No matter how much you care about your career, your mental health should be your first priority. You cannot work nonstop because you will make yourself sick. You will burn yourself out. If you want to reach success in a creative field, you should learn to recognize the signs of burnout so you can restore your mental and physical health before you have a total breakdown.
Here are a few steps to take if you think you’re on the verge of burnout:
1. Give yourself permission to take longer breaks. Schedule breaks for yourself throughout the day. Do not check your work emails in bed or at the supper table. Create boundaries for yourself. Decide you are not allowed to think about work past a certain time on weekdays. Give yourself rules to prevent yourself from working nonstop.
2. Start saying no when you are asked to do more. Do not put more on your plate than you can handle. The next time someone makes an unreasonable request — whether it is a friend asking for help moving or a buyer asking you to complete a piece of art by the end of the week — turn them down. Stop feeling guilty about saying no. You cannot pack your schedule until it overflows. You cannot do everything for everyone.
3. Reward yourself with random treats. If you spend the whole week slaving over a piece of art and don’t get recognition for it, you are going to feel discouraged. You can get your enthusiasm back by treating yourself. Whenever you write a certain amount of words or snap a certain amount of pictures, reward yourself with an ice cream cone, a massage, or an episode of your favorite show. Never forget to congratulate yourself on how hard you have been working. You deserve it.
4. Make time with friends a priority. When you put all your energy into your work, it’s easy to neglect the other areas of your life. Avoid burnout and avoid losing friends by getting a group together for drinks each week. While you are out, work is off-limits. Talk about anything and everything else.
5. Alter your workload. Ask yourself if your current schedule is sustainable. Maybe you can cut back on how many hours you work each day. Maybe you can cut down on how many projects you accept at a time. You don’t have to stick to the same routine. You can change it at any point.
6. Work on a project that actually excites you. You chose to follow your passion because you wanted to do what you love for a living. Remember that when you feel unenthused about your work. Try to think outside the box and find a way to make it fun again. That might mean starting a new project, one you are more passionate about completing
7. Take better care of your body. Instead of running on three cups of coffee, make sure you get more than three hours of sleep each night. Instead of sitting at a desk all day, make sure you get up and move your legs. When you take better care of your body, your mind benefits. When you neglect your body, your mind rots. Do not forget your physical health is as important as your mental health.
8. Get away for a while. If you are able to take an impromptu vacation, book a flight and leave your art at home. Do not check your work email. Do not check your notifications. Do not answer any phone calls relating to work. Go off the grid for a week. Give yourself time to reset and recharge. By the time you make it home, you will be in a healthier mindset. You will create much more impressive art than you would have without a break.