6 Tips To Avoid Creative Burnout
“I worked too much and neglected my health to fund my passion for music.” - Pirate artist
In a recent article on the Pirate Blog, we revealed 66% of artists have suffered burnout at least once.
To assist those affected, we’ve created a list of six things all artists can do to support their mental health.
Whether you're gigging every weekend, or yet to record your first EP, the guide below is designed to help you reach your next goal without breaking down.
1. Don't Hibernate
Maintain a life outside the studio.
Many artists feel compelled to isolate themselves during intense periods of creativity. This isn’t necessarily the best approach.
When you find your stride with a track, or if it's giving you trouble, you might want to finish it before you do anything else. However, going days without social interaction often leads to greater social anxiety and could contribute to a creative burnout.
At the very least, grab a coffee or a sandwich with a friend, your partner or whoever else is around between studio sessions.
2. Listen To Your Body
It feels good to treat your body well.
Sitting at a desk all day, bad eating habits or not allowing yourself the time to cook can contribute to various mental and physical health problems.
Think about what you're putting inside your body and allow yourself the time to cook good food. Enjoy chopping, rinsing, frying, mashing and eating slowly. It's relaxing.
Similarly, try clearing your mind with some repetitive exercise - swimming, running, cycling, lifting weights, the list goes on.
In a recent interview on the Pirate Blog, London-based DJ and presenter NAINA expressed the importance of her gym routine, not only in terms of staying active, but to escape her computer screen:
"I go to the gym in the middle of the day, mainly because it's quiet but also to break up the hours I spend sat on my laptop.
The pandemic has made this even tougher. Normally I'd be in a studio, socialising and taking lunch breaks. At home you can just sit and work without moving for hours. You've got to be mindful of that for sure.
I like to draw in my spare time as well, anything to take a break from technology."
3. Explore Other Creative Hobbies
Force yourself to focus on something else.
If you're a musician, think painting, drawing, DIY or dancing. Hobbies such as these also allow you to rest your eyes and ears which is imperative to your physical and mental health.
You can read more about the importance of resting your ears in our article 'How To Avoid Or Cope With Tinnitus Working In Music'.
4. Ask For Feedback & Support
Criticism is your best friend.
Checking in with friends, family or colleagues and sharing your work regularly will help you take a more rational, less frantic or obsessive approach. Needless to say, they might also spot problems or have great ideas to enhance a track-in-progress.
On the other hand, keeping a project entirely under wraps until it’s completion can lead to self-isolation and greater anxiety about what you're working on (as well as everything else).
5. Enjoy Other Artists' Work
Get out of your own head and look inside someone else's.
When you're overdoing it in the studio, it can be really hard to switch off at the end of a session. You don't want to be lying in bed, still thinking about that loop or that kick drum.
Distract yourself with something that makes you wonder - pop into a gallery, read a book or attend a show. You might even find some inspiration.
6. Take Proper Breaks
Don't jump straight from one project to the next.
Periods of more intense work are inevitable as an artist, making proper breaks all the more important.
Taking a proper break at the end of each new project might mean spending a weekend visiting friends or family. Or, it could mean staying at home and making leisure plans during the day such as chilling in a park or discovering a new beauty spot.
You don't necessarily have to go anywhere new to take a proper break. However, if you work in your house, it's good to leave that space as much as possible during break periods. It also helps to reconnect with nature.
Since suffering a burnout, NAINA describes struggling but doing her best to keep weekends for herself:
"For me personally, my weeks are pretty stressful, so I try to make weekends my time. This definitely doesn't work all the time, and it's not for everyone, but I try to keep the balance."
Everyone's creative process is unique to them and their work. So are each artist's causes for burnout. The steps above are not exhaustive, but they should help you cope with the pressures of being an artist in modern times.
For further information and advice on burnout, read our article 'Why 66% Of Artists Have Burned Out At Least Once' featuring London-based DJ NAINA.
If you’re an artist in the UK and you’re feeling overwhelmed, or just need someone to talk to, call Music Minds Matter on 0808 802 8008, or visit their website here.