How to Handle Creative Burnout in 10 Steps

Abigail Calzada

Abigail Calzada

How To Handle Creative Burnout
Art and Illustration by Pwek Kwong

Creative burnout happens to the best of us. It is those moments of frustration when we feel like we have done everything we can think of and yet nothing is working.  It is when we’ve already tried knacking our brains out for something or anything and yet we feel like we have not done enough. This leaves us feeling broken and inadequate as artists.

This happens more frequently than we hope it would. Burnout has become a common term that we would use in the workplace. But just because almost everyone experiences this, this does not mean that it’s okay to normalize creative burnout.

Here are 10 proactive ways we can do to help us manage or even avoid creative burnout effectively.

  1. Done is better than perfect

    Keep in mind that done is always better than perfect. Learn to stop when things are good enough. Give yourself strict, yet realistic deadlines. A creative burnout occurs when the demands of the tasks at hand outweigh the resources. So before you lose control over one of the most important resources– time, learn to control those urges to get everything perfect before moving on to the next task. Commit to it! Cause DONE is BETTER than PERFECT. 
  1. Take a day off and hold it sacred

    Decide to rest. Stop yourself from thinking, or worse, from worrying about your job on rest days. You got lots of time to do that outside your time off. Really take the time to reconnect to the things that really matter. Spend time taking care of relationships. Nurture hobbies. Or just do nothing. Whatever it is. Just decide to take a break, put it on your schedule and stick to it. It’s going to do wonders not just to your career but to your well-being as a whole.
  1. Draw creative inspiration even in daily tasks

    Apply creativity even in menial daily tasks. From cleaning the apartment, organizing your studio, or washing the dishes, do something different from how you would usually do them. Color-code, Arrange stuff chronologically, be creative! This way, you stay in touch with your creativity and maybe even discover new things about yourself. Distract yourself and draw inspiration regularly from everyday things.
  1. Treat your work like a 9-to-5 job, even if it’s not.

    Set a specific time for when your should start doing your tasks and set a time for when to log off. Don’t forget to throw in some breaks in between. Setting a specific schedule will greatly improve how we manage our time and organize the tasks at hand. Discipline is key.
  1. Talk to yourself. “Why am I feeling this way?”

    The moment we feel like we’re in the “Burnout” zone, It pays to pause and ask ourselves the question of why. This is so we can narrow down the options and get a better look at what needs to be addressed. 
  1. Reduce stress

    FACT: We will never run out of stress triggers.
    Proactively manage it by learning. Nowadays, there are a lot of available sources online for strategies to battle stress. Seek them out and get the peace you deserve.

    It is important to remember that we always have the option to say NO. Easier said than done for some, but it is worth knowing that we have the power to turn down anything most especially if it puts our sanity at stake. Don’t accept too many projects at once. Learn how to politely say no.
  1. Work Away From Your Desk

    It doesn’t have to be beachfront or 5-star property. It can be your front porch, your yard, your dining space, your garden. Set-up a table, pop in some snacks, and you’re all set for new perspectives that could come from the change in environment.
  1.  Get Plenty of Sleep, Exercise, and Eat Well

    We all know the benefits of getting enough sleep, regular exercise, and a proper diet. But these are just so hard to achieve and sustain if we are not masters of our time. So practice organizing your day with efforts to include these in your routine.
  1. Talk about it

    Don’t be ashamed to talk about it with friends or family. Unloading your feelings could lighten up how you feel. Verbalizing your thoughts allow you to hear them and give you a different perspective than when you were just keeping them in your thought. Do not underestimate the support that families and friends can give you.

There are many more ways that you can battle creative burnout. The key here is to acknowledge it, accept, and trust that the creator in you CAN and WILL always be capable of rising above circumstances, all for the love of art.

Have you ever experienced being stuck in a rut? Share your journey with the community in the comment section!

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