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Creative Play Newsletter – Beating Burnout with Creativity

I’ve been writing a lot about burnout in the Facebook group because I realized that’s something I’ve been suffering from. Back in February, I had three days when I was just too exhausted to move (two of which came during my vacation!!!) The first day I took a sick day from work, thinking I just needed rest, and I spent the day in bed until school pickup time. THe second day was the first day of a vacation, but it was the day after a grueling eight-hour flight delay so being exhausted seemed reasonable. The third day, however, was at the end of a week of vacation so that’s when I started to think, “What’s wrong with me??!!” It was at that point that I considered burnout as a possibility, though I didn’t take the thought that seriously because I didn’t really believe that burnout was a thing. I thought it was just something people said hyperbolically, but that didn’t actually exist as a real thing. I was wrong. It’s a real thing and it’s been defined as long as I have been alive. 

So, I bought a book on burnout (and one on menopause too since that was the other possibility I considered). Here’s what I learned:  

  1. Burnout totally exists and it’s pretty common in women because…
  2. The #1 symptom of burnout is emotional exhaustion, defined in the book as “the fatigue that comes from caring too much, for too long” (pg. xi).
  3. It is also characterized by depersonalization and a decreased sense of accomplishment.
  4. The best way to cure burnout is physical activity. (Okay, add this to the reasons why I should be exercising more.)
  5. Secondary cures for burnout are: breathing, positive social interaction, laughter, affection, crying and CREATING. (pgs. 15 – 18)

You see why I’ve been nattering on about burnout. I already understood that creating made me feel better. I knew that I could get so stressed out that I was ready to lose my mind and that time spent in the studio kept me sane. I knew that if I could spend 15 minutes every day doing something creative, it would help me maintain my equilibrium. Now, I know why. Creating does help alleviate stress by completing the stress cycle (as explained by Emily and Amelia Nagoski). It helps with emotional exhaustion and it helps keep burnout at bay. Perhaps you’ve been feeling a little stressed out and emotionally exhausted lately (a two-year global pandemic will definitely do that to you!). If so, it might be time to make creating a priority for a while. If anyone asks what you’re doing, you can answer, “I’m doing the important work of completing the stress cycle, thanks!”

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