No matter how fulfilling your creative work is, burnout happens to all of us. Creativity is not an infinite resource, no matter how productive you normally are. It’s normal to see it ebb and flow. However, feeling stuck, bored, or overwhelmed with your work can take a toll on your mental and physical health. If this sounds like you, here are some ways to cope with creative burnout.

How to tell if you’re suffering from creative burnout

First, identify if what you’re feeling actually is creative burnout. Here are the most common signs of creative burnout:

  • Unusual procrastination
  • Reduced confidence
  • Physical tiredness
  • Irritability or defensiveness
  • Dreading work
  • Negative self-talk
  • Perfectionism and “comparison-itis”
  • Imbalanced consumption compared to production

One of these feelings now and then usually isn’t a problem, but if you’ve been noticing a consistent pattern of a combination of these feelings, you may be suffering from creative burnout.

It might not be easy to come to terms with, but it’s not a reflection of you or your capabilities. Creative burnout happens to everyone, and there are ways to cope with it.

Take breaks

When we feel overwhelmed or stuck in a rut, taking a good break can help refresh the mind and remind us of the other things that fill our lives. Do something enjoyable that has nothing to do with your creative work, such as reading a book, gardening, going for a long hike, or taking a weekend vacation with a loved one. Release yourself from the pressure to create for a day or two, and see if the breathing room helps reduce anxiety about your work.

Do something small

Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees. If getting too macro is overwhelming, try doing one small thing in your project. For example, if you’re planning to film a YouTube product tutorial for your hair brand and have a lot of things on your to-do list, start with the smallest thing. Instead of writing the entire script for the voiceover, jot down some key points. Or instead of worrying about all the videos you have to film, decide on the products you want to feature in just one video. Taking one small step in any direction can help us to overcome “analysis paralysis.”

Do something different

If you’re trying and trying to make a project work and it’s just not happening, it could be useful to do something in an entirely different creative field. Put down the camera and try sketching or journaling. You can even explore something you never thought you’d try, like a woodworking class. Creativity isn’t limited to just one domain, and sometimes we can find inspiration in places where we least expect them.

Boost your confidence

Feeling uninspired is one thing, but feeling like you simply aren’t good at what you do can be severely demoralizing. If you feel like your work isn’t good enough, there’s no shame in purposely revisiting your successes. Reread testimonials from happy customers, remind yourself of any awards or accolades you’ve received, go back and look at old work that you’re proud of. When we’re burnt out, it can easily feel like it’ll last forever and the spark won’t return, but reminding yourself of your abilities can help you realize that the feeling is temporary.

Turn to your trusted people

Creative burnout can make us feel like we’re too much in our own heads, and we can lose objectivity. If you’re experiencing creative burnout, turn to your trusted friends and loved ones for help. This help can come in the form of a good venting session, straightforward advice, or it can even simply be someone to do something fun with. There’s no shame in reaching out for help – we’ve all been there!

Honestly assess your situation

When you’re feeling burnt out, it may not always be easy to pinpoint the reason. But you might be surprised at what you can adjust in your life to reduce the stress. Take some time to honestly assess your schedule, environment, and overall work situation. Is there something you can change that would make things easier? Maybe your work location is distractingly loud. Maybe you’re so tired from a long commute that you have no energy to be creative. You may not be able to indulge in total upheaval, but there might be something you can tweak to put you back on track.

Creativity is dynamic and energizing, and we can feel powerless when we experience burnout. But the good news is that bringing freedom back into your creative life is possible. Want some creative inspiration? Key Design & Media is a full-service beauty creative agency that takes some of the pressure off our clients’ shoulders. We partner with local, national and international brands and agencies on creative content for hair and beauty. Get in touch today to find out more!

Samantha Garner