Burnout: Tips for Recovery



  • Hi everyone! I listened to the burnout podcast recently and it was very much how I am feeling at the moment lol. I know there are lots of us that have gotten to the burnout stage after a long stressful year. I feel I've taken enough of a break now, but still working on the needed motivation to get rolling again. I was thinking we could all share small things we do that help get back to rolling after being burnt out.

    I'll start.

    One thing I have done that helped me recover from burnout (after taking the needed break). Was to start back up doing SUPER small things. So, for example, last year I started by just listening to the courses for a while to help me feel inspired again. I didn't try doing the lessons at first, but when I eventually felt up to it or inspired I would try a small lesson. And continued doing small things until I was up for taking on a monthly challenge and was back up and rolling again.

    Does anyone else have things they do to get remotivated/inspired?



  • @carlianne How long was your break? I think once the pandemic is over I will take some uninterrupted time to myself. I am hoping that will be a good way to recharge.


  • SVS OG

    @carlianne I think that a lot of time burnout comes from 1) feeling pressure and 2) doing the same thing all the time. And I know you are under a fair amount of pressure with all your various life hats (mom, full time job, freelance jobs, store, etc.), so you might have to make burnout prevention a regular part of your life.

    If it were me, I would look for something fun. For me, that might be short-term, experimental pieces, new brushes, a new color method, etc. Anything I haven't tried because I didn't have time to, but always wanted to try. For you it might be something else.

    And I would go for walks, lots of walks, to get oxygen to your brain and empty your head regularly. I think we get burned out partly because our heads get too full of one thing and the mental version of that little beach ball we hate to see on our screens starts spinning and spinning in our minds.

    Anyway, that's just a "for what it's worth"! Hugs! You're too energetic and determined not to get back in the groove, so I know you will!



  • My first and only burnout till now...from 2020/10 to 2021/04, so 6 months break.... wow sounds long. I didn't draw at that time at all...It was like I had no idea what to draw, no muse, nothing from imagination and I was afraid to draw, was unable to draw, big pressure to draw and to post something. In February I started to feel that I would like to draw soon, I was thinking about it a lot, but still wasn't able to do it. It took me another 2 months to start to draw.
    In That whole time I took care of my family, read books, watched series, played with dog and was really rellaxed.

    I started with taking it slowly, everyday 30-60 minutes drawing fanart of some series, nothing from my head from my imagination. It fell nice and was happy, I didn't forget anything. Than I slowly came back to loving drawing again. I watched lot of new drawing videos and bought some new brushes, worked on my style.
    Promts helped me the most to draw more from imagination. Like to have a topic to draw about.
    And one other thing, I don't pressure myself to post and I don't care if I get or lose followers.



  • I’m currently going through a long bout of burnout caused by unemployment (I’m working now) and other stresses. Earlier last month, I was watching drawing videos on YouTube which got me really excited to get drawing. But as soon as I opened up my sketchbook... no motivation. Just a sense of impatience to draw something awesome in 5 minutes with perfect perspective, great colouring, etc., (to give some context: I need a lot of practice as I’ve become really rusty with my drawing skills).

    Fortunately, I have scheduled a fun piece to work on this month. It’s completely different and bit of a collaboration. A drawing video of my own! Hopefully that will turbo boost me out of my burnout.



  • @carlianne In the past year I felt burnout out at least twice that I can recall, mostly recently in September and just a week back. It doesn't help that most nights I face insomnia however I have found that I haven't been taking long enough breaks in between or enough breaks or mainly that my mind keeps going and going like the energy bunny whether I am working or trying to get to sleep.

    As a Christian I take Sundays off for my Sabbath and that usually means no computer to rest my eyes from that type of screen. It also means saying no to art ideas and work which is difficult for me. I am constantly adapting my life to my health and also productivity in my work.

    This last time however I took two-three days of computer screens and two days off my art (as best as I could) and then I got bored and that was enough of a break lols. For the last two weeks I have voice chatted with some of the people here on discord and that has more or less inspired me to keep going and finish the project I started. It's encouraging to hear from others since I don't use video chats much.

    So for me it is definitely a mind set, a mindfulness, an act of being instead of just go go go thinking, doing, got get things done to give life value. I don't find it hard right now to get inspired, I do have trouble resting and sleeping.

