Tips for Staying Creative & Avoiding Burnout
While doing what you love may sound like a dream job, being creative for a living is hard work. Salon professionals have an added responsibility because you are responsible for being creative for someone else, in order to bring their vision to life. It gets tricky trying to balance caring for your creative process, while also doing what you have to keep the lights on.
Most clients tend to have a fixed idea of what they want. This is typically influenced by seeing a style that someone else has, liking it, and wanting to recreate it for themselves. Unfortunately, this leads to a lot more “copy work” and a lot less creative expression. Staying creative in the midst of performing the same artistic tasks over and over again is a huge challenge.
Maintaining creative inspiration will look a little different for everyone. However, there are some basic fundamentals that apply to us all. In order to understand how to properly care for our creative process, let’s start with understanding how it works.
What is Creativity?
Creativity is not really a personally trait, despite what most people think. It is actually a mental process. Everyone has the ability for creative thought. How we use it more or less depending on how our individual minds work and the situation calls for. Creative thought is really the integration of memories in an unexpected way.
One way to think of it is that our imagination is like an architect—it what allows us to envision something new. Meanwhile, our creative process is more like a general contractor that allows us to bring that vision to life. Keeping the lines of communication open between the two is what keeps creative inspiration flowing.
What impacts Creative Thought?
Our ability to think creativity is impacted by a lot of different factors, but one of the most important is attention. If our attention is on too many different things at once, our brains are not able to do the “deep work” of integration required for the creative process. This is the root of the problem for a lot of creative professionals.
While most professions typically focus on the advancement of technical or interpersonal skills, creatives have a little more on their plate. Professional creatives have the added responsibilities of continuously honing artistic skills and also staying inspired. Not to mention that most creatives work on a freelance basis, so there are also business responsibilities to handle and social skills to develop.
Having so many “tabs” open mentally actually hinders the creative process, making it harder for you to do your job.
Self-Care for Creatives
As a creative professional, your livelihood depends on your ability to envision something new and bring it to life. This process depends on maintaining a healthy, balanced mental and emotional state. Having a solid, well-rounded self-care routine is absolutely essential for creatives. This routine should include the hard stuff, like taking care of your day-to-day responsibilities, physical and mental health, with a healthy dose of fun mixed in.
Some of you may roll your eyes at the idea of incorporating fun into your daily routine—after all, who has time for that??? If you have a business to run, bills to pay, and a home and family to take care of, there is probably not a lot left over for “fun”.
So, let’s try a different word, let’s think of it as “creative cross pollination.” Creative thought happens when we combine thoughts in a new and unexpected way, which we do best when we feel safe and comfortable enough to get curious and explore. In short, when we play.
Doing something that you enjoy as an artistic expression may seem like it’s taking time away from your work, but really you are supporting your creative process by giving your mind a chance to explore new things. This will directly translate to your wok becoming more expressive and expansive than if you would have spent that same time perfecting your balayage technique.
Choosing to do the work you love is about much more than having a fulfilling career. It’s about learning how to incorporate your work into your lifestyle in a holistic, healthy way. As a creative professional, your livelihood is directly tied to your mental and emotional wellness. So, while you are busy thinking of way to best take care of your clients, don’t forget to take some time out for yourself and your creative process.