7 signs of severe creative burnout

Almost everyone experiences creative droughts, but how can you tell when you're genuinely putting your health at risk?
Creative burnout is common and profoundly impact your health. In this picture, a woman with stained mascara holds up a smiley face to cover her sadness.

Burnout has become a fashionable pop psychology term in recent years, but it’s certainly more than a fad. The World Health Organisation recognises it as real and dangerous, usually manifesting in exhaustion, loss of empathy and reduced performance at work. It can be challenging for artists to discern between an inspirational drought and true burnout. The danger comes when artists attempt to push past their fatigue into “productivity”, which continues to damage an already frayed nervous system. 

While almost everyone experiences burnout at some point in their careers, recent studies have placed designers in the top five jobs prone to damaging fatigue. Women, older generations, lower-income workers and parents are also more likely to experience burnout. There are many tips for preventing burnout, but how do we recognise when things have gone too far?

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David Burton is a writer from Meanjin, Brisbane. David also works as a playwright, director and author. He is the playwright of over 30 professionally produced plays. He holds a Doctorate in the Creative Industries.