Anyone can suffer from creative fatigue. Even inherently creative people are not immune, and the majority of professionals will go through a creative downturn at some point in their lives. So, what should you do when you've expended all of your creative energy and need to recharge?
Taking a mental or physical break may sound like the ideal remedy, but if you rely on your creativity to pay your monthly bills, this may not be the best option. If you’ve found yourself in this situation don't worry, there are tactics you can use to get back into action when your creative enthusiasm wanes.
The first step towards surviving creative burnout is recognising that you are experiencing it. Remember that burnout is not the same for everyone, and you may be suffering from it without even realising it.
You may find yourself lacking motivation to begin or complete your work. Perhaps you no longer enjoy doing personal creative projects and begin to dislike everything you create. What was once a fun hobby for you is now a source of anxiety, migraines, and stress.
Acknowledge the feeling and put yourself first
Accept that your feelings are valid and that what you are experiencing is normal. Don't feel obligated to keep up with other creators around you. Everyone is at a different stage of their journey and draws inspiration from a different source—and so do you! You must quit being hard on yourself and refrain from comparing yourself to others in order to focus on your own ambitions.
Simply take a rest
Feeling burned out indicates that your mind simply needs a break. Get some rest and step away from your creative projects for a while.
Trying to force yourself to be creative will only make matters worse, especially if you aren't emotionally and physically rested. Plan a quick trip or pamper day, spend time with friends and family, or pursue another interest. Stop working every now and your mind and body will thank you!
Set a work-life balance
Do you have more client inquiries? Are you booked out for the month? Do you have “me” time in your weekly schedule? It may be difficult to say no to opportunities, but remember that being a creator requires you to be laser-focused. You simply cannot achieve greatness if your mind is not focused on it.
Learn how to say no and determine how many projects you can reasonably complete in a month. Your monthly calendar should strike the proper balance between business and your personal life. Restructure your work habits and make your well-being a weekly priority.
"When you’re saying YES to everything and you’re overly booked, you’re not able to give your best to your clients. You have to be very conscious in the moment of when you receive an inquiry and it’s not the right fit, you need to say no to that. You have to work out what you can realistically say yes to. I know the money can be really good but if you’re working so much that you don’t even have time to enjoy your money at the end of the day, you’re working maybe 5-7 days a week, on weekends, late at night, and you wonder why you’re not happy in your business then what’s the point."
Define your personal and business goals
Clearly define what you want and don't want to do, as well as what you are and are not capable of doing. If you are burned out, it could be because you have not established your goals and have no idea what you want to accomplish in the future.
You can ask yourself these questions for a start:
Determine what you truly want to achieve in your personal life and in the creative field, and check if they are compatible. Evaluate what works for you and eliminate anything that does not in your current situation.
Bonus: Talk to your partner, a family member, or a close friend to guide you in coming up with a goal.
"What helps me also is to sit down with my husband and talk about our business and life goals. Just having clarity about what you actually want, what you don't want, and what you are and are not capable of doing helps so so much. I think Summer is a great time to spend some time in the evening with someone you trust and who supports you and talk to them about all these things, including your struggles and worries. Because I find it hard to work on my goals alone, having someone to help me bring the words out is absolutely one of the most helpful things I can do."
Take small steps
Don't try to force your creativity. You can begin with simple exercises or routines that will spark your imagination. You can accomplish the following:
Start creating and learning from the experience
Take out your camera and dig into your prop stash if you think you are ready to create again. Also bear in mind the things you’ve learned along the way. Plan your weekly schedule and organise your workload effectively while also giving priority to your personal life.
Creative burnout can be a valuable learning experience. You will learn how to appreciate yourself and reflect on your goals, which will help you advance both your career and personal life. Establishing healthy work-life boundaries will help to avoid experiencing creative fatigue again in the future.
Read our blog Practicing the art of self-care through creative expression be inspired on how you can express your feelings through creative mediums to overcome hardships and improve mental health.
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