5 ways to overcome stress and creative burnout as an artist
Ever felt like you’re on a creative roll, totally into your art, and then one day you wake up and just don’t feel like doing anything creative?
For artists, staying super productive every single day is tough. There are times when you’re like, “I can’t do this anymore,” even if you love what you do. We all go through those moments when the creative routine you usually enjoy feels like a real struggle.
This week, we reached out to our Arts to Hearts Project Instagram community, wanting to hear from them about the moments when stress, frustration, and creative burnout made an unexpected appearance in their creative lives. We wanted to know the real experiences of our fellow artists, understanding the challenges they face when the spark dims or the passion takes a temporary backseat.
The response flooded in as our community wholeheartedly shared their experiences dealing with stress, frustration, and burnout in their journeys. From heartfelt stories of overcoming creative roadblocks to practical tips on navigating these struggles.
Before we get into the solutions, let’s talk about the signs that might show you’re heading towards creative burnout. Knowing these signs early on is super important for keeping your creative journey healthy and long-lasting. Here are some simple things to watch out for:
What are the early signs of creative burnout
Creative burnout doesn’t always knock loudly; sometimes, it whispers through subtle changes. If you find yourself suddenly uninterested in activities you once loved or being excessively critical of your work, these might be the first signs. Beware of falling into the perfectionism rabbit hole, where nothing feels good enough. Another clue can be an endless cycle of scrolling through social media, including platforms like Pinterest.
What to Watch Out For:
- Loss of Interest: If your enthusiasm for creative activities takes an unexpected dip, it could be an early signal of burnout.
- Self-Criticism: Being overly harsh on your work and feeling like it’s never good enough may indicate the creeping shadow of burnout.
- Perfectionism Trap: Striving for perfection can be exhausting. If you notice an unrelenting pursuit of flawlessness, it’s time to pause.
- Social Media Overload: Constantly consuming content on platforms like Pinterest without a genuine creative output might contribute to burnout.
Take a Breather:
If you identify with these signs, consider taking a break. Step away from the creative process, engage in activities you enjoy, and give yourself the grace to recharge. Remember, recognizing these early signals is the first step towards preventing creative burnout and fostering a sustainable creative journey.
What can you do to ease or prevent a creative burnout?
So, let’s talk about the times when stress, frustration, and burnout sneak into the life of an artist. Remember it’s something we all face, a kind of shared experience among creators. But, like they say, if you can’t beat the problem, maybe it’s time to be friends with it. Here’s what our community had to say about dealing with their creative burnout:
Spend some time away from your canvas digging and planting
One inspiring response came from @theartistshousenz, who shared a relatable experience: “I get note burn out from not having enough time to create at the moment… but when I get overwhelmed, I just spend two days out on my land, digging and planting, earthing. And then I am back.”
This down-to-earth approach offers a refreshing perspective on combating creative burnout. Sometimes, stepping away from the canvas and immersing oneself in a different, grounding activity can be the reset needed to reignite artistic passion. @theartistshousenz finds solace in the simplicity of connecting with the land, engaging in the tactile experience of digging and planting.
So, how can you incorporate this strategy into your own routine? When frustration and burnout looms, consider taking a break from your work. Spend a day or two outdoors, connect with nature, and engage in a hands-on activity that brings you joy. Whether it’s gardening, hiking, or simply taking a leisurely stroll, the key is to disconnect temporarily and allow your mind to recharge.
By adopting this mindful approach, you not only address burnout but also cultivate a holistic well-being that can positively influence your creativity. It’s a reminder that the artist’s journey is multifaceted, and sometimes, stepping back is the most forward-moving step you can take.
Weight-lifting and incorporating physical activities
Another valuable insight comes from @cfordart, who shared, “I lift weights and joined the ‘cult’ of spin class.”
In the pursuit of overcoming creative burnout, @cfordart’s approach involves finding strength beyond the canvas. Engaging in physical activities like weightlifting and spin classes introduces a different kind of intensity – a controlled challenge that not only promotes physical well-being but also serves as an effective outlet for mental stress.
Consider incorporating physical activities into your routine when artistic frustrations peak. Whether it’s hitting the gym, joining a fitness class, or planning on a new outdoor adventure, these activities can provide a welcome distraction and recharge your creative spirit.
By embracing this approach, you not only cultivate a healthier lifestyle but also tap into the transformative power of physical activity to shake off your frustration.
Art and words: A dual outlet
Another artist, @rembrandting, shared a straightforward yet effective method: “I use it to paint and write.”
