Burnout—More Than A Creative Problem.
After a post I made on Instagram, I realized how many of my followers struggle with the same thing I do: burnout. If you're new to the condition, it's the wrung-out feeling of overwork. Creativity becomes elusive, exhaustion takes over, and stress stress stress.
Burnout doesn’t only affect your mental state, it digs into the body and hollows it out. Stress has long been studied for its physical effects and burnout plays in the same pen. The lethargy and lack of interest make it harder to take care of oneself in a way similar to depression—causing things like disturbing sleep, not eating/eating too much, difficulty concentrating, and physical pain often as stomach upset and headaches. Even the Mayo Clinic has warnings on burnout:
Consequences of job burnout
Ignored or unaddressed job burnout can have significant consequences, including:
- Excessive stress
- Sadness, anger or irritability
- Alcohol or substance misuse
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Vulnerability to illnesses
Creative entrepreneurs are at high risk for burnout in part because we are our own bosses with high expectations, deadlines, and no one else to pick up the slack. We drive our business and feel like a single day off will harm our sales, put us behind schedule, and even damage our brand. There is constant pressure to “hustle” and focus on productivity as the only measure of daily success.
So, what do we do? First, take a @#*$ing break. Not everyone can take a week off but try even a weekend. Unplug, get out of the house, find a walk through the trees, and for the love of cookies, get some sleep. Talk to your friends and others you trust. If you’re worried about productivity, then work burnout recovery in as a goal. Track your activities and mood score, see if you can pinpoint the best methods to help you reset, whether that be from meditation, a puzzle, or rage yoga. Not that I do any of that…
If you’re dreading work, take an evening and sit quietly by yourself (I prefer in the dark so there are no visual distractions to remind me of the work I’ve not done) and listen to your body. Feel the tension in your muscles, the thoughts that come up time and again, the sense of worry. Honor those signs that burnout is either close or already upon you. Most of all, don’t ignore it. Don’t push it off any longer than absolutely necessary. Sometimes, yes, we must push to meet a deadline, but then stop. Breathe. Rest.
Remember, creatives aren’t the only ones who face this. Any job with high expectations, too much pressure both at work and at home, and a lack of support and control can all lead to the same match burning up to your fingers. If you’re a millennial, we’re becoming known as the burnout generation and it’s not hard to see why. Definitely read the Buzzfeed article here.
You’ve already taken a first important step towards healing and keeping burnout from stealing your zest for life: awareness. You know it’s there, you know what it is and how to recognize it. Most importantly, however, you must learn that your worth has nothing to do with what you produce.
You are incredible. Treat yourself as I will: with love, understanding, and as a freaking cheerleader for your wellbeing.