Doing creative work during a global pandemic is draining.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard from more than one content marketing colleague that they’re hitting the wall. Emotionally. Creatively. Physically. Not knowing how our day-to-day lives will continue to evolve away from our previous comforts is mentally taxing and depleting our precious creative brainpower.
This stress can cause burnout, according to a May 2020 article about the pandemic by Dimitrios Tsatiris, MD for PsychCentral. Burnout is an elevated level of exhaustion due to excessive demands on our resources, strength and energy. If you’re feeling apathetic, irritable, dissatisfied and are simply doing less than usual, you may be experiencing burnout. I recommend speaking with a licensed therapist about how to manage these emotions so you can start feeling like your usual self again.
I’m definitely experiencing burnout, but a girl’s gotta pay the bills. So, I’m still writing. And, I’m doing it very differently.
Right now, I’m not focused on producing as much content as possible, or what I was capable of last summer. I’m focused on my wellness. The overall theme in the following ideas is self-care so you can optimize your (most likely shorter than usual) periods of focused work.
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Managing a Pandemic and Writing Career
I’m incredibly grateful for my multiple clients and the ability to schedule my writing time when I’m most creatively focused and inspired. That’s a huge perk of deadline-based project work, rather than being required to write during set hours (like in my old newsroom days). If you’re curious, I share specifically how I get into a content producing mindset in this blog post, How I Find My Creative Flow for Optimal Writing.
During the pandemic, I’m focusing on these five things.
I’m napping more.
When I wrote this piece on the health benefits of sleep, I completely changed the way I think about rest and naps. They are as helpful (maybe more so) as taking medicine when it comes to repairing the physical and mental body. Sleep is when your subconscious untangles the information you’ve gathered during the day and repairs body tissues. Use those zzz’s to press the reset button on your mind and body. I find that when I wake up in the morning, I feel the most centered and ready to tackle creative work. I leave the mundane office tasks, like invoicing and replying to emails, for the afternoon to best optimize my time and energy.
I’m eating healthier.
I’ve always been a cheerleader for balanced nutrition and eating a rainbow of colorful whole foods, but right now, I’m practicing it even more. I’m making lots of vegetable lo mein, smoothies and salads to fuel my body with a variety of nutrients. I want my physical health to be as strong as possible while I process the heavy feelings of this pandemic. I also find that when I eat nourishing meals, my mind is sharper and more focused, so creative work comes more easily. Harvard Medical School suggests eating more green leafy vegetables, fatty fish, berries, walnuts and…coffee or tea!
I’m scheduling fewer writing assignments.
Professional writers take on multiple projects to keep the income flowing. Imagine being back in school and working on a new research paper (or two or three) each day. It’s kind of like that. It can be exciting and fulfilling, but also mentally fatiguing and busy. So, I’m prioritizing projects that give me the most value for my time. And by value I mean enjoyment and income. When we work on projects that align with our values and topics we truly enjoy, creativity flows instinctively.
I’m getting outside.
I’m thankful I live in an area where I can easily access parks and nature trails. I’ve been taking longer walks with my dog and sitting under trees, simply being in the moment. My meditation practice helps me release the past and take focus away from worrying about the future. All we really have is this one moment, right now. Find the good in it, and enjoy. This intentional thinking is like a muscle that strengthens over time and helps me focus when I’m at my desk too.
I’m moving my body.
In addition to walking and hiking outside, I’m swimming and doing yoga. Stretching our muscles helps to release pent up tension in the body. I’m setting small, manageable personal goals for these activities to even further flex my goal-setting and achieving abilities. This in turn, helps me have a goal-oriented mindset, which carries over into my work and ability to complete tasks on deadlines, despite the heaviness of the current global situation.
How are you staying focused during the pandemic? Are you still managing to do creative work? Let’s help each other out and chat about this topic! Comment below.
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