Blogger burnout is not a malady to be taken lightly. For those who are afflicted with it, it can be a really serious health issue. The problem is that it takes bloggers a long time to acknowledge the symptoms of it, or to realize they are in the thick of a state they should be concerned about. It’s often explained away as “not getting ideas”, “finding it all boring” or “seeing no money and getting frustrated”. Blogger burnout is not just one of these possibilities. It is a cumulation of all such symptoms, manifesting day after day, and cutting down your productivity to almost zero, that should ring alarm bells in your mind.
A lot of people enter into Content Marketing & Blogging every day. But only a few of them become successful and continue on the blogging journey. A big part of this blogging community (often in their first year or two of blogging) stop blogging after a short period of time. Having unrealistic expectations from blogging, and therefore feeling compelled to handle unreasonable workloads, are often the reasons why your engines of creation may ultimately grind to a halt. We’ve put together some first-aid tips here. These are not your long-term life changes (which you must make) – but some immediate relief you can give yourself, as you must!
Blogger burnout is like any other psychological burnout – take it seriously!
There is a beautiful article on this whole topic of burnout by one of the leading psychology experts Sherrie Bourg Carter (Psy.D.) titled “The Tell Tale Signs of Burnout … Do You Have Them?”. Here’s a key snippet from her article. Every blogger needs to know that the signs and symptoms of burnout are the same, whether you’re over-blogging or overdoing anything in life.
Burnout is one of those road hazards in life that high-achievers really should keep a close eye out for, but sadly – often because of their “I can do everything” personalities – they rarely see it coming.
Because high-achievers are often so passionate about what they do, they tend to ignore the fact that they’re working exceptionally long hours, taking on exceedingly heavy workloads, and putting enormous pressure on themselves to excel – all of which make them ripe for burnout.
What is burnout? Burnout is a state of chronic stress that leads to:
- Physical and emotional exhaustion
- Cynicism and detachment
- Feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment
When in the throes of full-fledged burnout, you are no longer able to function effectively on a personal or professional level. However, burnout doesn’t happen suddenly. You don’t wake up one morning and all of the sudden “have burnout.”
Its nature is much more insidious, creeping up on us over time like a slow leak, which makes it much harder to recognize. Still, our bodies and minds do give us warnings, and if you know what to look for, you can recognize it before it’s too late.
If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, this should be a wake-up call that you may be on a dangerous path. Take some time to honestly assess the amount of stress in your life and find ways to reduce it before it’s too late.
Burnout isn’t like the flu; it doesn’t go away after a few weeks unless you make some changes in your life. And as hard as that may seem, it’s the smartest thing to do because making a few little changes now will keep you in the race with a lot of gas to get you across the finish line.”
This is advice from an expert who knows a thing or two about the typical behaviors of those who set over-ambitious goals and then beat themselves to live up to a totally illogical image of themselves. Don’t just skim over this advice, take it in.
What can you do if you start feeling the three types of symptoms that Dr. Sherrie Bourg talks about? We have some tips for you below …
2 things you can do to respect that fact that you have blogger burnout – acknowledge reality!
Recognize the signs and respect them.
There’s a difference between “feeling the blues” about work, and actually beginning to feel a sense of “purposelessness”. Many bloggers don’t hear the alert sounds when they first begin to feel the “pointlessness” in the blogging they do. Beyond the physical fatigue, the mind starts feeling apathy, disenchantment, detachment, and withdrawal from blogging – sometimes even from life.
If problems you face are physical there are probably things you can do to revive energy. But if the mind begins to detach and feel numb, you absolutely cannot ignore the signals. Nor can you beat the mind further to tell you why it feels this way!
When a sense of “I can’t connect with this anymore!” sets in about your blogging, it’s not the best time to be doing deep psycho-analysis, or to ask your mind searching questions like: “Why are you feeling this way? What would you like changed?” More and more mind-searching for answers doesn’t help, because what you need is first-aid for a mind that’s stopped thinking.
When you feel your mind getting disconnected from your work, when it is spacing out and refusing to go on, say to yourself: “Enough, I need help, not reasons. I can’t go on torturing myself, knowing that my mind is not in a state to co-operate.”
Recognize definite burnout signals when the mind disengages from your work – and respect those signals. The mind always tells the truth.
Realize your limitations and try to avoid them.
In the midst of having a blogger burnout, there may be things you find you absolutely cannot do – while there are other things that you can do that seem to give some relief.
Many bloggers say that when their minds refuse to work, they’d rather not lie in bed. They’d rather be whiling away time doing mundane mindless activity – like walking in the park, thinking of nothing … or cleaning out a closet …or maybe doing some cooking. There seems to be relief in doing activities by rote, rather than by merely sinking into a mattress.
