at all costs because if you let it stick around too long, it will affect your creativity and your bottom line by causing creative burnout.
2. Recognize the Early Signs of Burnout
It’s important to know the symptoms of creative burnout. But even more importantly is your ability to recognize early signs so you can take preventative measures to avoid having to experience it
Burnout can creep up on you, but not if you recognize its early signs, which include:
- Procrastination (temporary or long-term)
- Inexplicable stress
- Constant exhaustion
- Morning dread
- Unusual irritability
- Unbalanced content consumption
- Frequent headaches, stomach, or bowel problems
On their own, each of these signs is harmless. But, if you experience two or more of them at the same time (or for prolonged periods of time), then it’s time to shake things up in your work so you don’t succumb to burnout.
3. Take Regular Breaks Throughout the Day
A burnout prevention technique that is common to many artists is to take breaks at regular times in order to prevent the feeling of being overwhelmed or exhausted by all the things you have to do.
As an artist, you understand that a certain amount of stress or anxiety at work is inevitable. However, the trick is to never let it build up to such an extent that you feel burned out.
It’s important to take regular breaks regardless of how obsessed you are with the project or how well it’s coming along.
4. Go on a Short Vacation or Staycation
Whenever you feel anxiety and stress starting to mount, take some time off to recharge before getting back to your work.
Of course, a spontaneous week-long (or month-long) vacation may sound like exactly what you need, but sometimes it may not be an option for you if you are a working artist who depends on your time in the studio to pay your bills.
Still, even a very short vacation can help you bounce back if you’ve hit that wall of anxiety and stress.
You can make this a regular thing when you take time between large projects, or you can take vacations as and when you feel the need. Either way, take some time off to pamper yourself, and you’ll come back to your work with a new perspective and a rejuvenated mind.
5. Socialize Regularly
Socializing regularly is yet another way for artists to avoid the dread of burnout. You must always find ways to take time away from your creative obligations so you can recharge your batteries, and socializing is a great way to do that.
While some artists may think that allowing yourself some breathing room seems irresponsible, it’s actually a powerful way to not only help you avoid burnout but ultimately, taking time to be around other people can help to increase your productivity.
Other creatives relish the solitary space of their studio, and to them, the thought of socializing brings with it a certain level of unease.
However, humans are social animals, and you must never underestimate the power of being in relationships with other people.
It’s important to resist the temptation to hide out during major projects, which can lead to burnout. So do your best to do something social every few days.
Maintain an active life outside the studio regardless of how busy you think you are, and you’ll keep burnout at bay.
6. Exercise Regularly
Prioritize your health, stay active, and exercise regularly. Activity boosts creativity and helps to lower your stress levels.
If you find yourself constantly exhausted, physically and emotionally, exercise can help you get back into balance.
Even artists whose work is labor-intensive will find this technique helpful for helping to maintain high energy levels and keep stress at bay.
7. Practice Meditation and Other Mindful Activities
Creative burnout can be described as some type of psychic collapse. When your mind feels overwhelmed by all the things you have to do, yet you somehow still feel as if you’re not doing enough, it can be a truly frustrating and exhausting state to be in.
A study from Statista shows that there are dozens of stressful jobs in America:
If you find yourself in such a situation, it’s important that you make time for restorative activities.
Meditation and other mindful activities, such as yoga can help when you’re feeling this way.
If you can, find a beautiful place where you can reconnect with yourself. This can be in nature, in the forest, mountains, desert, or sea. However, even your bedroom can be transformed into a powerful retreat where you can go to restore your body, mind, and soul.
For those who don’t really know how to meditate or do yoga, check out one of the best online course platforms where you can find professionally-created information and tips about reducing anxiety, becoming more mindful of burnout, engaging in meditative practices, and other things that can help you maintain your energy and creativity.
After you’ve learned the material, however, you’re going to want to turn off your devices and FULLY check out to help you reach a state of calm and pull our your inner creative.
