10 Tips for Avoiding Burnout as a Creator, Influencer or Changemaker in 2024

Feeling burned out as a creator or changemaker? Relentless passion can drain you. This guide reveals 10 proven tips for avoiding burnout, sustaining impact long-term, and how to deal with burnout before it hits.

Matt By Matt
10 Min Read

The reason people burn out is because they care too damn much.

About the work.

About the impact.

About changing lives and moving humanity forward.

You burnout because you are a creator, an influencer, a changemaker who deeply believes in your message and your mission to build something that matters.

But how do you keep the passion burning bright without burning out?

Avoiding Burnout

Burnout is an insidious force.

A slow drip of accumulated stress, relentless schedules, and overwhelming responsibilities that quietly drain your energy reserves until… exhaustion.

The world needs more creators, influencers, and changemakers doing work that positively impacts society. But to sustain that level of output over years and decades, you must be proactive about avoiding burnout.

So let’s dive into 10 proven tips for identifying burnout symptoms early and preventing full-blown occupational burnout from derailing your dream.

What is Burnout? The Burnout Definition

Let’s start by getting crystal clear on what exactly burnout is.

Burnout is defined as a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.

The World Health Organization further clarifies the burnout definition as “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy.”

In other words, burnout is when you’ve pushed yourself too far for too long without sufficient rest and recovery. It manifests as physical fatigue, mental fog, emotional detachment, cynicism, lack of motivation and an overall sense that you just can’t keep going.

The Stages of Burnout

Burnout doesn’t happen suddenly – it creeps up in stages over an extended period:

 

  1. The Honeymoon Phase – You’re fired up, motivated and enthusiastic about your work.
  2. Onset of Stress – Certain job demands start feeling overwhelming, and you experience periods of anxiety.
  3. Chronic Stress – The high stress and anxiety become the new normal as you try to just power through.
  4. Burnout – At this stage, you feel totally depleted, detached and unmotivated about your work.
  5. Habitual Burnout – If left unaddressed, periods of burnout become a chronic cycle.

Recognising the signs of burnout early is key, before it progresses to the more severe stages. So what are those telltale signs to watch for?

Burnout Symptoms to Watch For

Physical Burnout Symptoms

  • Chronic fatigue and exhaustion
  • Insomnia
  • Physical symptoms like headaches, muscle aches, etc.

Emotional Burnout Symptoms

  • Sense of dread about going to work
  • Feeling detached and cynical
  • Lack of motivation
  • Feeling stuck in a rut
  • Increased irritability

What Does Burnout Feel Like?

“It feels like this disillusioning sense of ‘Is this really all there is?’ Like you’ve lost your sense of purpose despite still caring deeply about your work and your ‘Why’… but you’re just so depleted, unmotivated and empty inside.”

As you can see, burnout is not just simple exhaustion from overworking.

It’s a much deeper, insidious force that eats away at you mentally, emotionally and physically. It can even trigger depression and other mental health challenges.

So now that we understand what we’re up against, let’s dive into 10 battle-tested tips for avoiding burnout as a creator and sustaining your impact over the long haul.

  1. Check In With Yourself Regularly
    The first step is to get acutely aware of how you’re feeling – both physically and emotionally – on an ongoing basis. Schedule short ‘check-in’ moments several times per day. Notice any early warning signs of stress and burnout creeping in.
  2. Prioritise Rest & Recovery
    This is non-negotiable. You must build in adequate rest, recovery and recharge time into your schedule. Taking breaks in your workday, getting quality sleep, and completely unplugging from work occasionally.
  3. Set Reasonable Boundaries
    Having boundaries around your time, energy and priorities is critical. Learn to say ‘no’, scale back commitments if needed, and protect your boundaries vigilantly.
  4. Simplify Your Life
    Pare down your schedule, responsibilities and obligations as much as possible. Eliminate anything draining your energy that isn’t absolutely essential or fulfilling right now.
  5. Cultivate Work-Life Balance
    Don’t let your work become all-consuming. Nurture rich relationships, hobbies, and routines completely separate from your work to bring balance.
  6. Practice Self-Care
    What recharges and replenishes you? Exercise, meditation, spending time in nature, pursuing creative outlets, etc. Schedule self-care rituals regularly.
  7. Adjust Expectations
    Sometimes we burnout from chasing impossible expectations. Check if you’re biting off more than you can realistically chew. Adjust timelines and scope as needed.
  8. Ask For Support
    Trying to power through everything alone is a recipe for burnout. Don’t be afraid to ask for support from your team, loved ones, etc. Share the load.
  9. Change Your Environment
    Sometimes a physical change of environment and routine is what’s needed to get unstuck and re-energize. Take a workcation somewhere new.
  10. Take Breaks From Social Media
    Constant feeds of others’ curated highlights can breed insecurity, anxiety and unhealthy comparisons that fuel burnout. Unplug regularly.

Signs You Need a Break From Creating

Ultimately, heeding the warning signs that you’re approaching burnout as a creator or changemaker is crucial. If you notice:

  • Dreading your work and procrastinating
  • Fixating on what everyone else is doing
  • Feeling constantly overwhelmed and scattered
  • Lacking excitement or a sense of purpose

Then it’s likely time for a true mental break. Recharge, gain fresh perspective, remember your “why”, and come back stronger.

The World Needs Your Creative Energy

You were put on this earth to create, to influence, to drive positive change.

By proactively avoiding burnout and nurturing your energy through sustainable self-care, you ensure your ability to show up powerfully in service of your purpose for years to come.

Let’s change the world – but not at the cost of our own well-being.

Burnout is very real, but it can be avoided and overcome. Implement these 10 tips and keep that inner fire for impact blazing.

Common Questions About Avoiding Burnout

What’s the difference between burnout and being temporarily stressed or overwhelmed?

Burnout is a specific psychological syndrome involving chronic emotional, mental and physical exhaustion from prolonged, excessive stress. It goes beyond just feeling stressed or overworked temporarily. Burnout depletes your motivation and sense of purpose in your work over an extended period.

How can I tell if I’m just overworked versus actually experiencing burnout?

Watch for the classic burnout symptoms – physical fatigue, mental fog, emotional detachment, cynicism toward your work, sense of dread, lack of motivation, and feelings of inefficacy or like you’re just going through the motions. If these persist for weeks or months, you may be experiencing burnout.

If you are concerned about your symptoms, consult with your doctor or a qualified medical professional.

What are some quick tips for recovering from burnout once you’ve hit that point?

Take a true break from work so you can fully disengage and recharge your batteries. Practice self-care activities that renew you like exercise, meditation, spending time outdoors, etc. Consider counselling, therapy or joining a support group. And re-evaluate your workload, priorities and boundaries to create more balance. Learn how to say “no”.

 

As a creative professional, is some level of burnout just inevitable due to the passion and intensity required?

Not necessarily. While burnout is common in demanding, creative fields, it doesn’t have to be inevitable if you proactively take steps to avoid it. Building in sufficient rest, simplifying obligations, practising self-care and managing expectations are key to sustaining your energy over the long haul.

Can working from home increase burnout risk by blurring work/life boundaries?

Potentially, yes. The lack of a dedicated workspace and the option to literally “leave work” at the end of the day makes it easier to get consumed by working hours. That’s why it’s critical for remote workers to be intentional about structuring their day, taking breaks, and creating clear work/life separation when possible.

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By Matt
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I'm the Creative Director at Bona Parle. I'm also a freelance portrait and headshot photographer, award-winning filmmaker, film Colourist and a multi-award winning LGBTQ+ human rights campaigner. For part of my week I lead a successful UK-based charity that brings families closer to together.