Passion is often seen as a cure against burnout. Working with passion would prevent a burnout. If that would be true, there wouldn’t be any artists with a burnout, right? Unfortunately that’s not true.

Many artists suffer from burnout. Often it seems to come out of nowhere. The passion you have for your art, makes you to overlook the early warning signs. That’s what the article below is about.

Do you want to know if you need to be alert about a burnout yourself? Take the test.

Hilde Spille

Passion and burnout

Passion gives you a positive vibe that can protect you against burnout. And the same passion can make you go too far, so you are more likely to burn out.

Last month I did a ‘Career Clinic’ about passion and burnout for students of the pop department of Conservatory of Amsterdam, earlier this month I did a masterclass about the same subject for students at the Herman Brood Academy in Utrecht.

In Amsterdam I talked to a small group of students. It was with a great atmosphere, very relaxed, open and honest. I mentioned several statements that can function as signal for burnout. One of the statements was, that you feel responsible, even for tasks that are not yours. Everyone answered positive to this one!

Are you curious how you would score? Take the test.

The danger of burnout is, that it knocks you down. It’s not like a flu, when you get back to your normal self within 2 weeks. The symptoms can be similar though. Once you’ve got a burnout, you are so tired that you can’t take one single step anymore. Everything becomes a very heavy burden. You can’t even bring yourself to playing some music for yourself or going out to buy some bread. Your passion in itself feels like a burdon.

On average, people need 11 month to recover from a burnout, show statistics of Broodfonds, a Dutch alternative for a work-disability-insurance for entrepreneurs. Imagine, being out of the running for that long! Many musicians loose their passion for music during their burnout period. When feeling better, music reminds them too much on the bad period just before the burnout, on how their passion for music drove them to neglect their health.

Music shows us that there is more to this world than politics, economics and the daily rush we live in. Music shows us that we can connect, even if we speak different languages. Music is a shortcut to our emotions. Music is important to you, to me, to the world. That makes it important to all of us to care for musicians.

I’m very passionate about preventing burnout for musicians. In the training Artist’s Burnout Defence Shield you can develop your own personal protection against burnout.

If you want to prevent a burnout, you have to look broader than your passion. Passion is good, but you have to realize that other factors are important too. Your health, your physical condition, your network, your purpose and your energy are just as important. They can all support your passion.

You want to keep your passion burning, without burning out. So you have discover how to recharge. You have to develop the habit of regularly putting on more wood to the fireplace, in order to keep the fire burning.

How you can recharge, is different for every person and situation. I recharge by sitting on the couch with a cup of tea and a nice book. My sister needs people around her, that gives her energy. Jogging, or swimming in cold water, can give you a great energy boost too. Often the energy comes from something that is not directly linked to your passion.

In her renowned book “The Artist’s Way”, Julia Cameron advises every artist to book a weekly date, an ‘artist date’. The ‘artist date’ is a date with your inner artist, with no one else. You take your inner artist to a date, to get inspired, to recharge, to put some more wood on the fireplace. It can be a visit to a museum, a visit to the library, a long stroll in the woods or on the beach, a visit to a record store or a music instrument store. Most important is, that it feels as an inspiring treat to yourself.

What ‘artist date’ do you plan for yourself this week?

About me

I’m Hilde Spille and I help musicians to use their strong aspects to regain their mental power. I strongly believe that increasing the mental health will make you more creative and succesful as a musician.

With 22 years experience in working with artists in the international live music business, I’m now using my background as master in psychology to write about the psychological side of being an artist in my blog Compass for Creatives. The blog with 200 posts is visited daily by 350 visitors with 2000 total hits on average.

Recently there are some great initatives and articles about the mental health of musicians in the news. They all create awareness for the mental health musicians. I’m working on creating awareness with my blog and with guest lectures at various European universities. The next step is make the threshold for musicians to look for mental health support as low as possible. Mental coaching can make a big difference.

If you want to know more about mental trainings, please contact me.

Build Your Own Artist’s Burnout Defence Shield

Online you can find many websites that offer a burnout check. In most of them, passion is mentioned as a protection against burnout. It sounds logic and is true for people who have a regular job.

But for artists it’s different. Despite the passion for what they do, there are many artists suffering from burnout. As an artists, your passion is your work. You love what you do. That makes it even harder to see the warning signs when you cross your mental borders.

The test below is for you and for all artists, to check if you are in danger of a burnout.

Quick check: Are you in danger of a burnout?
Please count how many times you agree with the statements.

1. I find it difficult to concentrate.
2. I’m very irritable, about very small things.
3. I feel very responsible, even for tasks of other people.
4. There are only few days per month that I don’t need painkillers to get me through.
5. I’m on my own and I often feel lonely.
6. Everything feels as a duty lately, even making art.
7. I often have trouble falling asleep.
8. My tasks and my bucket list are more important than how I feel.
9. I can’t really enjoy my accomplishments, things can always be done better.
10. I’m afraid to miss important opportunities when I’m not available 24/7.

If you agree with 5 statements or less, you currently don’t have to worry.
If you agree with 6 statements or more, you need to be alert for a burnout, even if you don’t feel like being close to it yet.

The test is a quick check and by far not complete. It gives you a rough idea. None of the statements alone is an indication for burnout, it’s the combination. There are many indicators that I left out, to keep the check simple and easy.

If you have questions or if you want more information, please contact me.

People with a burnout are knocked out for 11 months on average, show statistics of Broodfonds, an alternative to an occupational disability insurance for entrepreneurs. Imagine what that means to you, to your life, to your relationships, to your work, to your income. Everything you take for granted right now. will be at risk. You have to cancel shows, to delay a new album, you can’t network, you can’t keep engaged with your fans.

A burnout always comes gradually. If you listen to your body and mind, you will be alerted by the early warning signs and you will be able to prevent a burnout. Only if you ignore the signs, a burnout seems to come out of nowhere. It often starts with stress at work or with some major changes in your private life. If the stress in one area of your life gets accompanied by setbacks in the other area, it’s hard to find the resilience to bounce back.

If a burnout hits you, it’s too late to take any precautions. For many artists it means, that after recovery they have to start from scratch again. Some artists even decide to quit with their art all together.

The alternative is, to build your own Artist’s Burnout Defence Shield, to protect yourself against a burnout.

The training to build your own Artist’s Burnout Defence Shield takes 3 months. It allows you to keep working during the mental training while you become protected against a burnout.

What can you expect?
In only 7 meetings,
– you will know how to deal with stress
– you will use a mental fence to create a safe space
– you will use with your strengths more often
– you will feel connected and supported
– you will care of yourself
– you will know how to protect your mind
– you will develop a mindset that protects you against burnout.

How does it work?
The training to build your own Artist’s Burnout Defence Shield is individual, tailored to your personal situation.
We work in one-on-one meetings in Nijmegen (the Netherlands), or on Skype.
We can do the sessions in English, German or Dutch, depending on your preference.
We will do 7 sessions, one session every 2 weeks.
Every session will take 1 hour.
Exercises in between the sessions are an important part of the training.
The costs for the whole training of 3 months are only € 700 (plus 21% Dutch VAT).

For more information, please contact me. Hilde Spille