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How to bounce back from creative burnout

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Burnout is devastating for anyone. But it can be especially hard on those whose jobs depend on being creative and innovative every single day. Burnout snuffs out your creative spark. It makes simple tasks hard and creative ones nearly impossible.

So what do you do when you hit creative burnout? After you’ve given yourself the time you need to rest, restore, and recalibrate, it’s time to get the creative juices flowing once more.

The symptoms of burnout are far-reaching, from chronic fatigue and emotional exhaustion to cynicism, detachment, and a sense of ineffectiveness. Just looking at that list makes it easy to understand just how much burnout impacts creativity.

As psychologist Wilmar Schaufeli, one of the original researchers into occupational burnout notes:

“As a metaphor for the draining of energy, burnout refers to the smothering of a fire or the extinguishing of a candle. It implies that once a fire was burning, but the fire cannot continue burning brightly unless there are sufficient resources that keep being replenished.”

Creativity depends on an openness to new ideas, freedom to explore, and finding purpose in your work. But all those qualities disappear when you’re burnt out.

Instead of an overflowing well of ideas, your creative juices run dry. But just because you’re facing creative burnout doesn’t mean your work expectations change. As Schaufeli continues:

“Over time, employees experiencing burnout lose the capacity to provide the intense contributions that make an impact.

“If they continue working, the result is more like smouldering–uneventful and inconsequential–than burning. From their own perspective or that of others, they accomplish less.”

This is especially disastrous for people whose jobs are focused on creativity and who aren’t able to draw a line between work and “everything else.”

Common advice for handling workplace stress is to step back or spend more time on what makes you happy. But as Samantha Forge writes in Kill Your Darlings,

“In many........

© Fast Company