Creativity Issue

How to Avoid Creative Burnout

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Joseph Cardillo, Ph.D., best-selling author of 'Body Intelligence,' offers some advice for balancing oneself in a job that requires "high-energy torque": Try taking a walk, listening to nature or brightening the office lights.

Creative energy is different from energy involved in academics or business: It's concentrated. The energy that one employs in athletics is closest. It doesn't matter if you're writing a poem or playing a role: The majority of your day is spent compressing your body's energy so that it's tight as a laser, beaming on one thing, over and over again. At the end of the day, that high-energy torque leaves you completely imbalanced; no one can withstand that for long.

The key for creatives is to recognize when they are running low and running high and to have two different mental "files" at their disposal: one containing a list of things to do to calm oneself (e.g., listen to nature sounds or songs with 100 BPM or fewer for 12 minutes; smell a tranquil scent) and the other, a list of things to activate oneself (take a walk, brighten the office lights, wear red). That way you can help achieve balance, because when you look at the body's electrical and chemical activity, there is an optimal creative place right in the middle, between calm and alert. Too mellow or overexcited, you won't be able to do the job. To stay in either extreme for too long will reduce performance at all levels, emotionally, physically and cognitively — the pipeline will run dry.

This story first appeared in the Jan. 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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