“It’s easy to fall prey to the myth that a good creator is an unhealthy and haggard one. Nothing is further from the truth.” @Finickii
Before I started freelancing, I thought the career path sounded very glamourous. You make your own hours, work from wherever you want, and even decide which projects to take on. (Spoiler alert: it’s definitely not that easy.) As it turns out, you also have to be the one to motivate yourself to work, which can be particularly difficult when you’re struggling with intrusive thoughts and plenty of self-doubt. And when you’re freelancing as a journalist? It can be even harder to parse through all of the reactions to any piece you might publish.
Recently, I spoke at PAX East alongside a few super stellar women in the industry, and we touched on the subject of burnout a bit. Our panel, “How I Got Into Games Journalism,” is by no means exclusive to games. Everyone can (and unfortunately, probably will) experience what it’s like to reach a breaking point, and it can be particularly difficult for people who work remotely. What happens when your deadline is fast-approaching, but you feel too stressed to submit on time? How do you balance your personal life with your work one?
I reached out to our community both on Twitter and Tumblr in the hope that this illusive question might spark a discussion, and it certainly did! Many of you chimed in with excellent suggestions, and I collected all of them here for the community to share.
Here’s what you had to say from the Tumblrverse and the Twittersphere. And if for any reason you’d like your quote removed, don’t hesitate to shoot an email. