It’s not just bloggers who can suffer from online burnout, but I reckon working as we do – in a highly competitive online world – makes us more prone to it than many others. I’ve been blogging nearly six years now and, without fail, every single month my brain reaches a level of online saturation that just screams STOP. At times like these, blogging Zen feels very far away.
I always know I’m heading for an online burnout when I start to fall into the comparison syndrome trap. As soon as I start mulling over the number of “likes” another blogger has on an Instagram post, for example, it’s a sign I’m teetering on the brink of falling into a black hole of Pinterest-perfection sized proportions. I’ll question why my house isn’t as big or pretty as X’s or why my captions aren’t as funny as Y’s. Every question or negative thought is like a little pin-prick to my self-confidence until it all builds up into one big stab of frustration when, inevitably, I’ll feel an overwhelming urge to delete all my social media accounts and retrain as a teacher (or nurse, or – one particularly ridiculous month – as a policewoman).
It’s all incredibly dramatic and silly when you look at it written down in black and white, but I know from chatting to other bloggers that I’m not on my own with feeling this way. Blogging and working online is a funny old business, especially when you’re blogging about personal stuff like your family, kids or house. Needing a sense of validation through online love on a post is pathetic, but totally natural all the same. We all get that boost when someone’s commented on a post, and the more comments or interaction you get the more you seek it out – it’s addictive. But still, it’s important to remember that in the whole scheme of things it doesn’t really matter – not like climate change, world peace or the Strictly Come Dancing results, anyway.
Here are some of the things I do to get back to blogging Zen, when the burnout looms:
1. Have a social media detox
OK, so this isn’t always possible – especially if you’ve got paid commitments with a brand for online activity. But when I feel really worn out by working online there’s only one thing that will truly cure the burnout and that’s a complete detox.
Even if it’s just one day, taking time out from the internet gives me time to focus on real life and get things back into perspective. I’ll realise that yes, X might have a prettier kitchen than me but, actually, I’m a better writer. Or Y might be getting higher profile brand campaigns than me but, actually, she probably spends more time pitching than I do. Whatever my wobble, having time away from the internet will help me rationalise it and remember what my own particular edge is in the online world. It also helps me tune out what others are doing, which is massively important if you’re facing blogger block.
2. Enjoy a regular, mini social media detox
Sometimes a social media detox doesn’t have to be a full-on, delete-all-apps kind of detox. Sometimes a social media detox just means not going on Instagram for 24 hours, or ignoring Facebook all day on a Sunday. Whatever the form of detox, I think it’s healthy and needed. It’s so easy to think you need to be “plugged in” 24/7, that you’ll miss out on a blogging opportunity, or likes, or whatever, if you take some time out. But the truth is, people are probably too busy worrying what they’re doing to notice you’ve been quiet. And if they do notice then the chances are you’ll get even more interaction on your next post.
3. Don’t be afraid to unfollow
This might be controversial but, you know what? Life’s too short. If unfollowing someone on Instagram whose posts regularly make you feel crappy – however unintentional – is going to help you avoid online burnout or comparison syndrome, then do it. In the past, I’ve been so scared to unfollow people in case it was seen as an act of aggression or they thought I was mean, that I just didn’t do it. But the more people I followed the fewer I interacted with. My feeds were too noisy, the Instagram algorithm meant I always ended up having the same people’s posts in my face and it got to the point where it was either unfollow or turn off the internet. So I unfollowed.
4. Share how you feel
As loud and competitive and anxiety-ridden it can be, the blogging community can also be incredibly supportive. I have some lovely real life friends who also happen to be bloggers, and chatting with them about the things that irritate or worry me working online always helps. Often sharing that vulnerable side can make you realise you’re not alone with those feelings – which in itself can be incredibly comforting.
5. Take the pressure off
As well as this blog, I run the interiors site Roost, write for various magazines and websites and create videos for my budding YouTube channel. Sometimes I feel like I’m stretched too thin but ultimately, for me, having that variety of work and multiple streams of income is a real bonus. It means that I don’t have everything riding on one particular platform, so if one basket falls or I need to step away from it for a little while, all the eggs won’t crack, so to speak.
Ultimately, it’s a really personal thing I guess, and what works to keep one blogger sane won’t work for the next. I always go back to a piece of advice I received when I first started blogging back in 2011, which was to keep at the front of my mind why I started blogging in the first place. If I go back to that initial reason (for me it was about flexing my creative muscles, generating new commissions as a journalist and learning new skills) then I find it easier to get back on my own personal blogging path which is, in itself, the epitome of blogging Zen.
Are you a blogger? How do you avoid online burnout and find that elusive state of blogging Zen?