By all means, try to do those things that bring relief. The answer to mental tiredness is often in physical action, just as the answer to physical exhaustion is often found in sitting down to introspect.
The moral of the story here is to not stop everything, because the mind-body complex is built such that the body helps the mind and the mind helps the body. So realize that when the mind wants to switch off, there are actions that can be done lightly and mindlessly that give immense relief, and get the blood flowing, even when the mindwaves are not working.
Locate the actions you can take without using the mind, and do them to keep your circulation going. It’s important to keep moving, even if it’s in a mind-detached way.
2 more things you can do to stop exacerbating the burnout – learn how to stop the self-torture!
Say “no more” quickly – don’t wait to see if things get worse.
Since all bloggers enter into an online business to succeed, we put immense pressure on ourselves to see signs of success as fast as possible. Some times we are aware of the pressure we put on ourselves – it stares at us as a schedule or a time-table to get some work-lot done, come what may.
Sometimes, we aren’t even aware we are pressuring ourselves. But we can tell the signs when we see ourselves feverishly scouring the Net for articles like “How long does blogging take to work?”, or “How many blog posts do I need to write per day?”, or “What is Neil Patel’s daily schedule?”
The secret to helping yourself through a blogger burnout is to say “No more!” to any type of self-pressure. Don’t think that cutting down your blogging, to read more articles on “easier blogging”, will help. You need to cut away from all overt and covert forms of self-flagellation.
Reading that one more article, or watching that one more tutorial video, or buying that one more book on Amazon that says “Ways to beat the procrastination” are all cop-outs. You have to face the truth early enough to know you are stealthily punishing yourself in this way.
Procrastination is a symptom, not a problem. There’s always an underlying reason why it happens, but again going into the analysis of those reasons, at this time of burnout, doesn’t help. It only adds to the burden of personal guilt.
So quit chastizing yourself by looking at what others have to say about their way around obstacles. Stop the success-chasing game right here and now, and let those “knowledgeable others” get out of your life. Do this early. Don’t wait to see if more knowledge from them can help rev your mind up. It won’t.
Take a break from blogging – the world will not end if you do.
Let me tell you something I learnt from a blogger who makes a lot of money – in fact, so much money that I was tempted to write to him and ask if he would teach me his method. He replied by saying that he could not afford to teach me what I wanted to know because he would feel like a fraud for charging fees for what he had to say.
Needless to say, I was intrigued so I egged him to tell me anyhow. What he told me – his secret to successful blogging – was a revelation.
He had started a blog with a great deal of earnestness and in the first six months he blogged a lot on his niche topic – he kept up a schedule of one big fat blog post every day. Soon he had about 150-180 posts in about 6 months, but then blogger burnout set in and he found he could write no more – so he shut down his blogging.
He was in fact tempted to shut down his site and not incur the monthly hosting costs any more – but he was so tired, he says, he never got around to doing that. But he closed the email address associated with his site because he couldn’t bear to see more mails on a subject he had shut his mind from. He took rest for nearly a year, working on his health, and then got a regular day job and forgot his blog and his site.
Then one day it struck him to close down his site, since he now had a job, and while he was about to do so, he was aghast to find his blog had been getting close to 10,500 visitors per month, many of whom had even signed up to his mailing list for his free downloadable ebook … and he never even sent them any newsletters in all this time. He had even earned about $3500 in affiliate income which he hadn’t claimed. People had been dropping by his site, reading his stuff, signing up for his list, buying affiliate products – and they were still doing so in monthly five digit traffic that was growing every month!
He had to see how it happened … till an SEO expert explained to him what may have occurred. The expert told him that Google takes about 6-8 months to figure out how high to rank you on their scale of blogs to list on their SERPs for any keyword. So even if you do nothing, and just leave Google to do its experimentation with where you fit in their scheme of things, the world won’t stop if you stop blogging. In fact, over time you will only gain!
So much then for those who think stopping blogging, and taking a break, will break their business. The truth is that if you’ve given your website enough traction by blogging steadily for a few months, and you’ve been blogging “on-topic” (without straying from your niche topic), Google will take its time putting you up and down on its SERPs till it finds out where you exactly fit.
Looking around, this blogger with the burnout then saw how some other bloggers were earning hand-over-fist with niche sites they started. They’d work on them furiously for 6 months, and then move away, letting Google do its thing, while they built other new niche sites. The niche sites they had built over two or three years ago and “abandoned” (so to speak) were still paying them endlessly!
Moral? If you’re having a burnout, stop blogging by all means. Feel blissful that Google never stops, though. That’s life’s blessing!
