Working in social media can have a significant impact on your mental health. Over the last five years, I’ve heard more social media managers mention burnout, anxiety, and depression in conjunction with their jobs than ever before. I’ve felt it, too.
While we can’t always mitigate the bad stuff in social media, we can take steps to protect ourselves from social media’s impact on our mental health.
Friends, you are not the channels you run or the brand(s) you work with. If you feel like what is happening to (or on) your social channels is happening to you, not a separate entity, it is time to work on detachment. This is especially important if you are a one-person social team. It may feel like your channels are “yours,” but the brand you work for includes many people you have no control over⏤yet their behavior can impact your work. Reminding yourself that you are not your channels can go a long way to helping mitigate the stress of managing social.
Set boundaries with your employer or your client on when you will access social channels and follow through on them. You will need to advocate for your boundaries with your clients or employers, but you also need to hold yourself accountable. Logging in after-hours “just to check” or answering on vacation not only breaks your boundaries for yourself⏤it signals to the people that you work with that breaking your boundaries is just fine. Constantly working, even if you tell yourself, “I’m already on anyway!” is a road to burnout.
When you get off your devices, root yourself in the physical world. This could be getting into nature, working out, dancing, making something with your hands, reading a book (and not on your tablet where you can get notifications!), or making art. You get double bonus points if you do this and DO NOT post about it!
Find a good therapist and use them. While not all therapists understand social media, they can still recognize toxic situations or boundary issues. My therapist (who is 20 years older than the target demographic for most social channels) was the first to help me see I needed to cultivate a sense of detachment with the social channels I ran.
Those who don’t do social for a living tend to either not understand it OR think it’s all fun and games. We love our non-SMM friends, but it helps to cultivate friendships with other social media managers. These people can share your frustrations, understand what you are going through, and point you to possible solutions for your problems. (Bonus points if you do something together that isn’t online!)
It may seem like these are just more things to pile on your ever-growing pile of responsibilities. If you feel overwhelmed just looking at this list, pick one thing (“Get Physical” is usually the easiest to adopt) and start small. You can’t fight burnout and overwhelm with more burnout and overwhelm, but even being aware of ways to help yourself can give you hope that things can get better.
Corrie Oberdin @corrie
Freelance social media/content dev for nonprofits & also love to helping small businesses market themselves sustainably.