Working as a streamer, I have come to understand how the online world—I call it the “social machine”—can sometimes be a detriment to mind, body, and soul.
These six years of streaming have been an emotional roller coaster ride, especially in the beginning. Streamers feel constant pressure to maintain a fresh Timeline, stay current with trends, and keep their community happy—sometimes at the expense of their own well-being. Along with the inexorable “Timeline Upkeep,” online haters and trolls are out there rattling their digital swords, forever obsessed with perpetuating misery and delivering digital pokes and kicks from gloomy basements around the world. With all of this, it’s not surprising that online entertainers and influencers experience mental health issues on the regular.
Along with online pressures, streamers have their own personal IRL issues. Once a person becomes a “social media influencer,” personal and mental health issues often surface. During my six years online in the social machine, I’ve seen countless streamers have breakdowns and mental health setbacks, which they often never return from. Deteriorating mental health, I believe, is primarily due to extensive burnout and not learning to properly care for your mind and body. It’s SO EASY to “grind” and stream 12 hours a day and consume media almost 24/7.
But at what expense?
Because social media is relatively new, it seems there hasn’t been enough time to evaluate how the social machine impacts the human psyche—we are all in this unfolding experiment together. I’ve tried to learn from others and develop methods to combat mental health burnout and adapt the best I can.
Here are some techniques I’ve developed to maintain a strong mental well-being:
1) Learn to say “No”
As you enter the online world of entertainment and you begin to experience success, your time wears thin. You find yourself travelling to events, streaming, planning and posting to social media platforms, partaking in endless meetings, and working on various projects. Learn early to manage your time, so you don’t easily run into Doctor Burnout. It’s okay to say “No” to projects that would drive you into the ground. Manage your time wisely and create a strict but flexible schedule that feels good to you. Don’t get me wrong; to find success you do need to work hard. But learn how to manage your time early on or wherever you are in your career!
2) Limit your time on social media
This may seem counterintuitive as being a social media star implies you must interact with social media all the time. Yes, you do need to post and maybe see what’s going on, but LIMIT YOUR TIME there. The social machine—unbounded—is often degenerative to the mind and taxing to mental health. Constantly interacting with it—and processing the mental impulses it generates—can be hurtful and we don’t even know the extent of it yet! Scrolling for hours is more than just clicking and mousing; your mind is bombarded by thoughts like:
“Why don’t I look like them?”
“How come my video didn’t perform as well as theirs?”
“Why do they have more followers than me?”
“I look gross in this photo.”
These types of mental musings can negatively impact your well-being. Everyone is different but I feel best when I limit my time on social media. When I mindlessly scroll, I feel gross. Accomplish what you need to and disengage. Proactively monitor yourself, and you will likely realize you don’t need to be on it as much as you think you do.
3) Don’t allow pressure to squash you
People don’t understand the pressures of online entertaining. You are tasked with appeasing the masses and constantly chasing MORE. It’s easy to falter under the pressures of trends, styles, and the ever morphing machinations of the social machine. Early in my online years, I was under constant pressure to keep up with everything the machine was spewing. Trends shift constantly and it’s A LOT to keep up and be in on the latest. The pressure of hopping on every trend train can be crushing if you miss the mark or station. Don’t let it crush you! Do your best, and if one thing doesn’t pan out then move onto something else. I have learned to not let the pressure affect my mental ambiance—they’re just trends and if I miss out… So what?
4) Don’t compare yourself
You’ll stay unhappy if you constantly compare yourself to others. Someone will most likely always be more successful or have more than you, so to beat yourself up over not being where they are is a waste of time. It’s easy to think someone doesn’t deserve what they have but you do, for whatever reason. This is a loser mentality and emotionally crippling. Don’t look at others in that light, but if you do, don’t compare! Instead, ask yourself: “What are they not doing that I could be doing?” Make traditional comparisons profitable to your mind and time. Avoid asking yourself debilitating questions that make you feel bad.
5) Be grateful
With social media, we are constantly reaching for the bigger and “better” thing. Be grateful for what you have built and how far you have come. If you don’t pause to be thankful for what you have NOW, why would something else IN THE FUTURE make you feel better or be happy? It most likely won’t and you’ll find yourself reaching for the next thing again. By doing this, you never feel content and constantly feel unsettled. These feelings can damage your mental well-being. Avoid this trap. Keep reaching, but be grateful!
These are my top five tips on maintaining good mental health as a social media influencer. I hope you apply them and your mind clears up and you feel the load on your back ease. I understand these tips may not work for everyone. I am only sharing what helps me, and I hope the same success for you!
NOTE: Success on social media can be a double-edged sword. In my case, I grinded and sacrificed my well-being and happiness to build up my channel in 2015. I felt I was at a low point in 2015, mentally, but I chose to stream 8+ hours a day and work around the clock. I lived with the stress of barely paying my bills and making a life changing decision to quit school that year. With the world spiraling around me, I chose to sacrifice even more. A few times I broke down on stream crying because my mind was not in a good place. I’m not saying there is a right or wrong decision in this case, but I’ve definitely seen both edges of the social media sword. I took massive risks and lived at a bare minimum chasing the trend train, striving for the happiness of my community. I believe this resulted in the success I have today. Hence, the double-edged sword.