17 Tips to Overcome Creative Burnout

Are you feeling creatively drained? Struggling to come up with new ideas? If so, you’re not alone. Creative burnout is a real phenomenon, and it can be tough to overcome. In fact, according to a study conducted by McKinsey & Co and Lean In, 43% of women in leadership positions in the workplace indicated they felt burnt out and 31% of men indicated the same. This is significant and can affect workplace satisfaction and productivity in the long-run as well as impact the physical and mental health of workers at all levels. But don’t worry – there are ways to get your creative juices flowing again. In this article, we’ll discuss some tips for overcoming creative burnout.

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We’ll talk about how to find inspiration, how to stay motivated, and how to keep your creativity alive. But before we jump into the tips, let’s talk about why creative burnout happens in the first place.

What is Creative Burnout?

Creative burnout is a state of mind in which your creative energy and motivation has been depleted. It can manifest as stress, frustration, or feeling like you just don’t have the energy to create anything.

It’s easy to compare yourself to other creatives, feel overwhelmed by their success, and become discouraged. That’s why it’s important to remember that even the best creatives have times when they feel creatively drained, and it’s okay to take a break without feeling guilty. Even so, it’s hard to get out of this sort of mental state once you’re locked into it.

8 Signs You’re in Creative Burnout

While the experience varies from person to person, creative burnout often shows itself in a few key ways. If you’re experiencing any of the following, you may be burnt out:

  1. Brain fog, absentmindedness, or a general inability to focus: Creative burnout can feel like a mental fog that makes it hard to focus or be productive.
  2. Lack of motivation: It’s often difficult to find the drive to start (or finish) projects, even if you’re excited about them.
  3. Prone to distraction: You may find yourself easily distracted and unable to stay on task for more than a few minutes.
  4. Irritability or impatience: Creative burnout can lead to feeling easily frustrated, impatient, or irritable.
  5. General fatigue: Creative burnout doesn’t just take a mental toll – it can also be physically draining.
  6. Unhealthy habits: When creativity is lacking, it can be easy to reach for unhealthy coping mechanisms like drinking too much or staying up late or snacking into the late hours.
  7. Endless scrolling: If you’re feeling creatively drained, it’s all too easy to get sucked into a social media black hole.
  8. Looking forward to bedtime: It can be tempting to just call it a day and go to bed early rather than trying to work on creative projects.

Now that you know the signs of creative burnout, let’s talk about how to get out of it. Here are some tips for overcoming creative exhaustion and getting your creativity back on track.

17 Tips for Overcoming Creative Burnout

So how do you avoid or overcome creative burnout? Keep reading to find out!

1. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

The best way to keep creativity alive is to break free from your usual routine. Try something new, whether it’s a different type of art or a different kind of project. Forcing yourself out of your comfort zone can help you see things from a different perspective and spark some fresh ideas.

2. Evaluate Your Time Constraints (And Use Them)

Time constraints can be a source of creative frustration. But if you look at them differently, they can also help you focus your creativity and make the most of your available time. Set yourself short-term goals and use them to motivate yourself.

3. Take Breaks

three red, wooden lawn chairs sitting near a lake

It’s important to take breaks from your work in order to maintain your creativity. Make sure to schedule in some time for yourself, whether it’s a few minutes here and there or a full day off. Doing something fun or relaxing can help give you some much-needed perspective and provide the mental break that you need.

4. Talk To Other Creatives

Sometimes, all it takes is an outside opinion to get your creative juices flowing again. Reach out to other creatives in your field, or even those who work in a completely different industry – you never know what kind of insight they can offer you.

5. Experiment With New Forms or Mediums

Creative burnout often happens when we stick too closely to a certain set of rules or parameters. Why not experiment with something completely different and see if that sparks new ideas? Try a new medium, a new form of art, or even a completely different field!

