Getting the right brain to work in harmony with your left brain is quite a challenge.
I have this mental picture of my brain as a lion tamer. My left brain is cracking the whip, forcing my right brain to perform artistically as it roars loudly, but complies nonetheless. Needless to say, this tug-of-war between cranial regions can produce mental fatigue. And prolonged mental fatigue is the preface of burnout, which must be avoided at all costs.
Brain Books 2010 (Photo credit: brewbooks)
There are few things you can do to relieve the pressure on your gray cells, and taking these precautions will quickly extinguish the flames of burnout before you are charred beyond recognition. When you start to feel a little crispy, remember these things:
1) Keep your sense of humor. Laughter, seeing the humorous side, will always relieve your mental strain and brighten your outlook on life.
2) Make to-do lists. When your head becomes filled with the minutiae of all the billions of details you need to remember, take time to write it all down. Make a list of everything that is bothering you. The physical act of writing lets your left brain stop nagging you long enough to allow your right brain to get down to the business of creating.
3) Take a nature break and spend some time out of doors, no matter what the weather is like. Just a few minutes to breathe fresh air, feel the sun on your skin, study the sky and cloud formations, watch a bird fly past, make a snowball, pick a flower or go barefoot in the grass will renew your energy level and refresh your spirit.
4) Exercise daily. Even a short walk will help get oxygen to your brain, and the brain chemicals (endorphins) released during aerobic exercise help the brain to function better.
5) Eat regularly. A brief interlude to have snacks and perhaps some chocolate will give your painting a fresh new perspective.
6) Stay organized. Take the time to straighten out your paperwork, materials and other undertakings which relates to your professional job.
7) Seek assistance, gather support and rally the troops during the busy spells. Delegate as much responsibility as possible, and pass on every task that you do not have to do yourself.
8) Take a holiday. This is a variation on the theme of the proverbial mental health day. Go to a place of your choice that could allow your thoughts to assemble peacefully with your motivation.
9) Reward yourself. Pat yourself on the back often, and indulge yourself with a little treat when you’ve accomplished something on your job.
If the quick fixes don’t seem to douse the flames of burnout, you probably have a more serious case. True burnout is the hopeless feeling you get when you have too much to do, with too many responsibilities and not enough time to get everything completed in the manner you want. If you function this way for too long, you will begin to feel like blackened toast.
Beware of the symptoms of burnout: the fleeting desire to go get a “real” job; being totally exhausted even after a full night’s sleep; suffering from recurring or chronic illness; or finding yourself short-tempered and overly cranky. There are other dreaded symptoms of burnout: Procrastination, Pessimism, Peevish Perfectionism. If you can use any of these four words to describe your current frame of mind, it is time to perform triage and salve the blisters.