364 | Creative Energy and Exhaustion

Creative energy sometimes goes hand in hand with physical, mental, and/or emotional fatigue.

It can be a strange and sometimes confusing feeling. But an important one to recognise and manage effectively if we want to experience life in all its creative joy.

Creative energy is different from physical, mental, and emotional energy. In fact, it is usually created when we invest those other types of energy into meaningful endeavours and projects.

It fuels the connection we have with the curiosities, creative pursuits, and interests that resonate with our core. In other words, our ‘life’s work’.

Travel and Creative Energy

Sources of Creative Energy

I have felt it in many places over the years. For example, at conferences and festivals. Hanging out with friends and family. Recording/writing in the studio. Performing live at gigs. Engaging on Zoom calls. During school lessons. While travelling.

It starts for me as a feeling of satisfied and excited exhaustion. But if I don’t manage it effectively it can turn into long-term creative exhaustion. And lead to inaction.

Time Capsule Episode ⏰

In this episode, I go back into a podcast I recorded in 2018 after my visit to Auschwitz in Poland. The trip soon became a deep source of creative energy for me, and it infused different parts of my being in different ways.

We will use the theme of ‘travel’ to explore parallels across other energy-intensive activities. Thinking about what to do when we are feeling both exhausted and inspired at the same time. And what we might do with the sabotaging temptation to ‘keep going’, especially if we’re introverted and/or highly sensitive people.

We will consider ways we can use our natural rhythms and inner awareness to work WITH these experiences to enjoy more creative energy in our lives.

When Plans Come Together

It always seems to surprise me when something I plan actually comes together.

I always feel absolutely delighted if the plane, bus, train, or boat is expecting me (because I bought the correct ticket). Yes, I’m easily pleased!

I also love connecting the dots of a plan and bringing into life what until now existed only in theory and on paper.

It’s similar to the simple joy I get from the magic of creativity itself. I love that we can imagine something that hasn’t yet happened. We can map out the steps to make it happen. And we can follow that plan to actually turn imagination into reality. That’s mad!

But it’s not only the relief of things going to plan that energises me.

There is also something strangely rewarding and enriching about solving problems when things don’t go quite as expected. It’s not often fun at the time and it’s usually even more tiring. But I love coming out the other end with a story I can use to remind myself of challenges I’ve faced, ridden, and overcome in some way.

Creative Energy Management Check

Planning and preparing with vigilance helps things run smoothly. Enough is enough!

Worry (anxiety about things beyond our control going wrong) can become an energy rot that disturbs the anticipation (and joy) of travel.

Cultural Dots

Another source of creative energy that travel brings is that it can broaden the field of vision. It’s easy to get comfortable and complacent in our beliefs about the world. Or to view people outside of our immediate context through the lens of stereotypes and sweeping generalisations.

It’s both exhausting and energising to have our perceptions shaken.

But it’s helpful to engage with what underpins other cultures so that we might better understand the foundations of our own.

I love to slow down and observe the world happening around me. I enjoy listening to the musicality of other languages. And I am fascinated by the mundane rhythms and routines that make up everyday life.

Creative Energy Management Check

Immersion in a completely different culture, place, routine, belief system, language, customs etc can be unanchoring, exhilarating, and exhausting.

Consider some ‘home comforts’ that might anchor you with a calm sense of familiarity so that the novelty augments rather than ruins the overall experience.

Shifting the Lens

Shifting our physical state into a different environment can help us re-focus and notice things in new creative ways. Even a short trip (for the day or a few nights), can be enough to spark something that helps us see beyond the walls we build around everyday life. It can help manoeuvre something inside.

Creative Energy Management Check

Certain aspects of travel can take their toll on our innate sensitiveness. Unfamiliar environments breed unfamiliar sounds, smells, and feelings.

Highly (Deeply) Sensitive People in unfamiliar surroundings naturally function at a heightened level of alertness (taking a lot more environmental stimuli in).

Integration into a place or routine (long term travel) can take time.

It requires attention to nurture a sense of awareness (understanding the environment so you can unconsciously identify useful sensory information and ignore irrelevant information).

Awareness can eventually replace our state of alertness (anticipating danger so noticing disturbances in EVERY piece of sensory information).

Rhythm, pace, and patience are all key when it comes to working with our natural temperaments to build and sustain creative energy.

Everything comes together in its own sweet time.

But everything falls apart if we try to force it, rush it, and expect too much of ourselves too soon. This is difficult, especially when creative energy brings with it a lot of raw excitement and enthusiasm that says “jump in and get cracking right away”.

Over to You

When has a project, event, or experience left you feeling both exhausted and creatively energised at the same time? I’d love to hear your stories with this stuff in the comments below (or send me a personal message).

2 comments
    1. Thanks so much, Brett! So glad it landed – it’s a really interesting exercise to go back and hold past material up to the light of my present.

      Also, I just had a look at I am The Lab. What a beautiful place and concept. Love what you’re building there! 🙂

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