This post is by Michelle from Wicked Whimsy
We've all been there: burned out, frustrated, staring at the screen and willing inspiration to come to us. Obviously, the best way to beat burnout is to avoid it, and an older IFB post covers that topic quite well. That doesn't change the fact that sometimes, burnout sneaks up on you before you even realize it, and then all of the prevention in the world won't do any good!
So what do you do in that scenario? I can't guarantee they'll work for everyone, but here's some of my tried and true methods:
- Meditate. I know it sounds really hokey, but hear me out! We can all agree that burnout is a mental block and that it's made worse by overthinking; you can't think of ideas, and then you feel like a failure for not being able to think of an idea. You beat yourself up, you become stressed out, and then after all of this you feel even more like a failure. It's a vicious cycle. Meditation is proven to help anxiety and stress – once you're de-stressed and less anxious, it's a lot easier to regain your inspiration and work ethic. Best of all, you don't need any fancy equipment or tactics to do it. Just sit in a comfortable position and count your breaths (one on inhale, two on exhale). Try doing it for ten minutes (set an alarm on your phone, glancing at the clock is distracting!) and see how much better you feel at the end!
- Yoga or other exercise. I particularly like yoga – the focus on breathing makes it nearly impossible to think about anything except for what you're doing. If yoga's not your thing, try pilates, running, Nia…you're sure you find some kind of exercise that helps you reach a calmer, happier state. I recommend the Yoga for Every Body DVD, I have it and love it. Bonus points for your health, too!
- DIY something. Browse through the Craftster forums or the Outsapop archives and find something you like, then go to town! Sewing, crocheting, knitting – whatever floats your boat. You'll have your mind taken off the burnout during the process, and at the end, you'll have something to show for it. Plus, you can do a post about it later.
- Read a fiction book. This gives you some “brain off” time. I suggest something fluffy yet fun. Harry Potter, Sookie Stackhouse, something along those lines. Another variation on this one is…
- Watch a movie! Rent a movie or a season of one of your favorite shows (no distracting commercials). Have a marathon. I guarantee you'll feel better afterwards.
If you're really burned out, take a week or so off, if possible. Line up some guests posts or schedule some posts you already had written. By day four or day five you should be feeling much better, but you might have some lingering apprehension about trying to write for fear of getting stuck again. I suggest surrounding yourself with inspiration, going through old lists for posts ideas (if you have them – I keep a large file with all of my ideas), and forcing yourself to write. What you initially write might not be the best you've ever written, but it will get you past that block and back on track.