I SPEND MY DAYS engaged in creative activities: writing, photography, editing, course development, and marketing. I start early and end late, usually rising to my alarm at 6:30 am and going to bed between 10:30 and midnight. (I allow myself to sleep in at least one weekend morning each weekend to catch up on lost sleep.) Every day, by the time cleaning the dinner dishes rolls around—and yes, there are the usual homemaking, meal-making, and parenting activities as well as the “work” kind—my mind is just plain tired of thinking. I don’t have anything left for the four or five things that remain on my ambitious to-do list.
If I kept up this pace without engaging in other, less creative and more restorative activities, burnout would be only too real. So what do I do? On a more-or-less daily basis, here is a list of ways I restore my creative energy (and my sanity!).
1) Exercise—It’s essential to my sense of well being. Not only does exercise keep me physically fit, but it contributes to my emotional balance. In addition, it reminds me to be thankful for my body and all that it does for me.
2) Meditate—Now, I have to admit that meditation is one thing I tend to push to the bottom of the list. Yet it is one of the most important ways I can spend 10 or 15 minutes each day. Meditation slows my overactive mind, calms and centers me, and helps me maintain perspective.
3) Read—I am an incessant reader. Reading materials of all kinds litter nearly every flat surface of my home. Between magazines, ebooks downloaded (and yes, printed) from the Internet, to textbooks and literature, my mind sponges from the written word. However, at the end of a long day of absorbing and creating information—whether verbal or visual—I like to read good, entertaining fiction.
4) Write in my journal—At least 10 minutes every day, often more. It could be said that journal writing is a form of meditation, because it accomplishes some of the same benefits. I think of it more as a way of processing thoughts and emotions, as well as a way of chronicling important (and not so important) events in my life. It gives me a place to talk about what’s bothering me, to fuss and whine, and then, ultimately, to turn my thoughts to positive and productive ways of being.
My journal is a place where I write down my dreams and goals for the coming week, year, or undefined period of time. It’s also a mirror of sorts—when I read back to myself what I have written, I often am able to retrieve bits and nuggets of my own inner wisdom. Things I may not have understood or seen when I wrote them. It’s a place for me to explore who I am and who I want to be in this world. It’s also an idea clearinghouse.
When I am done writing my journal each day—usually first thing each morning—I am focused and ready to begin my day. If I journal later in the day it’s a welcome, restorative break.
5) Practice Gratitude—All of these things remind me to be thankful for my life, for the ability and time to journal, read, meditate, exercise, and to express myself creatively. For my wonderful family. For the abundance I experience in so many ways. When I remember to practice gratitude on a daily basis, my circumstances don’t change; they just seem to.
These are the things that work for me. I’m interested in hearing from you. What do you do to restore your creative energy when you are tired or on the edge of burnout? What things do you do frequently, and what things—vacations, for example—occasionally?