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Stress and Creative Burnout

Nov 3, 2021

For those of us working in the creative industries, we all walk a very thin line, where, with one slip, we fall into what feels like an eternal pit of creative burnout. Creative burnout is that awful feeling that all your pockets of creativity have deflated like a balloon. Without warning, the work that you love can suddenly feel like a mountain of tasks that you begin to dread, and the seeds of doubt of ‘Will I ever be able to create good work ever again?’ congeal together into a build-up of stress. Today is National Stress Awareness Day, this blog aims to help anyone suffering from creative burnout, which is linked to stress. We share with you some of our tips to help tackle this.

Running a small business like Northern Heart Films requires a constant interplay of different roles. The founders of our company, Scott Bradley and Natasha Hawthornthwaite hold the official titles of Head of Production and Creative Director, although they wear many different hats in order to drive the company forward towards the success it has reached today. Not only is there the process of production planning in order to produce impactful films for our clients, Scott and Natasha run everything in house such as finance, legal, marketing, client and industry pitching all the while having to achieve a steady yet constant flow of ideas for potential and upcoming projects. Therefore, occupational and creative burnout is something Northern Heart Films have had to become mindful of and something which we encourage an open dialogue of between all the members of our team.

Tips from us to Tackle Occupational and Creative Burnout

Step 1:  Tackling rather than avoiding

The first step is accepting that the feeling of burnout is part of human nature and a cog in the creative process. Like a training athlete overworking a muscle, for those working in creative industries, the pressure to constantly produce exhausts the creative muscle. It’s important to find ways of stretching and conditioning our creativity in a way that prevents us from overworking that part of ourselves. This can be achieved through certain creativity exercises. Our Digital Marketing Assistant, Hayley, recommends ‘The Artist’s Way, a book by Julia Cameron, that provides a twelve-week course that guides you through the process of recovering your creative self. The book aims at helping creatives overcome any artistic blocks they may suffer from, like limiting beliefs, fear, sabotage, jealousy, and guilt, and replace them with self-confidence and productivity. 

Step 2: Getting to the root cause of your creative burnout

Sometimes it’s difficult to step back from the cloud of negativity to see the root cause of your stress. It may be useful to set some time aside to unravel your thoughts via pen and paper so you can work towards it visually. Talk to your friends or colleagues about how you are feeling. Sometimes other people can offer a different perspective and can help you reach the crux of your stress. Other than that, sometimes it’s simply a good way of getting the difficult stuff off your chest.

Step 3: Establishing your boundaries

The creative sector predominantly comprises small businesses, microbusinesses, and freelancers. So it’s so important for those in creative jobs to acknowledge the fact that most don’t have a huge team behind them. It’s virtually impossible for one person to produce work to a standard to that of a large team and come out the other end completely unscathed of burnout. Be aware that some weeks will be better than others and establishing a workflow that works best for you may arrive through a trial and error process, there’s no shame in that. Creative industries with their high volume of micro-businesses, freelancers, and highly skilled project-based work are an archetype of the future of work according to Creative UK Group so there’s a clear cause for value in the nature of this work. Keep going!

Step 4: Celebrate achievements and little wins 

Lastly, it’s so important to acknowledge your growth by celebrating what you’ve achieved so far. We believe this is a way to reflect positively on all the progress you’ve already made to self-inspire and approach up-and-coming projects with a can-do mindset.

#NationalStressAwarenessDay #MentalHealthMatters

Hayley Hoban
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