Do You Want Burnout or Balance? by @ArtistThink

by Carrie Brummer | Featured Contributor

Balance Or Burnout SOI

The Struggle to Find Balance: How Creativity Can Help

When I taught in schools, art was my release. I could go home after work, take out some paint and lose myself. I escaped from the tedium of teacher meetings, an angry parent, or from the frustration that comes after a student gives up trying.

Making time for creative release was even more important to me the year I was an administrator. The constant discipline of students was taxing. Art, when I did make the time, forced me to disconnect. It all changed when I left my job and started working for myself as an artist entrepreneur: my outlet became my full time job. It made me wonder, how many people actually make room in their lives for creative play?

It seems today it’s harder than ever to make time for something fun. We all know we are better at our jobs and life if we take the break we need (and deserve)! Here are four strategies for your creative release.

The 4 Step Recipe for Creative Release 

1) Take a risk: try something arts based. You can’t feel the rush that comes from trying something new or different if you don’t give that creative inkling a real go of it! How can you take risk in your professional life if you don’t step up and start drawing in the blank sketchbook hiding in your bottom drawer?

2) AVOID goal-setting for your creative play! You heard me. Yes, this is coming from crazy project (not cat) lady who always has a work in progress. I even have a waiting list for future projects. Goals infer that there is a right and wrong way to do something because we strive towards an end-goal. If the arts are new to you, that is the last thing you need to hear in the back of your head. Your only goal with creative release is to have fun.

3) Take up that writing/singing/drawing class you’ve talked about, you know you want to do something new! Taking a class is a perfect way of making time for your creative play, not to mention a means of accountability. It’s a lot harder to say no to your creative time when you have a teacher expecting you. Kickstart your creative confidence so you can easily make time for play, with or without a class.

4) Do something creative for yourself that is selfish and fun. You heard me: selfish, fun. What feels silly but is something you’ve wanted to dabble in? Don’t fall into the trap of making all of your creative projects goal-oriented (for purchase, for competition, for other people’s eyes) (see #2); that can actually impede our creativity. Find your sense of wonder again and explore some art materials.

Burnout or Balance, Your Choice

Remember how important it is to slow down and have some fun as part of your busy day. The arts don’t have to be about making a masterpiece; sometimes working towards perfection or skill can take away from the pleasure of your experience. Be open to trying a creative activity. And don’t save it for vacations. That’s not balance, that’s burnout waiting to happen.

It took me a proper vacation of (mostly) disconnecting to catch my breath and really acknowledge the extent of my exhaustion, driven entirely by my self-assigned pace. We’ve all been there before. It’s the struggle for balance. There is a simple answer: Be Creative.

Research by Dr. Stuart Brown suggests happier, healthier adults are those who play. Charlie Hoehn also wrote about it in his book Play it Away; his life changed dramatically for the better once he incorporated play into his life.  Almost every single person I meet that hears I’m an artist responds with, “One day I hope to do something fun like that,” or “I wish I could draw.” We deserve more than “I hope” or “I wish.” How about “I am fun,” “I am creative!?”

What’s your secret wish for play? It’s time to get out that blank sketchbook. Your only regret will be you didn’t play sooner.

How do you plan to leave Burnout for Balance? I want to know! Share in the comments below.


Carrie Brummer – Educator, Creative Play Advocate, Arts Empowerer - living in Muscat, Oman (for now!)

portrait-of-carrieCarrie Brummer is an artist educator nomad. Teaching and leading in school systems for 9 years in the USA and the Middle East helped her see the gap in education that prevents people from accessing interests they love. She has tired of the countless stories from people all over the world saying, “I’ve always wanted to learn how to draw,” or, “I wish I could write a novel someday.” It’s become her mission to share her passion for the arts and encourage everyone to take creative risks in their lives.

Carrie’s current creative baby is to encourage creative play for adults; everyone can use an opportunity to slow down from their hectic lives. Creative play is not only important for children, it makes adults happier, healthier, and more fulfilled human beings. Carrie actively exhibits her artwork worldwide and teaches courses in art history and the arts.

When Carrie isn’t painting, doing yoga or baking chocolate chip cookies, she is playing board games with her husband, looking for new learning opportunities, or planning their next trip. You can read more about her adventures in travel and the arts on Artist Think.

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