Imagine this: you wake up feeling exhausted, even though you got a full eight hours of sleep. After moving through your morning routine—no matter how chaotic or calm—you log onto your computer, and check off your to-do list in a cynical, robotic fashion. Soon enough, it’s evening, but it feels like you got nothing done.
Sound eerily familiar?
Adam Grant calls it languishing. Glennon Doyle calls it feeling ‘half alive’. At Daydreamers, the mental well-being company I co-founded, we call it hamster-wheeling. In scientific terms, these parts of seemingly normal daily life are the three main aspects of burnout: exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficiency.
It’s no surprise that we are currently living through a period of burnout, but this isn’t just a recent phenomenon. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been warning us of collective burnout since for years now (mindbodygreen even said we were in the ‘Age of Burnout’ back in 2019). And, if we’re being honest, we’ve been feeling the effects of our overworked, productivity-obsessed culture for decades.
Yet, as a clinical psychology researcher and someone who has been studying burnout—and its antidote—for years, I think there’s something deeper behind our robotic nature: lack of exercising our creative brain.
Our brains are wired to find meaning, beauty and awe in all that we do—if we let them. And, the easiest way to tap back into that innate human behavior to create is simple: Get into the creative flow.