George is a writer who has not been asked to contribute any articles for a while, and has not been contacted by a publishing company for his latest work. The previous year was very successful and busy, but this one is extraordinarily slow. He is feeling bored, unproductive and disinterested in everyday activities. In addition, since he had neglected his social relationships during the time he was busy, he is now feeling lonely and isolated.
The above vignette illustrates an example of how a period with little creative work may be a red flag for feelings of depression, low self-worth and a "creative identity crisis."
On the other hand, when artists are active, busy and productive they may often have difficulty setting limits. They may take on one challenging task after the other and neglect to find the right balance between work and other activities. This may trigger feelings of anxiety and of being overwhelmed.
Mary is a fashion designer who recently felt inspired to begin working on her clothing line again. She has started contacting old network connections, is staying up late setting up her website, ordering business cards and looking for fashion competitions. She is having difficulty managing her time, remembering the tasks she has signed up for and feels anxious. Her mind is in many places at once and she is having a hard time sleeping.
In this example, the artist's fear of not doing enough to guarantee work for herself in the future is interfering with her ability to manage her time and to prioritize.
It is difficulty to find the "sweet spot" where someone feels productive, challenged and creative but not anxious nor bored.
In our sessions, clients and I work on:
- modifying expectations related to professions and lifestyles
- managing time
- maintaining balance among parts of one's life
- developing a sense of prioritizing
- relaxation exercises
- developing and sustaining social relations
- monitoring ups and downs
Do you have any insights on how to find the right place on the boredom--anxiety spectrum? When are things "just right"?