Animators are under constant pressure to be creative, but more often than not, pressure can stifle or hinder creativity rather than allow it to thrive. Though many animators are passionate about their craft, the pressure to be creative combined with a heavy workload can make them feel burned out.
Burnout is a result of chronic stress. It manifests as exhaustion, lack of motivation, and a decline in one’s professional performance.
The best cure and preventive measure animators can take to not get burned out is to take a sabbatical. This is a period of rest from work that can last from 2 months to a year. If you’ve been thinking of whether you should file for a sabbatical, here are a few things that a sabbatical can do for you.
1) Cure and Prevent Burnout for Animators
Apart from having adverse effects on your health, burnout can also lead to cognitive problems, such as difficulty concentrating. Chronic stress and an overworked system can also make you more forgetful. Individuals experiencing burnout often experience cynicism, frustration, and a more pessimistic outlook on life.
With exhaustion, lack of motivation, and impaired cognitive function, your performance at work may also be declining. This can even lead to a vicious cycle of losing more and more motivation due to being upset by your poor performance.
Taking time off from work to rest allows you to regain clarity of mind that can help you assess your work habits and motivation to perform better at work.
2) Rekindle Your Love for Animation
The truth is that pursuing even your biggest passions as a career can still take some of the fun out of it. You might have enjoyed animating more before working professionally because you were free to decide your projects and workload. Working on projects commissioned by an employer or client to earn a living makes the endeavor less enjoyable to a point.
As a professional animator - whether freelance or otherwise - you often have to undertake projects you have little or no interest in. Perhaps your animation client’s industry is of little interest to you, or some details of the project aren’t to your liking. And assuming this is the case for most of your workweek, it’s no surprise that you’ve grown tired of staring at animation software.
During a sabbatical, you’ll be free from the heavy workload of animation projects, which will enable you to do plenty of other things. Even if you spend some of this free time animating, the absence of any pressure to be creative will allow you to do what you love best and remind you why you enjoy it.
3) Get Your Creative Juices Flowing Again
People who work in creative industries such as writers, musicians, animators, and the like always stress the importance of stepping away from work and taking your mind off it. Unfortunately, they don’t always follow their own advice.
While you might think that taking time off might temporarily “shut down” your creative abilities, that’s not the case. In fact, you might have some of your best animation ideas during your sabbatical. Many people report getting their best ideas when they aren’t actively trying to look for them. Paul McCartney got the idea for one of the Beatles’ greatest hits, “Yesterday” immediately after waking up one morning.
The relaxed state that your mind is in during these mundane activities promotes creativity. One of the best ways to get inspired is to relieve your mind of pressure. You never know when inspiration will hit, so the best thing you can do is to make your brain more receptive to it when it comes.
Mundane activities such as doing chores, brushing your teeth, and taking a shower might lead to accidental inspiration. Because they don’t require immense focus, they allow your mind to wander off. This wandering off is often what leads to the long-awaited “eureka” moments.
But just because you’re taking a break from animating doesn’t mean you have to be idle. You can explore other ways of expressing your creativity. Try writing, baking, or painting. Even if they’re methods you don’t normally turn to, they can still help your creativity flow while allowing you to take a break from your usual medium.
Since there’s no pressure to work, see what happens when you let your creativity flow through a different medium. This might turn into a new hobby. Pursuing a hobby with little or nothing to do with animation on your days off can help you avoid burnout and give you a more balanced mental state.
You’re more likely to get tired of working when it’s the only thing on your mind and your schedule. Your new hobby can also enable you to discover new learning tactics that can help you at work.
You can also use your time off to catch up with friends you’ve been too busy to talk to. It’s even better if these friends aren’t your colleagues so that you’re more likely to talk about things other than your work.
If you find that you need to talk about your feelings about work, feel free to do so with a friend or loved one. Having someone to talk to about feelings of frustration can help immensely. It can help you process your feelings and determine what you need to change about your lifestyle or mindset to avoid having these frustrations in the future.
4) Gain a New Perspective On Animation
All that said, we don’t encourage you to take a break for the sole purpose of getting inspiration for that storyboard you’ve been stuck on - though that is a nice bonus. Distancing yourself from your work can give you new perspectives on your creative pursuits and your work habits.
Gaining these new insights while you were neck-deep in animating videos just wasn’t possible because your mind was too occupied. When you come back to work, you’ll have a refreshed mind and fresh eyes.
5) Feel Motivated to Return to Work
You’ll know that your creative sabbatical was well-spent when at the end of it you look forward to getting back to work. With your replenished energy and renewed love for your animation, you’ll be excited to apply the new insights you’ve gained to your tasks. There’s nothing better than coming back to work knowing you have a lot to offer.
Taking a sabbatical when you need to is of the utmost importance when you’re an animator. The constant pressure to be creative and meet deadlines can mentally and physically exhaust you, take away your motivation, and even - for some time - your love for your craft.
You are not a machine - and even a machine needs to be recharged. A sabbatical will give you enough time to rest, reflect on your work habits and creative processes, and rekindle your love for animation.