Breaking the Wheel of Creative Burnout
In the immortal words of Lizzo: “Truth hurts, needed something more exciting.”
And the truth is, we’re the captains of round-the-clock communication. Our always-on culture and constant creative pressure to come up with ideas on command can take its toll. The truth is that our exciting world of advertising greases the wheels for creative burnout.
Buzzfeed’s contentious article published earlier this year, How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation, raised a lot of questions. But, as much as people want to disparage that particular age group, burnout is ubiquitous – it transcends generations.
It just so happens that Millennials and Gen Z have been particularly responsive to burnout, as what we lack in experience we make up for in abundant enthusiasm. But long before we all watched Don Draper sleep off a late night in the office, the ad industry has been known for its intensity and heavy workloads. Burnout isn’t anything new.
The term, by definition, was coined by Herbert Freudenberger (try saying that surname five times) in the 1970s. It describes the mental or physical collapse of an individual due to overwork or stress. And with the pressure of success only intensifying as roles and responsibilities change, the question is: how do you avoid it?
Here’s our handy go-to on how our creatives keep themselves balanced, energised and creatively fulfilled:
Honour your limits and learn to set boundaries for yourself. Don’t let work seep into your conversations and switch off your phone when you’re out of the office! That’s the beauty of work-life balance – it’s giving yourself the headspace to recharge and avoid toxic cycles.
Take a flipping day off. This speaks for itself. Take a holiday – see the world! Or, if you’re not too keen on travel, try to resist the siren song of client requests and Outlook at the weekend. We all have to work late sometimes, but regularly working while off-the-clock is the first step towards burnout.
Find a totally disparate or unrelated creative outlet. Just because you take time to switch off outside of work, that doesn’t mean that you have to completely switch off all of your creative output. Whether it’s basket weaving, SLAM poetry or creating shopping haul videos on YouTube. Find something that floats your boat and fulfils you creatively.
Learn the art of saying “no.” This one’s for the Millennials and Gen Z. Many newcomers to the industry feel that what they may lack in experience needs to be made up for in abundant enthusiasm – often at the expense of their mental wellbeing. It’s hard to say no. But once you learn how, you’ll be so glad you did.
Don’t compare yourself to other creatives. We all offer something completely different, so there’s no use in comparing yourself to others. It’s a recipe for disaster. The pressures of success are immense and can be overwhelming, and people should align with their own definition of success.
Now, of course, we can all come up with a work-life checklist that give us all a sense of equilibrium. But the evolution of work can consume even the most conscientious in the industry. It’s all about learning to recognise your warning signs and choosing balance as a lifestyle. That’s when you break the wheel of creative burnout.