As content creators, we wear many hats throughout our day: we create content, edit and proofread our work, run our own social media, and maybe even our own retail stores. Most content creators are an agency unto themselves, running to-and-fro putting out fires and making things happen. Throw in a year like 2020 to the mix, and the added stress makes content creators more susceptible to burnout than ever before.
Burnout is a documented state where a person ‘loses meaning’ in the work they do. This loss of meaning manifests in the form of emotional, physical, or mental exhaustion, and just an overall sense of “Why am I even doing this?”
Take it from personal experience: burnout can happen to everyone, even if it’s not related specifically to the work you are doing at hand. No person is an island, and without some sort of support system, it’s very easy to buckle under all of the pressure.
Burnout isn’t something that comes on all at once; it’s something that steadily (and sometimes invisibly) builds up over time. It may boil over in an emotional outburst, but most times it stays simmering in the background, affecting the work you do.
According to the WHO, the symptoms of burnout can include:
- feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
- increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
- reduced professional efficacy.
The Mayo Clinic gets more specific with symptoms such as:
- Excessive stress
- Sadness, anger or irritability
- Alcohol or substance misuse
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Vulnerability to illnesses
Your work isn’t the only thing that suffers when you burn out; your body and mind can be affected just as much as your emotions can be.
I’d love to say there is a ‘magic bullet’ that will instantly take care of every problem… but that’s just not the case. Burnout is specific to every person, and that means everyone will have a different way to deal with it. There are a few universal truths we know about burnout, and a few things that seem to help in the low times:
- Recognize There’s a Problem. Most of the time, myself included, I try to rationalize what’s going on. “Oh, it’s only a bad day”, I tell myself. In reality, it’s one bad day that’s the last in a series of bad days. Knowing there is a pattern, and knowing something is wrong, is one of the first ways to solving the problem.
- Take Time Off. Most content creators will tell you that this is the one thing they struggle with the most. It’s a ‘norm’ to be 100% on, going, filming, editing, social-media posting, etc. In reality, it’s OK to have a break now and then. Some content creators like to take a “famine/feast” approach: they will record evergreen videos when they are feeling good so they have content to post when they need to take a break. If you can do that, it’s a good way to ‘schedule breaks’ for yourself. Just don’t overdo it trying to catch up. Work how you are most comfortable.
- Healthy Habits. Sleep, eating, and exercise – things a lot of content creators neglect. Yes, it’s easy to wolf down a cup-noodles while you’re cutting your latest stream-highlights. But would it benefit you better to step away from your computer and eat a better meal? Absolutely.
- Microbreaks. In moments of stress and feeling overwhelmed, it’s always a good idea to step back and let your mind process things. If you’re in the middle of a project, it’s OK to step away and let your mind wander. This is especially true if the stress is ‘problem-based’. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken a shower, a walk, or even just a bathroom break and my brain has worked out whatever problem I was having. Letting your mind ‘idle’ on problems can lead to less stress, and ultimately may help to decrease burnout.
- Secondary Activities. Speaking of a walk or shower, having a secondary activity that is unrelated to your ‘work’ can help you find meaning in other areas of life. Yoga, exercise, walking, reading; these are all exercises that help you with physical and mental wellbeing.
- Support Systems. If you have friends or colleagues to confide in, it’s always OK to tell someone you’re having troubles. A support system – even if it’s just for a few encouraging words – goes a long way to keep motivation high. People can also help you remember why you’re doing what you do. If you don’t have close friends you can talk to, consider an online therapy service like Talkspace,
Have you ever felt burnout in your work or content creation? Do you have any other ways for handling burnout? Sound off below, tweet @thatmitchcanter, and let’s talk about it!