At the aptly titled Devoted & Disgruntled workshop, hosted by members of theatre company Improbable, we were allowed to spend time talking about whatever we wanted, and one of the things many of us had at the top of our minds was burnout.
Burnout is a feeling fed by isolation, money worries and job insecurity, compounded by a culture which implies you are lazy for experiencing its symptoms: fatigue, feelings of defeat, procrastination and self-doubt.
For those working in jobs that are their vocation, taking on low paid, insecure and often isolating work with bosses who exploit your enthusiasm is not uncommon.
A friend who works in the creative industries recently took a job where she was expected to work well beyond her contracted hours for no extra pay. Instead of offering support, or overtime, her boss simply told her the industry was tough and if she couldn’t handle it then she was in the wrong industry.
The real question then, is how can we recognise the difference between burnout, and the pressures of carving out a creative career?
Despite the World Health Organisation recognising burnout as an "occupational phenomenon," it’s likely you will be working in multiple freelance jobs, with no one other than you looking after your mental health and protecting you against burnout.
This is something I have been finding particularly challenging whilst balancing a day job, freelance work and an intense journalism training course. For now, my priority is getting my work done. It’s what makes me feel on track with life, even when I haven’t made it to a yoga class in far longer than I’d care to admit. Everyone has different priorities so it’s really important to ask: what does using your time meaningfully look like for you?
This is the first instalment of a two-part response to the issue of creative burnout, discussed during London's Devoted & Disgruntled workshop. Read the second instalment here.