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I sat down today, planning to write a blog post about creative burn out. I wanted to talk about the reasons why you might be feeling burned out creatively, and what you can do about it. As I started writing, though, I realized that this wasn’t going to fit in one post. It wasn’t going to fit in two, either. In order to say everything I feel needs to be said, this is going to be a whole series.
The reason is simple. Creative burnout comes in all sorts of noxious flavors. And just like you can’t care for a headache the same as a stomach bug, you need to care for different creative burnouts in different ways.
Today, I want to talk about the most common form of Creative Burnout. Good old fashioned life burn out.
We’re all busy. I work over 40 hours a week in my day job. I work for Haunted MTL, writing reviews and co-running our social media. I have a home to care for, a family to care for, and a me to care for. And I would like to be involved in politics at least a little, because we should all do that.
Then, I also write books and podcasts. You know, in my free time.
I am not unique. The things we need to do in a day usually take more time than the day holds. We know this, and yet we keep right on trying to shove thirty-eight hours of activities into twenty-four. Surprise, this leads to burnout.
The easiest way to deal with burn out is to avoid it in the first place. This starts by making sure that your needs are met first. Get enough sleep, eat good food, drink water. Move your body a little every day, even if it’s just a quick dance break in your kitchen. Make and keep doctor’s appointments. It’s a lot harder to get burned out if you’re well rested, full of veggies and hydrated.
The next thing I do to avoid burn out is to plan my life. You all know I’m a big fan of planning, and this is why. Take at least one day off a week. Celebrate days that matter to you by putting as much of your work away as you can. As a witch, I honor Full and New Moons, Sabbats, and the feast days of my two favorite saints. These, along with the more well known holidays, are built in breaks from work that we all need.
Of course, you don’t have to honor the same days as everyone else. It’s just important that you’re taking regularly scheduled breaks, and putting them into your planner first.
Last year, I treated myself to a course from Lisa Jacobs called the Fast Track Toolkit. This isn’t sponsored, I just really got a lot out of the course. And one of the biggest thing I learned is that I was trying to do too much at one time. I was writing huge to do lists every day, which wore on me emotionally. Even though there was no way I was going to get it all done, each item on that list was a weight on me all day. And when I consistently didn’t get the list done, I felt like I’d failed. When I really paired down all of my projects, and focused on just a few items at a time, I found that I was less stressed and got more done. If you can do this course, I suggest it.
On a similar note, I’ve all but stopped multitasking. It’s a hard habit to break, but absolutely necessary. I don’t know if I need to go into a lot of detail here, because we all know that multitasking is a bad idea by this time. Multitasking is the Millenial’s version of smoking, just in case you haven’t heard. Focusing on one task at a time is going to help you get that task done better, and with less stress.
All this being said, most people are just not going to be able to avoid burn out all the time. I absolutely understand that not everyone can do any or all the things in this post because I cannot do all the things on this post. Deadlines sneak up on us, emergencies happen. Life finds away to mess itself up. And of course, just taking care of your needs is literally impossible sometimes. Frankly, inflation is eating us all alive right now, and we have to make some hard decisions. We don’t always have the ability to have good food in the house, and are going to have to rely on cheap, fast food. We don’t all have the luxury to take a personal day from our day job. Many of us are working multiple jobs just to, you know, not starve or be homeless.
Sometimes, burnout is impossible to avoid in today’s world. And if you are burned out, it’s important to remember two things. One, it’s not your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong. And two, you are sick. You may not be physically ill yet, but you are still sick. So you need to treat yourself like you’re sick.
Sleep as much as you can. Take long showers. Eat food that fills you, physically and emotionally. Drink tea with lots of honey. Say no to literally everything you can say no to. Do this until you feel better. No matter how long that takes. Just like when you’re physically sick, if you keep pushing yourself it’s going to get worse to the point that you cannot push through. Then, it’s going to take even longer to heal.
If you ever do.
TLDR: Burn out is real, and prevention is the best medicine. If you cannot prevent it, remember that you’re sick and you need to give yourself time and care to heal.