Overworked, tired and frustrated? We live in a society where it’s a common occurrence, but don’t let yourself slip into a burned out state. Guest Jessica Gurr talks about how to prevent burnout below:
It’s easy when you’re working hard to think “just one more hour and then I’ll stop.” You keep going, pushing past your body’s cues telling you to give up, but damn it, you’re going to get this thing finished. When you get to that point, it’s likely your productivity will have dropped. You’re tired, flagging – not just physically, but mentally and maybe even emotionally. The work you put out is likely not to reach your normal standard and you may even be struggling to put something together at all.
This is burnout. It can manifest itself in a number of ways: if you’re stressed at work or with a task you’re trying to complete, this can seem much worse than perhaps it actually is and can take its toll on your state of mind. I would imagine that you’ve planned a lot into your calendar and not given yourself much time to relax, which will definitely contribute. Feeling irritable? Frazzled? Physically exhausted? Yeah, that’s all part of it.
Lack of sleep is something I personally don’t take seriously enough. I think most people in the creative industries are the same. We’re so busy chasing the next idea that we’re too busy to take a minute and assess what our bodies are telling us. We need rest! We’re actually doing ourselves a mischief in not getting enough sleep. Without it, your mind isn’t going to function at peak capacity.
As well as having a general feeling of being ‘burned out’, your creative thinking can suffer in a similar way. New ideas are either sub-par or non-existent. You can start to wonder why you’re still trying to do whatever it is you’re doing (career, hobbies etc) when it isn’t working, particularly if friends or peers seem super successful. However, there is one key thing to remember when you find yourself thinking this:
“Don’t compare your work-in-progress to another person’s highlight reel.”
I can’t remember who originally quoted this, but I heard it at a creative seminar. It’s a very good piece of advice. People only put on display the work they want to showcase, for the most part. We don’t get to see the hours that went into creating it or times of insecurity that are much like you might be feeling right now; the times they thought “is this good enough?” or “should I even bother?”
Don’t let burnout get you down. Everyone goes through it, sometimes even multiple times. It can be easy to get stuck in a rut whilst you’re feeling this way. Try not to stay in this place. It takes willpower, but eventually, once you’ve rested and evaluated what might be contributing to the problem, you’ll start to get through it.
One of the best things you can do to try and overcome burnout is to occupy yourself with something else. It could be simply resting or perhaps doing another task/hobby that you’re into – something that takes your mind off whatever’s causing you grief.
Read more. Reading is something that I always find helpful. It gives you a chance to immerse yourself in another world for a while. If you’re not a great lover of books, listening to an audiobook or a podcast is another example. Some of my favourite podcasts are from Gimlet Media. They cover a variety of subjects and are really well produced.
Soak up some inspiration. Go outside: spend an afternoon in a local park or wander around your city. Find the hidden beauty that you haven’t noticed until now. Maybe go to an exhibition or art show. You never know what you might see that’ll inspire you.
Try something new. Learning a new craft or hobby engages different parts of your brain and can be a very rewarding experience. Go take a look at Skillshare – they offer some really good courses on a ton of different subjects, so that thing you’ve always wanted to do, but never really had the time – now is the time to try it.
Participate in a sport. This is not only good for your body, but it’s good for your mind, too. It’ll give your brain a boost of endorphins and a chance to blow off steam. A high intensity activity like crossfit or parkour will give you goals to help you achieve a much needed boost of positivity. For a more relaxed workout, give pilates a try.
Talk. It might be that all you need is to talk with someone about what’s blocking you. Going out with friends or meeting a peer for coffee can offer the opportunity to air your feelings, get them out of your head to analyse in a better way. As well as that, they’ll give you another perspective on the matter and maybe even a potential solution to the issue.
If you give yourself some time away from the problem, you’ll come back to it fresher and with new ideas that will assist in overcoming that obstacle. Try setting some goals to get you back on track. Having daily tasks to work towards will give you something to focus on. Most importantly, keep this in mind: Don’t give up. Keep trying. Eventually, you’ll work through this and find your inspiration again.
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