2 final things you can do to respect that you are human – and you need TLC and a circle of help!
Look after your body – that needs repair and restoration first.
Blogger burnout is never ever just a mind-afflicting issue, it takes its toll of your body too. Your mind controls the functioning of your body, so when the mind gets fatigued or slows down its activity, to cope with the stress it’s been through, everything in your body slows down. Your appetite, your energy levels, your inclination to put the body to use at some work … it all goes down several notches.
There’s nothing better for the body than some good rest. Preferably some deep rest. Activities like yoga (that call for deep breathing) and meditation (that can quieten the mind) are excellent habits to begin at a time like this.
Sometimes, the body and mind creaking to a halt are like a gift They put you in touch with your real self (not the electronic self), and show you what’s important in life. They also show you lots of new things you can begin in your life, that are good habits to replace the bad ones you had fallen into.
Your mind and body need loads of TLC after a burnout, so make sure you give them that. Eat good healthy food, drink plenty of fluids to remove all the toxins from your system, cleanse the body of impurities with a fiber-rich diet, and get sunshine and fresh air as often as you can.
Eat freshly cooked food, preferably real food that doesn’t come in cans and bottles. Cook it yourself, because it’s said that imbibing the aromas and the look of freshly cooking food is almost as healthy as eating it.
Learn to breathe deep. It’s something that’s easy to forget to do when you’re hunched over a computer and your mind is whirring with the tensions of getting your blogging for the day done.
Ancient wisdom in India (where I come from) says that our longevity is actually counted in number of breaths, and not in days or months or years. So if your breathing is shallow you’ll expend your lifetime faster. If you breathe deep and long for each breath you take, you’ve live longer.
Have a good circle of friends, and preferably those that are not just available online. One-to-one contact with real people can be invigorating. Have a good laugh with friends, chat about everything except work, spend time with family, spend time frolicking with pets, or get to meet or see new people when you do errands for your daily living.
Don’t cocoon yourself with a computer and a smartphone, and order everything via home-delivery. Get out and about and rediscover the joys of real life outside of a laptop computer.
Also, discover that real life can be enjoyed without spending too much money. If you don’t buy so much, you won’t feel the pressure to earn more than that. Pare your needs down, declutter your home, and discover that less is more.
If you do all this, you’ll feel much much better in a day or two, from sheer relief … but don’t go back to the blogging in a hurry. Let the old habits die with disuse till a new life of health, exercise, fun and laughter (and a better life-work balance) can take over.
When you feel like your life has transformed around a new set of priorities that begin with caring for your health, go back to the earning of wealth.
Your burnout phase should have taught you that the pursuit of wealth can never happen without care for health. That’s what life gives us burnouts for.
If stopping work adds to anxiety – allow yourself to outsource work.
There are some among us, solopreneur bloggers, who are solo-artists not just because we prefer our own company, but because we don’t think someone else can do as perfect a job as we want to do. We are against the idea of outsourcing for two or three reasons:
- One, we are fastidious about our own notions of perfectionism, and are never satisfied with the work of others on our behalf.
- Two, we don’t like the idea of getting work out of others, because that feels harder to do than finishing it all ourselves.
- Three, we may be shoestring entrepreneurs, and not have the budget to outsource good quality hires who need less shepherding.
The ideal thing to do when you have a burnout is not to force yourself to deal with these other issues you have in outsourcing help – like perfectionism, people management or budgetary constraints. Get outsource help if the anxiety of not blogging is more than the anxieties of other such issues you have with outsourcing. If however, you have the wherewithal and the flexibility in you to tolerate hiring outsource help, try it out and see if it helps.
Make it known to the person you are hiring that this is a trial, and you’ll continue with the arrangement only if it suits. Who knows, you may get along with the other person fabulously and discover your fears or resistance were more in your head than real.
If outsourcing work doesn’t suit your personality or adds to your already high blood pressure levels, it’s not worth it. Let go of the blogging, as we said earlier, safe in the knowledge that the Internet won’t hang up if you’re not adding your two-bits to it every day.
A famous quote I remember goes like this: “There are only two kinds of anxieties in life: one is how to to get what you need; and two is how to get what you think you need because of greed.” I can’t quite remember who wrote it but I give copious credit to the person who did. Most of the blogger burnout we see around us seems to come from the second kind of need, which is actually greed masquerading as a need, wouldn’t you say?
So what are your thoughts on this topic? Do share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of content-marketer solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
Other articles in our series “Content Marketing & Blogging”:
- Blogging Goals: One Goal You Must Set, And Four Goals You Must Avoid!
- Need Interesting Blog Topics? 6 Clever Ways To Get Loads Of Ideas!