Creative Dundee

Blog: Battling Burnout

In our blog feature, we invite different contributors to write about current issues, creative practice, Dundee and much more! You can read some of the archive blogs here. For this edition, Director of Creative Dundee, Gillian Easson writes about the discussion on Burnout at the We Are Next Forum.

Burnout and the arts all too often go hand in hand – deadlines, the freelance and self-directed nature of our work, and potentially holding down multiple jobs whilst we pursue our creative practice, can be overwhelming and exhausting.

The end of the year can be a busy and difficult time of the year for many of us in this context, so we felt it was about time to share the summary of a discussion which we hosted on the session of Burnout at the We Are Next Forum in Sheffield, part of the European Creative Hubs Network.

The two sessions included over 40 individuals from all over Europe, who live and breathe these challenges daily, so inevitably we had a really interesting conversation about how to spot burnout and what we can do to support our mental wellbeing.

What is burnout to you?

Burnout can be the perfect storm – it can come after both your best and worst days.

Burnout takes many different forms but ultimately detrimentally impacts your emotional, physical and mental wellbeing – your body literally collapses.

Sometimes you don’t know you’ve burned out until well after it has happened.

How do you spot when you are burning out?

What are the challenges associated with Burnout for you as a creative practitioner/business?

Do you have any hacks for supporting mental wellbeing?

What would be in your manifesto for battling burnout?

Be self aware – know your burnout triggers, don’t treat burnout as the only option. Know it’s time to take care of yourself. Find the woods to escape to, within your own home.

Get support from mentors and allies, remember your community is your biggest support network.

Keep physical – do sports or reflective activities like tai chi – don’t take devices and use this time to set your intentions for the day ahead.

Walk your dog – even if you don’t have one – get into a routine.

Remember no one will die if you don’t achieve everything you intended. Prioritise but don’t set unrealistic expectations of yourself/others and manage expectations of others as best you can.

Celebrate your achievements and create a ‘Done list’.

Celebrate your failures and remember to always find at least one positive from the situation along with the identified negative.

Speak to the people you love – schedule in specific time to phone your loved ones. Make the effort, you’ll both feel better because of it.

Take breaks and eat slowly – anything less is counter-productive.

Say no. It’s ok and knowing when to, allows pauses for other opportunities to emerge.

Go slow – create a ‘slow week’ for you and your team and stop being an adrenaline addict.

Delegate where you can and always consider how you can liberate yourself that little bit more each day.

Let others be heroes – support others, step back and ultimately give less f*cks.

Hilariously given the subject, it’s taken me over a year to share this, but we hope you find it useful and encouraging – if you have anything to add, get in touch and we can update this resource and share as we go. 

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