If you love what you do, you’ll still work. Not only that, but you could work a bit too much, thus experiencing signs of burnout.
Burnout is no joke, and it can have a huge effect on your work and career. Read on to learn about the symptoms of burnout.
If you go from getting a ton of stuff done to struggling to do your work, there’s a chance it’s due to burnout. Of course, many factors can lower your productivity.
Maybe you get sick, or perhaps, like me, you haven’t had as much work to do in general. That can make it hard to want to be productive and get things done more efficiently.
But even if you haven’t seen a drop in work, you may spend more time on tasks that used to take you a few minutes. A lot of the other signs of burnout can lead to lower productivity, so keep this in mind as you look at other burnout signs.
Many people have anxiety no matter what their lives look like. However, if that’s not the case for you, it could be a sign you’re experiencing burnout in your work.
You might feel more stressed or anxious than usual about a performance or about teaching private lessons. Anxiety never feels good, and it can be common regardless of burnout.
However, if you notice a pattern with your anxiety, look into it. It could be that your work has changed or gotten more stressful. Anxiety might be the culprit and part of the larger issue of burnout.
Along with anxiety, you might feel way more tired than normal. Excessive tiredness can lead to fatigue. You may feel like it takes all of your energy to complete a simple task.
Of course, you may also feel more tired than usual if you’re getting less sleep. Maybe you have more gigs than you’re used to. Or you might be waking up earlier or going to bed later.
A lot of things can lead to fatigue. But if there’s no clear cause, you may want to consider if you’re showing other signs of burnout.
Unfortunately, burnout can also be associated with trouble sleeping. The stress of overworking yourself or the anxiety could keep you from falling asleep as easily has you have been.
Your stress or anxiety may also cause you to wake up in the middle of the night. None of these things are enjoyable, and trouble sleeping can lead to symptoms like fatigue from not sleeping as much as you need to.
Like many symptoms, trouble sleeping doesn’t necessarily mean you’re burnt out. It could be a sign of a medical condition that you need to treat. But if your doctor can’t come up with a diagnosis, burnout is a possibility.
One of the most surprising signs of burnout is an increase in headaches. This may happen due to the increase in stress. That stress can have a physiological effect on your body.
The changes could then manifest as more headaches. Of course, that’s not always going to be the cause. Unfortunately, a lot of us (including myself) suffer from migraine attacks.
As with most of the signs and symptoms on this list, talk to your doctor. Sure, burnout might be the cause, but so could a medical condition that you can treat to alleviate the symptom.
You may also feel a low mood and not be as excited about work. Maybe you dread the thought of taking your instrument out of the case to practice. Or you might not want to teach your next few private lessons.
A low mood can happen with burnout or on its own. We all have bad days where we just want to lay in bed and not think about the world. But if this is happening a lot, you may have burnout.
Of course, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about your symptoms. They may recommend therapy or other treatment options to help.
Lack of Creativity
Creativity is a vital part of making music. If you’re struggling with that, there’s a decent chance burnout is the reason why.
Maybe you can’t come up with the melody for your next composition. Or you’re struggling to solve a problem that your student is having in lessons. It can be stressful to not be as creative as you’re used to.
But burnout works in mysterious ways. In some people, it can inhibit the ability to think and be creative. As musicians, that can have a massive impact on our work, so it’s worth addressing as soon as possible.
Concentration issues can also be problematic signs of burnout. You need to concentrate on your work, whether you’re a performer, teacher, or do something else.
Music tasks in particular require some level of concentration and focus. If you can’t focus, you may miss a lot of the notes in your part. Then, you won’t do a good job in the performance or recording.
If you find yourself losing focus, consider if it’s burnout. Now, it can also be a symptom of certain medical conditions. So don’t rule out other things, but consider any potential causes.
Sometimes, when you experience the stress that comes with burnout, it can have an effect on your whole body. Your muscles may start to tense up, even when you’re not engaging them.
When you do engage them, such as to practice, the tension can cause significant problems. Of course, it can keep you from playing as fluidly as you need to when you work on a solo or technical passage.
You can relax your muscles, but stress and burnout may keep you from being as relaxed as you could be. So listen to your body, and take action to help treat your burnout and tense muscles.
How to Deal With Burnout
When you start noticing the signs of burnout, you may freak. It’s easy to do, especially if you don’t have any savings that can afford you time off.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do.
Consider Your Options
If you find your work is the cause of your burnout, consider if it’s really worth keeping that job. Of course, you need to pay the bills, but you might want to look for other jobs that may be less stressful.
If you work for yourself, maybe you need to change your business. I did that when I stopped offering private lessons. And I’m in the process of shifting away from relying totally on client work.
You don’t have to be a full-time performer or teacher to be a “real” musician. As long as music is a part of your life, you’re a musician. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Talk About It
Talking about your feelings and symptoms can also help. As I mentioned, it never hurts to see a doctor. They can go over your symptoms and determine if you have any medical conditions that need treatment.
A doctor can also refer you to a therapist that you can talk to about your burnout. And of course, you can talk with your family and friends. They can listen and just let you talk about your experience.
Sometimes, talking about it can make you feel better. It may not totally resolve the burnout, but it never hurts to try.
Try to Sleep
Sadly, burnout can make it hard to fall asleep. However, you should try to get as much sleep as you can. That can help relieve certain symptoms, such as the excessive tiredness you experience.
Even if you can’t sleep, at least give yourself time to rest. Try not to do any work that you don’t have to do. And if possible, take a few days off from teaching or other work.
Enjoy that time off, and it could help with burnout. Depending on the extent of your burnout, it may not fix it all the way. But it’s still good to give yourself a bit of time off.
How to Prevent Burnout
If you have yet to experience signs of burnout or if those signs are of other conditions, you’re lucky. But that doesn’t mean you should just keep doing what you’re doing.
Consider a few ideas to help reduce the chance of burning yourself out.
Change Your Schedule
If you can afford to, change your schedule a bit. In some cases, this may mean reducing your schedule, at least temporarily. Then, you can take time off to slow down the process toward burnout.
You can also look into setting up a new schedule. Maybe you find that you struggle to stay up late, so you move all of your lessons to earlier in the day.
Or you might find that your current work isn’t compatible with the schedule you want, so you pivot your business and career.
Focus on Priorities
We all have bills to pay, even if our expenses are still relatively low. That means you need to bring in a certain amount of money each month or year. So you should consider your priorities to pay those bills.
You should also think about non-financial priorities. That includes things like personal hygiene and eating a healthy diet. Exercising is also important, so look for physical activities you enjoy.
Don’t worry as much about other things. You can make time for things you like but don’t need to do. But if you try to cram too much into your schedule, you might burn yourself out.
Give Yourself Breaks
Taking breaks is another excellent way to help reduce the risk of burnout. I like to take short breaks throughout my day, such as for meals or even to just chill for like 30 minutes.
But you should also consider taking full days off when possible. Of course, you may not be able to do that on the weekends. So give yourself a day or two off during the week.
Do what works for you so that you can stay healthy and avoid burnout. If you never take any breaks, you’re almost certainly going to burn yourself out eventually.
As musicians, we enjoy what we do. But that can mean we never take time off, so it’s easy to burn out.
For that reason, it’s crucial to recognize the signs of burnout. Be sure you know the signs so that you can notice them in yourself and other musicians you know.