HOW TO SURVIVE AND STRIVE THROUGH CREATIVE BURNOUT
You’re staring into space, supposed to be making something out of nothing, but nothing is coming. Creative burnout is a real thing for all types of creatives and when your career depends on your creative mindset, it can be a very stressful time trying to navigate through that lack of motivation and blank thought process. Here’s a couple things I do to stay focused and driven on a daily basis and what helps me produce my best work and ethics.
• STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER (or the notebook, instrument, canvas, etc, that is your workspace or tool to creating). Pretty much any and all of those who have written a similar post will advise to change your scenery, but it really works! The most effective way I’ve found is to go outside. The endorphins of the mind awaken in sunshine and fresh air. This doesn’t necessarily have to be to hike a mountain or run a marathon, it can be something simple like walking to the closest park or riding your bike to get a cup of coffee. If the weather isn’t in your favor during that time, there’s no better way to get lost in a different headspace than going for a drive. This is why I became an Uber driver. With Uber, you can give rides at your convenience, and it doesn’t hurt to be making a couple extra bucks while you’re taking a break from your career or passion. Uber is also a great networking opportunity and chatting with your passenger(s) could spark an idea or perspective. If you’re not in a position or mood to physically “get out”, take a productivity time-out and focus on the hobbies that rejuvenate you and make you feel alive. By redirecting your thoughts from those pending to-do’s, you will attain the courage and motivation you need to tackle your tasks. Whatever your outlet is, get out there and out of your headspace for a bit. Your creative mind will thank you later.
• TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. If I know I’m going to have a busy day ahead of me, I plan my morning by doing a little more self-care than usual to stay energized and focused throughout the day. First of all, I plan out as much as possible the night before. This means packing a lunch or snacks to last me through the next day, and even planning out what I want to wear. The less I have to focus on in the morning saves brain power. Sometimes I even like to set my alarm a little bit earlier just to focus on more side project tasks or for meditation to really set the aura for the day before I dive into the corporate creativity world. Starting your day with vitamins and a healthy breakfast helps pave the road to a healthy mind and body. Now I’m no fitness or health professional, and am definitely not one to give nutrition advice, BUT I follow a really awesome one and I can pass along what I’ve learned from her and what’s worked for me. (P.S. Her name is Courtney and she runs this really awesome blog/Instagram called Realfoodology that you should check out). I don’t want to make this into a food post, but give yourself brain food. Replace that afternoon snack of chips with a protein bar and bring a salad lunch from home instead of going to the closest fast food restaurant. Your brain fuels on all cylinders with the right nutrients.
• LOSE YOURSELF IN SOMEONE ELSE’S CREATIVITY. Pick up a book and dive into the lives of the characters within the pages. Put on a playlist or look into a new artist and really listen to the lyrics and the story behind the music. Listen to a podcast or search YouTube for content on a subject you are interested in learning more about. Dig through social media and admire what others in your realm are doing. Social media is both a blessing and a curse–it’s a marketplace for all things inspiration, but can quickly be self-destructive. And it’s important to note the difference between inspiration and comparison–don’t confuse the two.
• SET YOUR GOALS AND REWARDS. This is a great way to motivate yourself through a project or time where you’re in a creative or motivational rut. For example, make a promise to yourself that once you finish all or a portion of a project, you’ll reward yourself with ice cream or a Netflix episode. Not only is this good for self discipline, but you also feel accomplished by your results and are that much closer to being finished with a project, and hopefully the end of the dreaded creative blank.
• KEEP YOURSELF ROOTED IN A POSITIVE ENVIRONMENT. The media and news outlets of today are full of negativity, which is so accessible to our hands that it’s easy to go down the spiral of self-criticism. But if you remove yourself from the toxicity and radiate enthusiasm and a positive outlook, you’ll flourish higher and farther, especially when the going gets rough. When we cultivate and build upon our foundation with optimism and constant reassurance, we instantly feel uplifted to keep on. Surround yourself with a community that inspires and challenges you creatively. Meet other doers, makers, and dreamers at creative events, talks, or clubs, and most importantly, keep those who lift you up close.
Remember that it may not always seem like it, but creative burnout will pass and on the other side of it lies your best work yet! The blank pages of your craft will soon be filled with words and colors ready to define your legacy.