ArtScience

The Science of Burnout and What To Do.

Capitalism conditions us to feel like we don't deserve time off. We do.

Burn out is a real thing. I have it. I’ve officially hit a wall with my creativity this week. Honestly, I really have been trying hard to get work done but I’ve been spinning my wheels. I wake up and I pack orders, if I have any from my etsy shop and then I exercise. Next step, is to go into the art studio and work. Work and work some more. To survive as an artist or a crafter you have to constantly produce. It may not sound like a real job to people who work a regular 9 to 5 but owning your own craft business for 15 years is a lot of work. It’s not just coming up with new ideas, it’s taxes and shipping and customer service and emails and promoting and photography and posting items online and then you still have to make everything. For the past week or two, life stuff, like my parents who are in their 70s splitting up after 50ish years of being together, and just the constant grind of never having enough money, plus American democracy being smashed in plain view, and women’s rights being chipped away at, piled upon a work load that doesn’t pay a living wage has taken its toll. I’m exhausted. Literally, by 1 in the afternoon I just want to give up. Lately, I have been waking up tired.

I did a little research and it turns out that while my particular circumstances may be slightly unique, in that I’m self employed and an artist, the symptoms of work burnout are pretty similar in all jobs. Fatigue, inability to focus, lack of creativity, dips in production and a general shitty mood are are very common experiences.

Phychology Today says that Americans need to feel like they deserve to take a vacation. They have an article called, Three Science Based Reasons Vacations Boost Productivity. And it is a weird sort of conditioning that we have here in this capitalist society that makes us feel like we have to earn a break. Everything in America has a value, especially its people. I know that I have been conditioned to think that what I do isn’t real work, even though I work at my art business every single day. Society doesn’t pay me what a real job pays so I in turn internalize that to mean that I am not valued and I don’t deserve the things that regular workers deserve. Like time off or health care.

But time off might actually be the cure to some of my ills. In fact, just changing your surroundings and unplugging from the internet for a few days can boost creativity and happiness. The things we have been conditioned to think we don’t deserve actually are the things we need. We all need a break and some time to reboot our brains- even self-employed makers and crafters.

On that note I’m headed out to Zuma beach. It’s just a car ride away but it will potentially make a world of difference. I’ll be back to work in a few days and hopefully my work will thank me for it. I’ll ask the boss for a review. 😉

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Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia, science-loving artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and is currently in love with pottery. Daily maker of art and leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Tip Jar is here.

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