Social media revolves around sharing: photos, videos, quotes, thoughts, news, links, etc. One of the articles that caught my eye while scanning my feed this afternoon was "Why we are burning out in the arts." That to-the-point title caught my interest more effectively than 20 mind-numbing click-bait offerings. It's worth the read, and it got me thinking further on the subject.
As artists, our work is to create. Particularly in the film industry, while in the middle of a project, we are often dedicating 12 to 18 hours a day to our task! And because we are trained to sustain the long days, even when we need a respite, after a day or so it is tempting to feel guilty for not "working" in that moment. However, if we never take the time to recreate, our think-tank engine will soon be running on fumes.
What do you do when the glass is neither half empty or half full...it's just...empty?
I've experienced burnout to varying degrees in the past 6 years of working in the industry. Thankfully, I am growing more and more aware of how to preempt it by intentional periods of rest or "slowing down" for a couple of weeks after an intense project.
When I take the time to refuel and recharge, not only am I more productive during my "work time," but I actually have the energy to "have a life." Letting myself sleep in a few mornings in a row, memorizing Scripture (I use this fun app), learning or writing new songs, reading some meaty fiction, and playing with young children are some of my tried and true refreshers.
Maybe it's part of having introverted tendencies, but I find I have to watch out for emotional and spiritual exhaustion more carefully than the strictly physical kind. Losing sleep is one thing, but not making time to debrief internally and relate with God drains my battery even faster.
The danger there is that this can lead to escapism, mainly due to misdiagnosis of the symptoms. Similar to being dehydrated, and turning to comfort food rather than reaching for water.
Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary (or work to exhaustion) and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11: 28-30, NASB)
Or in the Message paraphrase: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Jesus would often pull away from the crowds. He would "withdraw to a solitary place" with his disciples. To rest. To pray. To invest in the people closest to him. Granted, the crowds usually followed him! But the example is there just the same. :)
There is a deep reservoir of strength and peace to be found at the throne of grace, where we can come confidently to find help in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16) When we do not avail ourselves of this grace, it is difficult to extend it to others. We can quickly become irritable and obnoxious to those we love the most! But there is a solution.
Put on your oxygen mask. Take the restorative measures you must. Drink deep from the well of living water, and help yourself to grace!