This Art Is On Fire (Dealing With Burn Out)
Sometimes you work really hard on a project and then you see it take off! Which is amazing and inspiring and has all the good feelings that make creativity worthwhile. Recognition in other words, dear readers!
No matter how many artists I speak with, whether musicians, actors, visual artists or otherwise, they all say similar things about the importance of digging into the form you love with everything you’ve got and expecting a slow climb up that hill. Because while you may find opportunities right away, you also might be a victim of chance and have to wait for those accolades.
Which is legit.
This post is for those artists, the ones who wanted to succeed right away and didn’t, who work hard night and day to find their place in the world and put up their own time, potentially sacrificing their mental and physical health to do so. To carry that torch for the arts.
For everyone who has the courage to go the distance and shoot for their dreams, no matter what, this one’s for you.
Now, my original plan to start this post off right was to simply include a couple of lyrics from famous songs with the word fire in the song itself and then make a joke about the nature of fire and how it relates to success as a metaphor.
But fuck – there were like 150 plus songs to choose from, and I started to feel old once I realized that all of my “cool and new” references were from the 2000s and now effectively outdated (For instance, one of the examples I was thinking about was from the 2003 album Fire by Electric Six). So you’ll just have to accept this string of GIFs as my effort at peacekeeping – Because I’m also feeling burnt out from this process. Pun semi-intentional.
Well, interestingly enough each of those GIFs represents a different scenario of burn out. Yeah, burn out. I’m switching to something serious.
A scary topic that not a lot of people talk about because they don’t understand the full-reaching effects it can have on an individual.
Burnout is the state in which one discovers they have chronic fatigue – It usually starts with a lack of energy and feeling tired quite often. But they will likely experience other symptoms too, which might include insomnia, forgetfulness and/or impaired concentration, physical symptoms like chest pain, heart palpitations, headaches and stomach pain, weakened immune system, loss of appetite, anxiety, anger, and depression. More on the symptoms in this article.
You see, the 1st image is the guy/gal/person who decides to embrace the pain and lean into it as it overtakes them. Then you have 2nd person who experiences the loss and complains about it while not doing anything either, the 3rd person sees the signs but pretends there is nothing wrong, and the 4th person, appropriately might I add, freaks out and does something about it.
Dear readers, let me say this in the most common of terms, you want to be that 4th person. Take the time to honestly assess the state you are in, the amount of stress in your life, and find ways to reduce it before it becomes too much. While burn out is a physical problem, unlike a cold or a hangover, it doesn’t go away over a matter of days, it can take much longer, because it hits two fronts at the same time – your mind and your body.
So what’s an artist to do about it?
Well you need to douse that fire quick or if you’ve already experienced burn out, clean up the ashes and start rebuilding. But for the sake of constructive criticism and because I hate to leave you without some wisdom, I’ll give you a short list of remedies you can use (taken from this article).
- Self-care. Get your energy back through salt baths, yoga, deep breathing, long walks in nature, and positive affirmations.
- Take a break. Dial back from what you aren’t interested about and take a break until you are ready to come back. Whether it’s days, weeks, or months.
- Check your trophy room. Look back at your history and identify your successes. Stop comparing yourself to others.
- Enlist support. Hiring someone or get a friend to help out.
- Reassess your goals. Rethink your dreams, visions, and goals.
- Seek new inspiration. Visit places you normally avoid or spend time with creatives you haven’t considered before. Children for example.
- Community. Find a tribe through a class, seminar, meet-up or a studio visit.
And if you want some more resources, look here for suggestions (1 2 3 4). There is definitely a lot more to be written about this subject, and I’ve just scratched the surface, but at the end of the day, no matter what your creative role, you HAVE to take care of yourself. Inspiration and passion are good motivators but discipline requires attention as well.
Now I’m out of theories for the day friends. I hope this post finds you well, and if not, it helps you get back in shape. I’ll see you tomorrow with something timely.