As little content creating bunnies our lives consist of creating and consuming content, so it is no surprise we are susceptible to a bit of burnout.
It is hard to switch off when we feel the need to stay on top of trends, check socials regularly and hunt for inspiration. Not to mention the work we pull in our regular 9-5.
It is easy to forget just how lucky we are to be in the jobs we have. It is pretty epic when you think about it.
We spoke to organisational psychologist Matt Dale from Incorporate Psychology and physiotherapist and personal trainer Alex Mackay from Ironside Sport and Physiotherapy and put together five tips to avoiding the approaching burnout.
“Individuals who work in a fast paced, deadline-focused profession, such as content creators are quite often susceptible to stress and burnout. There is a never-ending race against the clock for outputs and quality deliverables that can often times put content creators under real duress. For people in these roles and similar professions it is imperative that they are able to spot the early indicators of stress and burnout and more importantly have the adequate tools to manage these signs and avoid the damaging effects of stress and burnout.” Matt says.
So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, emotionally drained, or just outright exhausted try these five tips to avoid the approaching burnout.
Probably the most obvious, and the most ignored tip on this list.
Chances are you’ve been lectured on the importance of switching off at least once, but it just doesn’t feel that easy. Our jobs can require our phones to be glued to our hands, and our eyes glued to screens.
“Easier said than done, particularly for those in the content creation space where channels need to be constantly monitored and engaged with,” Matt says.
“Being able to switch off or unwind is absolutely essential for people to ensure they maintain a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle,” he says.
A massive perk to content creation is you really can do it from anywhere. In the office? Done. In bed? Easy. From your beachside villa on a tropical island? We can make it work.
But with this perk also comes the downside that we really can work from anywhere – it can feel like we have no excuse to stop working.
It can be tempting to quickly check your emails, scroll through your clients Instagram feeds, or jot down that newly formed idea. While all these are important to ensure the smooth running of your normal hours it also limits your “me” time.
“We encourage all our clients to try and achieve a period of ‘quiet and disconnection’ at some time in their working week to not only recuperate and rest, but refresh their thinking and effectiveness,” Matt says.
“It’s often easier said than done, especially in the day and age of digital technology.”
Matt suggests you:
- Quarantine your personal time. Set clear boundaries around personal time and work time. Put your phone and laptop away at an agreed time and avoid logging on or answering calls.
- Create a tech-free zone. In the content creation space this is even more important given the nature of our work. Be disciplined about it even if you have to go to extremes. “Put your phone in the boot, under your mattress, disconnect the battery if you have to,” Matt says. In his opinion, you can never truly switch off without this tip. While he warns it may be hard at first, the more you practise the habit the more empowering it feels.
- Embracing mindfulness. Matt says “this can be as simple as connecting with the here and now”. Some of his mindful techniques include “being aware of the sensations in your body, focusing on your breathing rhythms, take stock of your senses – what can you hear, smell, taste, touch. By simply turning down the noise around you and focusing in on these sensations becomes a really easy way to calm the mind and slow down.”
So put your phone down and back away slowly. We promise you can handle whatever happens outside of hours in the morning.
We all know the many benefits of exercise such as improved health, better sleep and more energy, but did you know that exercise can also help to prevent work burnout?
Exercise can be part of your allotted “me” time now you’ve mastered switching off.
As someone who treats about 60 workplace injuries a week, Alex Mackay is quick to recommend clients work fitness into their routines.
“The strong focus on ‘you can’t count it for exercise unless it’s in the gym getting sweaty for an hour’ is outdated. These days even 20 minutes of HIIT (high intensity interval training) or a half hour walk outdoors is all you need to refocus and get an endorphin rush,” Alex says.
“When you think of exercise as a chore you miss out on one of its greatest assists, me time.”
Alex also thinks it is important not to forget that even if you don’t have a chance to get to the gym just some stretching at home or work releases feel-good chemicals.
Matt agrees and recommends using your exercise time as a tactic to help you switch off.
“Get outside. There’s loads of research that talks to the power of fresh air and exercise in regenerating the mind and stimulating endorphins. Ensure you’re getting at least 20 minutes in every day to take a walk, sit in the sun, stroll to the bus or go for a lunchtime jog,” he says.
Move your body at whatever intensity you fancy and once you’re in the exercise routine you may even start enjoying yourself. We know, shock, horror.
I want a separation
If you’re working in content chances are you probably kind of like it. So create a separation between your work and personal content.
“We need to be practical here and identify what you feel is ‘work’ and what is ‘your down time’. If reading content causes you angst, triggers you to pick up your laptop and comment/like/share, or it causes you to feel like you ‘never escape work’, then the answer is right in front of you,” Matt says.
However, just because the content you are creating and consuming for work is leading you down the burnout track doesn’t mean you have to step away all together.
Matt says this is like “asking the sports marketing professional to avoid going to a footy match or the finance professional to avoid the AFR. The reality is contemporary roles, particularly in digital media, blur the lines between our out-of-office passions and interests at times”.
“Pick up something else that you enjoy doing in your downtime. Try reading a book, a magazine, digest a different form of content than what you immerse yourself in each day,” Matt says.
Bonus! Chances are the content you are consuming for yourself will inspire you in the content you’re creating for work. It’s a win-win really.
Hang in the balance
Whether you need to sort out your work-life balance or simply need to learn the word no, balance is key.
Sometimes doing your job better means not doing your job at all.
“There is certainly room for improvement in the way workplaces implement work-life balance programs, however innovative workplaces understand the importance of juggling the demands of both and their engagement and retention rates speak for themselves,” Matt says.
“Successful organisations prioritise the wellbeing of their people ahead of business realities, and in turn reap the rewards of engaged and motivated staff.”
Don’t feel guilty for leaving the office on time, using your holiday days, saying no to a task when you’re feeling overcommitted, or asking for flexible work hours so you can do the things you love.
“Ways that employers can commit to delivering on this balance include mandatory time in lieu when overtime or after hours work is completed, quarterly mental health days (for personal administration or self-care), implementing team days out of the office to celebrate milestones, achievements or just simple thank-yous to their staff, reward and recognition programs, EAP Programs (providing access to qualified, free mental health programs for staff and their families),” Matt says.
Ultimately if you follow through with enforcing your balance you’ll produce better work when you are actually on the clock.
Loving your job too much
“There is no doubt that finding a job that you absolutely love, and working with great people can help in managing stress and burnout – but by no means does this make you immune to burning out,” Matt says.
He says that sometimes a great culture can often mask the effects of stress and burnout. “You love what you do so much you don’t switch off … you live and breathe your role and colleagues become friends and work becomes life.
“It certainly helps to be in a role where you feel respected, valued and one you enjoy; but it is also important for employers to recognise that their people need their own space and time with family and friends to become a more rounded and ‘well’ being.
“Employers can find the balance by ensuring the workplaces they create are harmonious, respectful, with clear and realistic KPIs and expectations on their people. But also ensuring they feel they can remove themselves each day without guilt or pressure of feeling they are letting their team down.”
A good work environment – take note employers – will have you coming back to your desk time and time again.
At the end of the day if you are happy in your job and value your time to disconnect you’ll find the perfect medium.