The word burnout has a certain desperation about it—conjuring images of a broken-down car, or a computer with fried circuitry. But for us humans, it’s simply a way to describe a sort of psychic collapse. “Burnout is the experience of feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by everything you have to do, yet still somehow worried you’re not doing enough,” said Amelia Nagoski, co-author, with her sister Emily, of a recent book on the subject. For artists and other creatives—those for whom the line between work and play, career and passion, is often nonexistent—the threat of burnout is especially dire. What happens when the thing that has brought you so much joy becomes a source of stress and anxiety?
There’s no simple solution. A spontaneous month-long yoga retreat in Tulum might sound like just the ticket, but that’s certainly not an option for most working artists, who depend on their time in the studio to pay the bills. Still, creatives can adopt certain tactics to avoid burnout—and to bounce back if and when they’ve hit that wall of stress. Below, we share insights from artists and experts on how to avoid the dread of burnout.