6. Say No to Things That Zap Your Creativity

Make sure you’re saying no to anything that doesn’t feed your creativity. This includes projects or tasks that don’t excite you and drain your energy. Taking care of yourself is an important part of keeping the creative juices flowing, so make sure you know when to take a step back and recharge.

7. Pick Up a Creative Hobby

a messy water color paint palette with two brushes nearby

Having a creative outlet outside of work can help give you a fresh perspective and provide new sources of inspiration. Whether it’s painting, photography, or something else entirely, having an activity that purely exists for creativity can be a great way to recharge your creative batteries.

8. Get Out Into Nature — Regularly

We all know how important it is to get outside, but did you know that nature can be a great source of inspiration? Studies have shown that spending time in nature can help reduce stress, improve your mood, and boost creativity. So make sure you’re getting out into nature on a regular basis.

9. Consciously Seek Out the Creative Works of Others

No, scrolling aimlessly on social media doesn’t count here. Although there are certainly many creative folks sharing their works on the likes of Instagram and TikTok, scrolling mindlessly through these platforms can quickly become a drain on your creative energy. 

Instead, set aside some time to consciously seek out the creative works of others – be it books, music, paintings, or other forms of art. Looking at what others are creating can inspire you and help rekindle your own creativity.

10. Embrace Failure 

Sometimes, the best way to get out of a creative slump is to embrace failure. It’s easy to be too hard on yourself if you don’t meet your own expectations, but it’s important to remember that failure can often lead to new and exciting ideas, so never be afraid to try something different.

11. Clean and Organize Your Workspace

Sometimes, decluttering and organizing your workspace can help give you a fresh start. Take some time to clear off your desk, reorganize the items in your drawers, and make sure everything is in its proper place – this will help ensure that you have a clean slate when it comes time to get creative.

12. Set Achievable Goals

Having achievable goals can help keep you motivated, which is especially important when it comes to your creative work. Write down what you want to accomplish, set realistic deadlines for yourself, and reward yourself when you complete a task – these small accomplishments will give you the boost of motivation that you need to keep going. 

13. Read Inspirational Books About Fellow Creatives

a row of books from a library or bookstore

Books can be a great source of motivation and inspiration. Seek out books and publications about fellow creatives – their stories, successes, and struggles can provide insight (and even entertainment!) that will help you stay inspired and motivated to keep creating.

14. Take Time Off

Sometimes the best way to get your creative juices flowing is to take some time off. Whether it’s taking a weekend trip, planning a vacation, or simply stepping away from your desk for a few days, setting aside some time to do something unrelated to work can help kickstart your creativity. This is about more than taking breaks throughout your work day.

Committing to taking time off can cause a lot of guilt sometimes, especially for those who value their personal worth via their productivity. So, it’s important to remind yourself that taking time off is just as important as working hard. It can help rejuvenate your creative mind and give you the boost of inspiration that you need.

15.  Exercise and Eat Well

Taking care of your body can help improve your creativity. Exercise helps to release endorphins which boosts the mood and increases energy levels, while healthy eating helps nourish the mind. So make sure you’re taking the time to exercise regularly and eat well – it will benefit both your physical and mental health as well as your creativity.

16. Listen to Music That Inspires You

a woman with a gray v-neck shirt on listens to audio using headphones while standing against a white brick wall

Music can be a great source of inspiration and creativity. No matter the genre, be sure to choose music that resonates with you and helps inspire your creativity. Put together a playlist of songs that make you feel energized and motivated, and listen to it when you need a creative boost.

17. Meditate

Meditation can be an incredibly beneficial practice for reducing stress and anxiety, which can help foster creativity. By focusing on your breath and clearing your mind, you can become more mindful of the present moment and gain clarity – allowing you to focus better on creative tasks.

Overcoming Creative Burnout is a Process — But You Can Do It!

Creative burnout is a real struggle, but it doesn’t have to be permanent. With some self-care and the tips above, you can get back in touch with your creativity and find inspiration for your next project. So take a deep breath, believe in yourself, and start creating!