According to a German study, 65% of freelancers have experienced burnout related symptoms, compared to 43% of traditional employees. In other words, burnout amongst creative freelancers is far too common.
I remember my first experience with burn-out. In fact, I remember it so vividly that I wrote about it for an online magazine called Author Magazine.
I wanted you to know that I've been there too, because if you're experiencing burnout right now, then it's important that you know that you're definitely not alone, and there's a way out.
The most important part of getting rid of burn-out is being able to detect it before it starts. There are so many definitions out there for the word 'creative burnout', although Julya Buhain puts it best:
"Creative burnout can be defined as the heavy feeling of exhaustion, and lack of interest in the work that you do. "
Sounds pretty awful, am I right? Fortunately, it's possible to stop burnout in its tracks! Here are seven steps you can take the next time burn-out rears its ugly little head.
1) Don't be too hard on yourself
The minute your productivity levels die down, and you start vacantly staring at the screen, don't feel guilty about not working. It will only make things worse!
Instead, take a second to take a deep breath, and pay close attention to what's making you feel burnt out in the first place.
Get to know the cause of your burnout, accept it, and then take as much time as you need to recharge.
I know what you're probably thinking:
I need to get my work done! What about my work?
Believe me, I totally get it, because I live in a culture where working as many hours as possible is a badge of honor. However, here are two things you need to keep in mind:
- The most productive nations in the world also have the shortest work days.
- Two years ago, the Social Market Foundation in the UK did a study, which revealed that happier employees are a lot more productive in the workplace.
2) Get some exercise
Someone, at some point in your life, has likely told you that exercise is good for your health. But guess what else it's also good for? Productivity.
Next time you feel burn-out, go for a walk, do some stretches, run around the block, or whatever exercise routine you're comfortable with and/or have time for.
For instance, I often begin or end my day with a run, and it helps me do everything from getting a good night's sleep, to getting out of a creative slump. As a result, I'm continuously motivated to keep myself as physically active as possible.
Too busy to plan out an elaborate exercise routine? That's okay! That's where stretches and things like jumping jacks can really come in handy.
3) Disconnect for a little while
There's a reason why I just discussed the importance of exercise: it forces you to disconnect from your computer and all other devices for a little while. And that disconnect is really good for you.
Not only does this prevent eye strain, but it also makes you a lot more creative and productive. When you start to feel burnt out, take a 20-minute minimum break from staring at your computer screen, and that should make a world of difference.
Disconnect from all your devices, your smartphone, your tablet, your laptop, everything, and you'll allow your brain to wander, be free and think creatively.
Don't go on Facebook. Don't check out the latest Tweets. Just go outside, and interact with actual human beings the old-fashioned way.
I get it. Smartphone pop-ups are super enticing but you don't always have to listen to them.
4) Spend time with non-toxic loved ones
My personal and professional life changed when I learned to be a lot more picky about who I choose to spend time with, and who I choose to open up to.
Why? Because suddenly, in both the good times and the bad, I had only people who lifted up my spirits loyally standing by and cheering me on. The same principle applies to burnout.
People that inspire you to be the best version of yourself are the perfect cure for burnout.
Not only will they give you a sense of perspective, but they also encourage you to push yourself towards being the best possible version of yourself.
If this is something that you're lacking, then you might want to check out my blog post on how creative entrepreneurs can make friends with like-minded people.
5) Do activities (not affiliated with work) that recharge your batteries
When burnout happens do activities that recharge your batteries. What that really means is slightly different for everyone.
If you haven't already done so, get to know what activities recharge your batteries, and whenever you feel burnt out, take a break to do whatever that activity happens to be, for a short period of time.
Recharging your batteries might involve talking to a good friend, putting on a specific record, playing a video game, etc.
6) Change up your routine
If one approach is burning you out, try a new one. Sometimes burnout is a sign that your routine isn't working for you.
When burnout strikes make a list, or talk to someone you care about, about what is and isn't working in your everyday routine. Get rid of the not so great parts, and never, ever change the parts of your routine that are enhancing your productivity.
Future you will thank you for helping make it possible for them to get a lot more done on a daily basis.
Another great way to change up your routine is to try something new. Try anything new. A new class. A new gym. Anything!
7) Change up your environment
Every time I travel, I'm reminded of what a huge difference changing your environment can make.
Often, I feel the "I need time off" feeling, and I actually do something about it, a new environment allows me to get a lot of work done, because of all the excitement of the unfamiliar sights and sounds around me.
Changing up your environment doesn't even have to involve buying plane, train, or bus fare. It can also be something as simple as trying out a new coffee shop, or bringing your work to the park when it's not too cold out.
All of the above are just a few easy ways for you to quickly recover from creative burnout.
What are some of the strategies that you use to conquer burnout? Let me know in the comment section below.
If all you really need is a really good content creator, to take over your blog or website, then let's chat about how I can help you create online content with a pulse!