    🙂 I am glad you are back to your inspired self. ❤



  • That burnout episode of the podcast was really important for me. I think I've been burned out for a while. I've been taking a day off whenever possible lately and it feels amazing. Good to hear I'm not the only one who struggles with not working.



  • Thank you so much for starting this thread. We all need some tips and advice on this topic. I think your advice to start doing super small things is really to the point.

    I have not had a burnout with art and illustration yet. I had experienced that a couple of times with my previous creative career as an interaction designer. I did not really know what to do when that happened back then. But that experience has helped me to recognize the signs of approaching burnout now, and I was able to prevent it from happening in my short art career so far.

    I had pretty stressful autumn (like most of us dealing with work, family life under the global pandemic situation). What has helped me to get through this were:

    1. Stay in touch with the community. I try to check in svs forum, my critique group, and keep talking with artists, learn, and share whenever I can.

    2. Stop paying attention to Instagram. I did not plan to do this, it was a consequence of having tight deadlines. And whenever I have time, my priority was checking svs forum, not Instagram. This really helped me to reduce my obsession with what my result looks like, and put a lot more focus on the process. Because in svs forum, people were sharing and talking about the making of an art piece, it is all about the process. Well, on IG we compare the results - which is really not good for my mental health 🙂

    3. A daily yoga practice. I did yoga daily, most of the days only 10-15 mins, sometimes 30mins. But it really helps.

    4. Read. read. read. I read lots of picture books (and did not get far with other types of books), together with my 3 years old. I had some ambition to dig into Paul Klee's dairy, Dear Genius by Ursula Nordstrom, but deadlines kind of ran over my life.



  • @carolinebautista It was from around August until now, so about 4 months. My husband got a job in August so I had a moment where I actually could take a break, and then some health issues and then full on no motivation burnout.

    @LauraA you are totally right! I love the idea of finding something new and fun just for me to work on. I had started doing personal work for that exact reason, and I think I need to make sure I go back to that.

    @MichaelaH What you went through is pretty similar to me. I have a decent Instagram, but it was one of the first things I stopped working on because I was feeling too much pressure to post something "good" that I felt like it made it so I didn't want to work on anything. It's been nice to see that even if I don't post, things are still okay.

    @Heather-Boyd yes I feel like I'm always either in the bucket of "go go go" or doing nothing. It's a balance that I think I need to figure out so I can be more consistent in a healthy way.

    @xin-li I really like the idea of making sure to stay in touch with the community. I noticed one of the things I did when I got fully burned out was I completely retreated from all of those sources.



  • I think something that helped me when i had burn outs, and they happen to everyone i think every so often, was not just take a break and ENJOY the break but also before getting back into the swing of things was to really re-evaluate what I enjoy about art and why I had a burn out in the first place.



  • @carlianne I certainly noticed your absence. I'm sorry to hear this happened, and I hope you are doing well now. Or at least well enough to deal with the usual struggles, like that ever-elusive balance.
    Sometimes I interpret things that happen with other artists in the tone of their art. It suddenly strikes me now how self-serving that is. Just because your art is fun and playful and brings me joy doesn't mean I should assume you've moved on and don't struggle. Next time I notice something like that and wonder about it, I would like to simply ask how someone is doing.



  • I’m right there with you. I was going strong until last week when one more wrench came flying at me and just smacked me over the head. This year has been difficult to navigate for sure.

    I noticed beginning at that day I’ve just been completely drained. I sat down twice at my desk and just got that blank stare at an empty paper and once or twice dragged a listless pencil across the paper but it wasn’t in my heart at all.

    The strange thing is though, the couple of times that I’ve had to drive out of the house alone in my car during these past couple days, as soon as I begin I’m energized again. So I know it’s just the monotonous and secluded routine of my life right now that’s depressing my spirits. I do have three paintings to finish though which are pressing down on me and I’m having issues getting the frames for two of them. Ugh.

    All that to say - you’re absolutely not alone. I hope at least you can take comfort in that.

    In the past when I’ve struggled with burnout I’ve just taken a step back from the creativity I was working in, and shifted my creativity to another outlet, usually one that I haven’t attached my identity to (which really, should we all detach any creativity from our identities? I would love to debate whether this is a healthy thing to do or not...)

    Like others have said, reading, writing in a diary, spending more time with family, etc.

    Best of luck to you and thank you for being open in sharing your feelings.


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