Judging from the thousands of self-care TikTok influencers, Gen Zs are strongly in-tune with their mental health. The word burnout has become a staple in our collective vocabulary over the last few years, describing a state of mental and emotional exhaustion brought on by stress.
Beat the dreaded podcast creator burnout and continue doing what you love by incorporating self-care practices designed to boost your mental health. Start by adding these four tips to your creative process.
1. Create a schedule (and stick to it)
We know that your show is a labor of love, but developing a schedule is necessary for consistency, accountability, and stress reduction. Start by creating a podcast schedule that allows for time offline and self-care.
Disconnect at the end of the day
We know that staying up late planning next week’s episode or researching growth tactics is tempting, but it can quickly become overwhelming. Constantly thinking about your next steps keeps your brain running on the creative hamster wheel, and without taking a breather, it could make you feel burnt out. Disconnect at the end of the day by:
- Logging off and avoiding electronics for the evening
- Doing a relaxing, non-work-related activity
- Avoiding the bedtime scrolling cycle
Fully disconnecting when you’re in a good flow can be tough because you might be worried about losing inspiration and failing to accomplish your goals. Manage your podcast workflow with techniques like time-blocking that ensure the most pressing tasks of the day get done so you can kick back and relax afterward.
Divide your day into chunks of time (one to two hours) and assign a different task for each. For example, you might spend two hours editing in the morning, break for lunch, then spend another hour planning next week’s episode. What makes this method highly effective is that you’re free to change things around until you find your perfect rhythm.
Carve out time for self-care
Self-care needs to be a mental health priority in order to stay sane in the creator economy (as well as to be more productive). When you dedicate all your energy to creating new content, you often put self-care on the back burner, leading to burnout. Self-care acts, whether they come in the form of quick meditation breaks or long walks, reduce your stress levels and elevate happiness.
Not sure where to start? Try dedicating 10 minutes every few hours to:
- Journaling and self-reflection
- Breathwork and meditation
- Stretching and light movement
- A brain-boosting snack, like nuts or dark chocolate
As most classic psychology experiments have demonstrated, our brains are highly motivated by rewards. Two hours of work, followed by 10 minutes of self-care, can leave you feeling more creative and motivated to accomplish your goals.
2. Focus on the content, not the numbers
Growing an audience is at the top of every podcast creator’s to-do list, but an obsession with numbers can quickly snowball into a serious case of exhaustion. Refocus your attention on the quality of your content to break through the stress of seeing your subscriber count climb.
Rediscover the joy of creating
Have you ever heard the saying “happy hens lay more eggs?” The same applies to content creation, so focus on the process of making something you love rather than the analytics.
You might have already found your niche and community, but this might be a good time to rediscover your why. Why did you begin podcasting? Why did you choose this niche? What’s holding you back from pursuing other topics you’re interested in? A period of self-reflection will help you rediscover your purpose and recover the joy of creating.
Flex your creativity
If a creative block has you feeling stuck, uninspired, and stressed out, start thinking outside the box. Taking risks and trying something new can feel scary, especially when it comes to analytics, but it can also bring big rewards and amazing opportunities.
Start by going straight to the source and learning what your audience wants through interactive elements like questions into your episodes. Their insights might surprise you, pivoting your content in a new, creative direction. Fellow podcast creators are another great source of inspiration, so explore different genres to spark your imagination.
Inspire your listeners and learn from your peers
Storytelling is what makes podcasts a unique form of digital media, so channel your inner raconteur and open up to your listeners. Gen Zs are the biggest consumers of mental health podcasts worldwide, so there’s lots of potential for an attentive audience. Beyond that, talking through your feelings might lighten your mental and emotional load.
Connecting with your audience through personal storytelling will also boost your podcast’s sense of community and camaraderie. This concept can be seen time and time again on podcast platforms, where creators share their struggles and create community support systems. Teenager Therapy, a vulnerable and intimate look at the real-life emotions of teens, is a great example of this in action!
Another way to release some stress is to collaborate with other creators and use them as a sounding board for your feelings. Discussing mental health with someone who’s experiencing similar emotions will help you feel less alone and lead you to new coping strategies. Put this into practice by adding weekly or monthly mental health bonus episodes to your show and inviting other creators to share the stage.
3. Choose your battles wisely
Life in the public eye often comes with unwanted criticisms and people’s opinions are sometimes harsh. Learning to choose your battles is a crucial step in handling negative feedback (don’t worry, it happens to everyone).
Mute the haters
Even the most seasoned creators struggle with negative feedback. With that in mind, try to be gentle with yourself and ignore any unproductive commentary that comes your way.
If your audience calls you out for being insensitive, on the other hand, take it seriously. Hear what they’re saying, analyze your actions, and change your behavior, or you risk losing your audience and platform. But a DM telling you that your podcast sucks isn’t constructive and deserves an instant delete.
Keep your private life private
Take some dedicated time to reflect on your boundaries with sharing personal information with a public audience. Set those boundaries from the start and avoid the oversharing curse that plagues many content creators. Revealing personal information you’re not comfortable with sharing can happen in the moment and lead to regret and embarrassment, two feelings that often raise stress levels.
Before diving into the more highly personal content, decide what you’re comfortable with sharing. Pre-planning your episodes with podcast scripts and briefing guests on off-limits topics is essential to sharing only what you feel the most comfortable with.
4. Stress: feel, understand, and address
Repressing stressful emotions and wallowing in the negative ones are two of the least productive ways to deal with burnout because neither will bring you clarity or relief. Choose a happy medium instead.
Allow yourself to feel
Negative emotions may not be as enjoyable as their positive counterparts, but they’re valid and need to be felt in order to move past them. Avoid the downward spiral of running through the same feelings repeatedly by writing out your thoughts. Putting everything down on paper will help you gain a clear picture of how you’re feeling, allowing you to seek out the reason for these emotions.
Find the root cause
Now for the most important question—why am I feeling this way? Finding the root cause of your stress is the first step in coming up with a solution. It sounds counterintuitive after talking about feeling your emotions, but the key is to get analytical with data and causal factors.
Tune into your feelings and track your stress levels. Say you consistently feel stressed about recording episodes and the feeling compounds every week, leaving you burnt out. Now that you understand when you feel stressed, start looking at what causes the stress.
- Do you feel unprepared?
- Are you nervous about the topic?
- Is the idea of editing daunting?
- Do you feel like you’re putting out content that doesn’t excite you?
Asking these questions will give you clarity and direction for seeking out a solution.
Address the problem
Action can take many forms, from changing your habits to muting your inner self-critic, but it’s what ultimately helps you move past the stress and achieve a feeling of accomplishment. If you’ve gathered the data and realized that you dread the editing process, it’s time to upgrade your skills by taking some courses or trying a more user-friendly platform.
Not every problem has a simple solution, but taking baby steps toward change and addressing the source of the stress will keep you creating.
Beat burnout, prioritize self-care
Burnout can happen to anyone, but content creators deal with the added pressure of growing their community, sharing their personal life, and building a brand. Adding small acts of self-love throughout your day and practicing self-care can help keep podcast creator burnout at bay.