In dealing with burnout, @rembrandting finds solace in a dual outlet – expressing creativity not only through painting but also through the written word.
When the weight of frustration bears down, consider incorporating diverse outlets into your creative toolkit. Try your hand at both visual and written expression. Whether it’s doodling in a sketchbook or jotting down thoughts on paper, this two-pronged approach provides a versatile means to channel your artistic energy.
By embracing this simplicity, you open up avenues for creative expression that complement and support each other. Painting and writing become not just activities but interconnected tools to navigate the ebb and flow of your work journey.
Take a break to recharge
@debmorrow2018 has a straightforward tip: “You must take a breather sometimes to refuel and recharge.”
In the midst of your artistic hustle, remember the importance of stepping back. When stress and burnout hit, do what @debmorrow2018 suggests – take a break. It’s not just about resting your body; it’s giving your mind a chance to recover.
Try adding short breaks to your creative routine. Whether it’s a quick walk, a few moments of quiet, or just sitting down to relax, these breaks can be essential for a sustainable creative journey.
And echoing this sentiment, @sashadewittstudio adds a relatable twist: “I have been trying to make sure I take at least one full day off, which for me means to slob out and watch trash TV. It’s hard enough, as working out for yourself, you somehow don’t always think you deserve it, even if you’ve been working hard each day. But that to-do list will still be there after a long day off, so it’s okay to just tuck it out of sight and be a potato.”
@sashadewittstudio underscores the importance of giving yourself a break without carrying the weight of guilt. Taking a full day off isn’t just downtime; it’s an intentional practice of self-care. Sasha’s “potato day” strategy, where you enjoy a laid-back approach and indulge in some guilt-free TV watching, becomes a powerful way to reset.
The truth is, the to-do list will always be there, but your energy and creativity need nurturing. Sasha encourages us to acknowledge our hard work, grant ourselves a day of relaxation, and understand that it’s not only acceptable but crucial for our mental well-being.
Know your energy and don’t burdenize yourself
@debmorrow2018 highlighted the importance of taking breaks, and @sashadewittstudio encouraged a guilt-free “potato day.” Now, @marianagomezart adds another layer to the conversation, sharing, “I think it’s cyclical, sometimes we are full of energy and ideas and sometimes we are tired. Learning that we don’t have to be productive every day all day has been very important for me. We all have different types of energy, and that’s fine for me. We only have to keep up with ourselves.”
Mariana’s perspective sheds light on the cyclical nature of creativity. Recognizing that energy levels and inspiration fluctuate is crucial. Some days, you’re bursting with ideas and vigor, while other days, tiredness prevails. The key, as Mariana points out, is understanding that you don’t have to be at peak productivity all the time.
Here’s what you can do
- Understand that being tired or low on inspiration doesn’t diminish your worth as an artist.
- Instead of pressuring yourself to be consistently productive, set realistic expectations. Break down your tasks into manageable chunks and celebrate small victories.
- Rest is a crucial part of the creative process. Take breaks when needed, and recognize that allowing yourself to recharge contributes to long-term productivity.
Mariana emphasizes that we all have different types of energy. Pay attention to what works best for you, whether it’s tackling tasks in short bursts or diving deep into longer sessions. By internalizing these insights, you’re not only acknowledging the cyclical nature of creativity but also learning to work in harmony with your unique rhythms. Remember, keeping up with yourself is the true measure of success in your journey..
In our artist community, we’ve gathered some useful tips for dealing with stress and burnout. Each artist shared practical ideas, like taking breaks, having guilt-free relaxation days, and understanding that creativity has its ups and downs.
As we wrap up, remember that being an artist is a journey, not a race. It’s about recognizing and embracing the twists and turns in your creative road. Learn from your fellow artists, be gentle with yourself when things get tough, and celebrate your successes. In this shared adventure, finding a balance, going with the flow, and enjoying the process are the real treasures.
Want to grow in a supportive art community?
If you have more tips that work for you in dealing with stress and burnout, and you think they can help others in our community, drop us a comment on our Instagram @artstoheartsproject. We’ll be sharing your ideas, creating a space for collective wisdom.
Additionally, if you are not a part of our committee and want to join a community where you can share your questions, thoughts, or advice and connect with fellow artists, head over to our Instagram. It’s a place where the creative journey is celebrated, challenges are tackled together, and everyone is welcome to contribute to the ongoing conversation. Your unique perspective might be the inspiration someone else needs. Let’s build a supportive and thriving community where artistic insights flow freely. See you there!