This guide is a collaboration between Beacons and the Creators Guild of America, the official 501(c)(6) non profit organization that protects and promotes the interests of digital creators and provides access to cutting edge information about mental health, physical health, and emotional intelligence.
Mental health and social media: it’s complicated.
There are so many benefits that come from being an entrepreneur on social media—like building a community around your creative work and having the ability to monetize your content. But for many creators who have a passion-project-turned-career, there are unique pressures that also come with the territory.
One common pattern among high-achieving creators is a feeling of burnout. When your entire business relies on your creative energy and execution, you might start to feel an obligation to be creating content 24/7. Without the structure that comes with a typical 9-5 job, you might not feel like you have the luxury to “wait until Monday.”
Both teams at Beacons and the Creators Guild of America have seen this challenge for creators. We want to help creators take control of their mental health so they can continue doing the creative work they love. It can be hard to find the right resources, so consider this a cheat sheet where you’ll learn:
- What factors lead to creator burnout
- How burnout affects creators
- What to do if you’re feeling burned out
- How to proactively take care of your mental health as a creator
We’ll also share additional resources where you can learn more about preventing burnout and finding a supportive community.
What causes burnout for creators?
There are two sides to every coin.
In 2023, there are estimated to be around 4.89 billion social media users worldwide and total spend on social media advertising is predicted to reach $268 billion. That’s a huge potential opportunity for enterprising creators!
But with the opportunity to engage an audience and build a business around social media comes the pressure of a world that demands more content. The average social media consumer uses seven social media platforms per month, and internet users spend an average of 2.5 hours on social media per day. There is a voracious demand on UGC platforms like Instagram, TikTok and YouTube for content that informs and entertains.
As the creator economy evolves, there are other factors that lead to a higher rate of creator burnout:
- Creators feel like they need to be “on call” for their fans.
- Creators feel a pressure to put their life on display at all times with little opportunity for privacy or less-than-perfect moments.
- Platform and algorithm changes are difficult to keep up with. There is a lack of clarity from the platforms about when updates happen (usually, they happen regularly and without public announcements).
- There is a fear of losing followers and making less money when content creation is a livelihood.
- There is often no steady salary and payments can be lumpy and inconsistent. Many creators rely on external brand partnerships (and potentially ad revenue if your following is big enough).
- There can be a culture of comparison online between creators and even between fans and the creators they follow.
- Most creators don’t have traditional coworkers, managers, or other teammates to support them they way you would in a traditional job. This can make the work feel extremely lonely.
On top of this, minority creators (such as those who identify as Black, Latino, and/or LGTBQIA+) have often been overlooked by traditional mental health practices and can face additional challenges of having their content appropriated or shadow-banned, which adds even more stress and frustration.
Maybe some of these pressures resonate with you. Does that mean you’re feeling burned out?
How does burnout affect creators?
Burnout can manifest for creators in a multitude of different ways, and every person’s experience will be unique. It might look like:
- A lost sense of purpose
- Disconnection from loved ones
Some people might experience physical symptoms like:
- Stomach issues
If you zoom out, these symptoms of burnout can mean that you find yourself arguing or withdrawing in your personal relationships, not feeling inspired to create content (or even actively dreading it), generally having low energy and feeling physically uncomfortable.
Sometimes symptoms are hard to name. If you’re not feeling like yourself but can’t quite put your finger on what’s wrong, take a closer look. Talk to someone you trust—this could be a friend, family member, fellow creator, or mental health professional—about how you’re feeling if you can tell that something is off. These feelings can build over time and usually don’t strike overnight.
If you think you’re experiencing creator burnout, does that mean you need to stop being a content creator? No, it doesn’t—but you do need to take care of yourself with a few key steps.
What to do if you’re feeling burned out
No one wants to be told to stop doing what they love. If you’re feeling burned out, it’s not the nail in the coffin of your creator career.
In fact, it’s actually extremely common. 61% of creators report facing burnout. If you are feeling this way, you are not alone.
Together, creators can build strategies for coping with burnout and supporting one another as they continue pursuing their passions. Here’s how.
Take a break (yes, a break!)
It feels counterintuitive, but if you’re stressed about the need to create content 24/7, prove to yourself that it’s okay to not be a human content factory that is always running.
CGA Head of Community Mitchell Crawford said it best—”sometimes you need to be a loaf of bread.” What? Well, bread rises when you let it rest. Sometimes you truly need rest in order to renew your inspiration and energy. This period of rest might be when you get your next great idea.
Connect with a community
There is so much power in finding people who understand you! As much as other family and friends love and support you in other ways, they might not directly relate to the pressures you feel around content creation.
Talking with other creators about how they cope with burnout (or just venting about how you’re feeling) can help you feel supported and lessen your feelings of loneliness. This is one of CGA’s founding principles, and something we’re most excited about bringing to creators through our community.
