5 Ways to Recover from Creative Burnout

I have this very vivid memory of lying on my dorm room floor, tears coming down my face, feeling numb, tired, exhausted. I had moved across the country to attend music school, had always LOVED singing - honestly, it was my whole life. But here I was, I didn't want to listen to another second of music, felt like I had lost the joy of creating music, and just. so. tired. 


The emotional and psychological consequences of creative entrepreneurship are not often talked about. In the 8+ years of running my photography business, I've hit hard spots a few times.  Exhaustion combined with stress combined with lack of inspiration can be a bitter pill to swallow and can severely affect your work and your life.  The main complaint I hear from photographers and business owners who come to me for coaching, is financial stress and the instability that can contribute to business and artistic burnout. Recovering from this sense of loss, fear, and grief can be very difficult, but burnout shouldn't mean you have to give up. Burnout is a sign that something in your life has to change. On my own journey of creating an emotionally and financially sustainable business, there are so many small daily/weekly practices that I have picked up along the way that make a huge difference. 

1. Take Yourself on Regular Solo Dates

It feels very unnatural for me to spend time alone. I love people, I could cuddle all the dang time, and I tend to get lonely easily. But scheduling time for myself to be alone and doing something that feels extravagant and fun is just one small way to remind myself that I am valuable and my emotional and mental health are important. Going on trips or dates alone forces me to look at the world differently, talk to strangers, be bold in ways that I normally wouldn't be, and take time to enjoy the little things. One of my favorite authors, Julia Cameron, swears by these dates and I've adopted her suggestion of embracing whimsical solo experiences on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Use these dates as a time to learn something new (pottery class anyone?) or go on a hike by yourself, or explore a new small town outside the city. It doesn't have to be expensive or long, and can create a dramatic shift in your mood and thinking. 

2. Start Your Day with Gratitude

In the morning, take 5-10 minutes to write out things you're grateful for. Starting your day with an attitude of gratefulness builds a resilience that carries with you in to the day.  The opposite of gratitude is cynicism, and I like to picture cynicism as a weight that I add to my back that I carry around with me during the day. Actively taking off that weight and enjoying the lightness that gratitude brings is freeing and also opens up room for new inspiration and experiences. 

3. Batch Your Time

Multitasking promises efficiency, but delivers stress and frustration. Set aside intentional time for the different tasks you have to do. Set timers if it helps you, have specific days where you do specific types of work, only answer emails 2x a day... look at the tasks you have to do, and make a plan for when you will do them. By putting tasks like emails in a specific place on the schedule, you get more accomplished and also keep them from being a distraction from other tasks. 

4. "Cross-train" 

Do something creative in another field. If you're a photographer, try painting. If you're a florist, pick up a guitar. Find a way to be creative outside of your main craft/profession. 

5. Practice Generosity

Money stress can be one of the fastest ways to burnout. Practice abundance by choosing to be generous on a regular basis. We always have enough to share with others.