Social media never sleeps. But humans certainly do! Keeping up with a 24-hour content cycle is impossible — and trying will negatively affect your content, not to mention your mental health, in the long term. Social media burnout is very real - just ask big-name creators like Elle Mills and El Rubius Gundersen, both of whom have been very open about their burnout-related stress and mental health struggles.
Social media burnout: Tips for avoiding it (with insights from creator @nameless.james)
Social media platforms like Instagram can be a draining place. Many entrepreneurs struggle to deal with the pressure to keep gaining followers, stay ahead of algorithmic changes, delight their followers, and navigate trolls and hate comments.
Perhaps that’s why burnout seems to be endemic in the creator community. A recent report from Vibely found that 90% of creators have experienced burnout, and 71% have considered leaving social media over it.
So if you’re stressed-out, you’re not alone. But with some self-love and patience, you can beat burnout — while building the creative career of your dreams.
Here are our 10 best burnout-busting strategies, featuring insights straight from @nameless.james, who juggles 150K followers on Instagram and over 800K on TikTok.
1. Look at the big picture
Burnout can make the creative work you love feel like a chore. If you’re at the end of your rope and losing enthusiasm for your work, take a step back.
Why did you choose this career in the first place? What do you love about Instagram, building a community, and creating content? At the end of the day, why are you here?
2. Stick to a schedule
You can’t work 24/7. A reasonable, predictable schedule is key to avoiding burnout and staying positive, engaged, and inspired on your creative journey.
Choose what time you’ll start and end work every day, and always designate days to be completely off work.
It’s an important strategy for @nameless.james, a creator with 150K followers on Instagram and 800K+ on TikTok.
He tells us: “Look at your week, or next couple of weeks, and know what you want to get out of it,” he suggests. “Whether that’s one video a day, some static posts for Instagram, or whatever it is, know what you want to do, and schedule it out yourself. If you know, for example, that Wednesday is busy, create 2 videos on Monday so that on Wednesday, you don’t need to think about it.”
Even if you choose to be flexible about this schedule, it will give you a solid foundation for a sustainable, rewarding creative career.
3. Batch create content
It’s not realistic to think you can create, edit, and share a new piece of content every single day.
For greater efficiency, choose a time to batch-shoot a few new photos or videos, then schedule them to go out over the next few days. You can also batch out different steps of your creation process, such as writing all your captions or editing all your new Reels in a single work session.
Along with scheduling, batch-creation is an important strategy to @nameless.james make the best use of his time.
“Something I’ve run into is that I get done with my thing for the day and I have more time — I could make more content,” he explains. “Often if I don’t, later in the week comes and I’m tired, have nothing prepared, or don’t feel like creating, there are other things that are taking up my time. I end up forcing myself to make a video, and it doesn’t turn out like I wanted.”
By making the most of the time when he is feeling creative, @nameless.james is able to produce higher quality work, while also feeling less stressed and more present in other areas of his life.
4. Protect your account
As an Instagram creator, your business is heavily dependent on a single platform. That leaves you vulnerable to cyber-attackers and other security issues.
It’s a very real threat - on average, a creator gets hacked every 10 minutes in the US alone. And the mental toll is significant - lifestyle influencer What The Fab, for example, shared her experience getting hacked even with two factor authentication set up:
“The feeling of panic and nausea that swept over me when I received an email from the Instagram hackers telling me what had happened was so strong, that I thought I might pass out.” - @WTFab, 140K followers
Moral of the story? Alleviate much of this stress by insuring your account, just like any other revenue-generating asset or business.
Top creators like @nameless.james have insured their accounts with Notch, to make sure they have a financial safety net and an account retrieval team on standby if a hack ever takes place.
5. Quality over quantity
Consistency is important. But forcing yourself to pump out tons of mediocre content won’t help you reach your creative goals, either.
Instead, set yourself a reasonable content creation schedule, and stick to it. Focus on pacing yourself in a way that supports you in doing your best work, rather than creating as much content as humanly possible.
6. Put your health first
You can’t do good work if you’re not your best self. That’s why the building blocks of a healthy lifestyle — sleep, exercise, a healthy diet, and mental health practices — need to come first.
Make sure your healthy lifestyle includes plenty of time offline and away from your screen, whether that’s time with your loved ones or out in nature.
It’s a strategy that’s worked for @nameless.james. “If you’re not feeling like you’re in a creative mood, if it just feels like a chore to create something, take time, go for a walk, work out, or do something else,” he says. “It’s ok to even push it off to the next day!”
“If you’re not feeling like you’re in a creative mood, if it just feels like a chore to create something, take time, go for a walk, work out, or do something else" - @nameless.james, 1M followers
Working for yourself means you’re both boss and employee — so do great work, and treat yourself well!
7. Mix it up to get inspired
It’s hard to feel creative when you’re staring at the same four walls, doing exactly the same things, day in and day out.
That’s why changing this up can be one of the best ways to beat burnout and get excited about content creation again.
Try making a type of content that’s new to you, like vlogs or live streams. Or, break with routine by working from somewhere else. That could be as simple as visiting a new park or coffee shop, or as elaborate as taking an international trip and filming the whole time!
8. Get help
Burnout is a mental health issue. If you’re struggling, or if your stress levels are getting in the way of your (online or offline) life, it’s crucial to reach out to a therapist, counselor, or doctor.
Don’t be afraid to be open with family, friends, and other creators about your challenges too. The people in your life likely know how hard entrepreneurship is, and they want to support you! There are even support groups for creators in certain niches, like Black Girl Gamers and Rainbow Arcade.
9. You do you
There’s no sure-fire key to content success. But the key to failure, just like in other parts of life, is trying to please everybody.
This is part of what makes niching down so important. For longevity and a fulfilling career on Instagram, you must know what makes you special, and stay true to that.
@nameless.james has learned that lesson firsthand during his career as a creator. “The most important thing is just knowing yourself,” he says. If you’re forcing yourself to do something, it’s not going to turn out the way you want it.”
@wandertears is another creator who’s experienced what a trap online people-pleasing can be. “It doesn’t matter what you post, there will always be a keyboard bully out there,” she shares. “[But] their perception of you has no effect on reality. Do your best to let it go, and never let it hold you back from creating content.”
Instagram is a crowded, competitive platform, and the only way to stand out is to be your real, authentic self. Not everyone will like it — but that’s okay!
"There will always be a keyboard bully...their perception of you has no effect on reality. Do your best to let it go, and never let it hold you back from creating content" - @WanderTears, 120K followers
10. Delegate where you can
What parts of your process can be outsourced? Can you pay someone to edit your videos or filter and reply to DMs?
Don’t think of delegating as giving away your creative control or authenticity. Outsourcing is an important step for every business as it grows, so don’t fight it!
Mental health for content creators
Mental health is just as important as physical health, and content creators must prioritize them both in equal measure. These ten steps will help you on your way to building a healthy, successful career in content creation and social media - but if you find yourself struggling, do not hesitate to reach out to those around you for support.