How do you unplug when being plugged in is your job?
Many people experience social media burnout and workplace fatigue at some point. However, this can be especially tricky for social media managers, digital marketers, web designers and all of us who make a living online.
What is social media burnout?
Defined as “occupational burnout”, social media burnout is “A syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
Successfully managed sounds so straightforward. As if it’s simply a matter of organization and meditation sessions. Well, it kind of is… However more than this, we as a society often struggle with the reality that mental health and social media are linked. There is a fair amount of stigma around both these topics, so combining the two can be a lot for people to tackle.
In a study by West Virginia University, stressors unique to social media burnout include:
- Unmanageable workload
- Unclear job expectations
- Stigma associated with social media
- Lack of support from leadership
- Limited autonomy or control
- Negative workplace environment
- Work-life imbalance
And of course, we must mention how burnout can be compounded by systemic and social inequalities such as gender, race, age, and disability discrimination.
According to the World Health Organization, burnout symptoms include:
- Energy depletion or exhaustion
- Job dissatisfaction
- Negativity or cynicism related to work
- Inability to fulfill responsibilities
Below find some tips to help begin the conversation with yourself and your colleagues. This is not a topic which we can afford to ignore.
8 tips to avoid (or deal with) social media burnout
1. Assess your boundaries and expectations
Social media may be “always on,” but that doesn’t mean YOU have to be.
Setting firm boundaries around work hours and clear expectations with both yourself and co-workers is a desperately important step.
This IS possible! Even while working remote. You can try website blockers or internet restriction apps. Also, most smart phones have some kind of “sleep” mode which you can set to begin automatically at the same time very day. Another solution can be separate phones, one for work and one for personal use.
Don’t be afraid to set healthy boundaries. For the most part your coworkers will respect what you are trying to do and maybe even implement these ideals for themselves. You deserve to have balance in your life!
2. Work smart
Across the globe, the pandemic has pushed people to put in more work and staying at home has taken away the option to “leave work at work”. For many working from home, it has been hard not to blur lines between work life and personal life. This is of course, is a fast track to burnout.
Try to implement tactics that make you more efficient.
The Pomodoro method can be helpful: setting a timer for 25-minutes of focused work, interspersed with five-minute palate cleanses.
Dividing your day and tasks into segments of time blocking is another effective productivity technique. Knowing you have to work two hours then get a break before doing another two can be an excellent incentive to stay on track without feeling buried in endless work.
4. Recognize the red flags
The sooner you learn how to spot the signs, the better you can equip yourself for when the downward spiral beckons.
You can start with questions like these:
- Do you feel negative or cynical at work?
- Do you lack energy and motivation on the job?
- Do you find it hard to concentrate?
- Do you lack professional satisfaction?
- Have you become more isolated?
- Have your sleep habits changed?
- Are you finding less joy in activities which in the past brought you happiness?
Be honest with yourself and take your answers seriously. If taking a walk or other coping mechanisms don’t seem like viable solutions, it’s time to ask for help.
5. Ask for help
No one should have to tackle management, systemic, or mental health issues alone.
When the workload starts to get too heavy, remind yourself there is no shame in asking for and accepting help. Whether that’s hiring someone new to take on some of the work load, or asking a trusted friend or family member to hold you accountable to better boundaries. Let your managers know when you find things difficult. Tell the truth about how you are doing. Don’t keep pushing yourself when you sense that burnout is looming.
Normalize asking for help and asking for people to share the mental load. Establish check-ins. Take mental health days. See if you can incorporate therapy into workplace health benefits. Build a support network. Seek professional help.
6. Ask your work-place to prioritize mental health
Part of normalizing mental health days is discussion and built-in protocols for when someone needs one. Having a good system in place for these days is how we begin to ensure shame-free checking-out. And no one really restores their mental health when they feel shamed for needing to. Access your work environment. If it is not a place which would allow for mental health prioritization, then perhaps it is time to consider a job change?
7. Maintain healthy habits
While everyone’s personal mental health maintenance is unique to them, here are a few jumping off points:
- Protect your eye health (many eye-glass business’s offer blue-light blocking lenses.)
- Take regular breaks (again, consider time blocking.)
- Exercise (even a walk around the block at lunch is a significant step for one’s mental and physical well-being.)
- Meditate (5-10 minutes of breathing is all it takes to calm one’s nervous system and re-center one’s mind. There are a multitude of meditation apps to get you started!)
- Eat healthy meals, away from your desk. Read it again, AWAY from your desk.
- Keep your phone out of the bedroom (Alarm clocks are cute!)
- Get a full night’s sleep (Talk to your doc about options, if work stress if effecting your sleep!)
8. Make time to do what makes you happy
Finally, prioritize joy!
There is ample research proving that pursuing passions lowers stress and ups dopamine.
Studies also show that creative activities have positive impacts both on and off the job. Many of the world’s most creative and intelligent minds know that having a hobby or pursuit which brings them creative satisfaction and joy, is a powerful force for both happiness and success in work.
Hoping these tips are helpful in you beginning to see your mental health as deserving of attention!
Remember it is not weakness to admit when we are overwhelmed. It is wisdom.
Hadley Lowe | Marketing Assistant | Cross Dot Digital Creative + PR Agency | We are a quirky assortment of seasoned pros, up-and-comers, introverts, extroverts, cool kids, and nerds who love to use art, science, technology, and words to influence consumers into becoming raving fans. Reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org