Burnout. It can happen to any of us. In any field. Often, at the worst possible time. It strikes without warning and with an uncertain expiration date. And when it hits, it threatens to grind your business, and you, to a halt.
This is particularly awful to those of us in the creative field. After all, many of us entered this field because it was our passion. And when burnout happens – whether due to working too much, family or personal obligations, health-related matters, 9,000 apps vying for your attention, and so on – it suddenly puts the thing you love most which also happens to be your source of income just out of reach.
So how can you mitigate burnout? We asked this question in our community to see what crafters just like you do when burnout hits. Here are some themes that we found in their responses:
Sometimes, all it takes is a new greenery stem or a fun, quirky new vase to spark inspiration and get us crafting again! Even if you don’t make a purchase, going to a store to window shop gets you out of your work space and allows you to discover potential new ideas.
Try a New Craft/Hobby
Most of us became creatives after finding joy in creating in/with our preferred medium. We were good at it, became great at it and turned it into a business. But often, when something we are passionate about becomes the means to paying the bills, it can lose its spark. Find a new, relatively easy/low cost entry hobby or craft to try! I suggest not going into it with the goal that it will further enhance your main business skills (though that is likely to happen organically) but do it just so you have something to look forward to in the creative space.
One of the big goals when experiencing burnout is to ignite your imagination and to find new ways of looking at things. Collaborative games, board games and puzzles are incredibly helpful at sharpening your creativity and expanding your imagination (with a bonus of just being fun!).
It is also helpful to get your body up and moving around to get unstuck! Literally shake it off by putting on your favorite tune and dancing around or going for a walk.
Hop on the Internet
Burnout can be expressed in many different ways and when it manifests itself as a blank mind with no ideas of what to make, going to Pinterest and Instagram can be exceedingly helpful in providing inspiration! Pop in some search words or hashtags of a style you want to work with and let that start you down a refreshing rabbit hole of images and ideas.
When the creativity just isn’t there, you can switch your focus to the more mundane or logistical parts of your business. Update your website or respond to emails. Work on scheduling consults or your monthly accounting. Count inventory or order needed supplies.
Create a checklist on paper or in a spreadsheet of non-creative tasks that need to be done in a day and keep it to under 3 items if at all possible. Once you can cross those off the list, you will be able to see the progress you have made!
For many, a cluttered space can lend itself to a cluttered mind. I find that when my craft room is extra chaotic, I lose focus on what I am creating and look around to what I should be doing to clean up. Take a break or a full day to organize your area. You may even find some crafty items that you had forgotten about to help reenergize you!
As entrepreneurs, we often feel like we have to do everything and if we can’t, we have failed. That is not the case! Check your to-do list and see if there are any tasks that you can share with others. It may be that you are able to hold onto all your business tasks for the day but things in your personal life need to be shared. Or, family is over and they can help with the more simple creative tasks like stemming flowers or pulling/compiling what you need for a project. While we have the mentality and the ability to do many things, sometimes everything, we don’t HAVE to in order to be successful.
It is okay to take a break. And it is okay if that break needs to be 15 minutes, a full day or a full week. We live in a society where we are heralded for always being on the go but that is almost never fully sustainable. Our bodies and our minds need time to reset and engage in self-care. There are many forms of self-care to explore and you need to choose something that focuses on you and what you find most beneficial.
…And Come Back
Find pockets of time when you feel your most creative. Whether it be early in the morning, during a lunch break or late at night, there is a time when ideas and motivation to actually do align. Creatives can’t be expected to be “on” for 8+ hours. Using that part of your brain is mentally and can be physically exhausting. Working in shorter flashes of time can help to prolong the total time you are able to create in a day.
Burnout is always looming over us. When it hits, we can feel paralyzed. Our hope is that one or several of these ideas above can help you to overcome it and get back to what you love - creating.
Is there anything we’ve left off this list? Please share any additional thoughts of what can help in the comments!