Be transparent with your followers
Your followers care about you. It’s okay to share your authentic experience and even be vulnerable with fans. Everyone can relate to feeling pressure and having bad days. Supportive comments from followers can remind you of the value of the community you have built.
And who knows—something you say might resonate with someone else and make them feel less alone.
Try to get into a routine
Wake up. Make your bed. Make breakfast. Go for a short walk. It doesn’t have to be anything groundbreaking. Having a short (and realistic) routine that you commit to each day goes a long way towards creating a sense of stability and can help you get back on track to feeling like yourself.
Staying active is another way of improving your mood—whether it's going for a run, going to the gym, or participating in group sports. Getting your body moving and increasing dopamine is a crucial habit.
According to the University of Berkeley, when you exercise you provide a low-dose jolt to the brain's reward center—the system of the brain that helps you anticipate pleasure, feel motivated, and maintain hope. Over time, regular exercise remodels the reward system, leading to higher circulating levels of dopamine and more available dopamine receptors ultimately improving your mood through consistency.
Seek professional help when you need to
You don’t have to do it alone. Seek help from a mental health professional when you need it. You can also rely on resources like Real, an app created by therapists for creators with tools on managing everyday mental health needs in an accessible way.
How to proactively take care of your mental health
Like all aspects of physical and mental health, prevention is better than cure. And while your feelings are sometimes out of your control (it is never YOUR fault for feeling burnout), there are many smart ways that creators can set themselves up to build a sustainable content business.
Try content batching
The idea of taking breaks regularly might feel unattainable. But it’s actually possible to do this by creating a reserve of content ahead of time, or “content batching.” Create a timetable where you make content for a certain number of weeks or months at a time, and then schedule in a break during which you can post some of the content you’ve stored up, without actually needing to film anything new.
You can also do this by setting specific days during the week when you create content and specific days when you “have off.” Aim to create a little more content on your working days so that you don’t feel the need to make anything last minute and you can actually get the rest you need.
Create a schedule with realistic goals
Of course, going viral overnight is the dream, but most goals take consistent steady work to reach them. Have the mentality of a marathon, not a sprint, and set yourself realistic weekly and monthly goals accordingly.
When you’re planning out your day, use these hacks:
- Do the hardest task when you have the most energy
- Save mindless tasks for when you have lower energy so you can get easy wins without thinking too hard
- Start the day with “low dopamine” activities right when you wake up, like making the bed or doing quick household chores
- Try task batching to avoid context switching and be as productive as possible during your dedicated working hours
Automate tasks where you can
It's important to choose the right tools to help you create and manage your content business, especially when you're a serious creator trying to grow a business.
Find tools that can automate manual work for you—for example, a media kit that automatically updates or a email marketing platform with an automatic welcome email for new subscribers. Getting small tasks off your plate frees you up for more creative work.
On Beacons, all of the tools you need to run your business are not only consolidated together in one platform, they are connected to allow for smart automations that save you time and work. That means you don't need to have ten tabs open or try to figure out how to string together different random tools on your own. Reducing the administrative overhead and complication can go a long way towards cutting down frustration you feel about the day to day operations that come with running your creator business.
Take care of your physical health
At the risk of sounding trite, physical health has a huge impact on your mental health. So, yes, everything in moderation, but make sure you’re eating food that makes you feel energized, staying hydrated, and getting in a good sweat a few days a week.
If going to the gym feels intimidating, start with something that feels manageable and fun. Find one physical activity that you like (maybe it’s going for a walk, playing tennis, or rock climbing) and commit to doing it once a week with a friend.
More mental health resources for creators
Learn more about the symptoms of burnout, the options available, and the tools other creators use to take care of their mental health. Want more resources? Check these out!
- Creators Guild of America: The official 501(c)(6) non profit organization that protects and promotes the interests of digital creators, and provides access to cutting edge information about mental health, physical health, and emotional intelligence. Apply here to become a member or join as a Friend of the CGA today!
- Real: An app created by therapists for creators with tools on managing everyday mental health needs in an accessible way.
- Born This Way Foundation: A foundation co-founded and led by Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, that supports the mental health of young people and works with them to build a kinder and braver world.
- I Don’t Mind: A nonprofit with a mission to inspire open conversations about mental health and to provide free resources, education, and encouragement for anyone who needs it. They’re always looking for creators of all backgrounds for their Creator Ensemble.
- Crisis Text Line: A text-based support platform that gives you an immediate response if you’re in an urgent situation and need someone to talk to. Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the United States, anytime, and a live, trained Crisis Counselor receives the text and responds. The volunteer Crisis Counselor will help you move from a hot moment to a cool moment.
- Pace Groups: An organization that hosts live, small-group video therapy sessions with licensed providers. They have a huge schedule that accommodates many topics and time frames.
- CreatorMentalHealth.com: A website that maintains the largest list of mental health resources for creators on the internet.