Stay away from devices, phones, the internet, etc., and make this time count as a sound investment in the longevity of your career.
8. Do Something Creative Outside of Your Work
Another effective way to stave off artist burnout is to indulge in some creative activities that aren’t related to your practice.
As artists well know, success increases demand, and when your career is in overdrive, it can lead to you feeling compelled to create more and more work, leading to burnout.
However, this can be especially hard to avoid for artists who are really high-energy and have a need to be constantly doing stuff.
If that’s you, consider doing other creative activities that have nothing to do with your work. For example, you can do things such as making homemade jewelry, friendship bracelets, holiday decorations, and so on.
If whimsical creative hobbies like the ones mentioned above aren’t your thing, you can try a wide range of other things to avoid burnout, such as giving your home a vigorous cleaning session, going for a hike, attending lectures of local nano-influencers, or even visiting an art museum to distract and inspire yourself with other people’s creativity.
No one is immune to burnout, and if you find your work leaving you feeling suffocated or claustrophobic, then temporarily shifting your focus is a great way of tricking yourself back into the mindset required to complete your work.
Anything you can do to get out of your own head for a little while will be of help, and you’ll often find that after exploring different topics outside of your scope of work, you soon get your courage back.
Pro Tip: You can use this free animation software to learn a new skill that might come in handy in future projects.
9. Evolve Your Relationship with Your Work
You need to realize that your creative art might be a job and that’s okay. You’ll have an easier time unlocking the stress cycle if you recognize that artmaking can shift from being your personal passion to becoming a viable career.
This is particularly important to understand if you have been using art as a way to deal with anxiety or to keep overwhelming feelings at bay.
In such a situation, the creation of art itself, together with its professional demands, often becomes the main source of stress for the creative.
For most people, art either puts food on the table or feeds the soul – they don’t see how it can do both. That confusion often leads to feelings of worry that ideas and inspiration will be lost, but that just isn’t true.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone tell me they feel they sacrificed their artistic passion for money or “sold their soul to the man.” But this is all a matter of perspective. A great artist can also learn how to creat great graphic design imagery and become a branding guru.
Better yet, they can both love making money from their logos and images and still embrace the artistic passion that comes from creating something new.
You can even take it a step further and build a website where you can sell your art and artistic services directly to your friends, fans, and followers while building brand ambassadors, evangelical marketers, and recurring customers.
A lucrative side hustle can often be exactly what you need to get that that creative spark reignited.
10. Don’t Be the Tortured Artist
Over the course of history, many artists have fallen for the romanticized notion of “the tortured artist”.
From artists and painters to musicians and every other creative person in between, there are countless examples of individuals whose amazing work seemed to explode from stress, anxiety, despair, overwork, or some other disaster they were experiencing in their lives.
This has led to so many artists believing that suffering is good for their work or that the suffering in their lives caused their art to be great.
This couldn’t be further from the truth, and most people learn this lesson the hard way – some after finding themselves hospitalized for some stress-induced illness, and others when faced with burnout because they forced themselves to soldier on, even when the circumstances dictated that they should take a break and focus on getting back in balance first.
The bottom line is that you don’t have to be in physical, mental, or emotional pain in order to do great work.
In fact, when you’re feeling good about yourself, you have more ready access to all the feelings you need to express.
For creatives, the line between career and passion, work and play, is often nonexistent, and for them, the threat of burnout is especially disastrous when the thing that brought them so much joy suddenly becomes a source of anxiety and stress.
While there isn’t a simple solution to this issue, there are certain steps you can take to help you start feeling better.
If you are feeling as if your creative tap is running dry, then use the tips outlined in this article to help you avoid creative burnout and get more from your artmaking.
Did this article answer all your questions on what creative burnout is and how you can avoid it? Share your thoughts below!
Ron Stefanski is a website entrepreneur and marketing professor who has a passion for helping people create and market their own online business. You can learn more from him by visiting OneHourProfessor.com
You can also connect with him on YouTube or Linkedin.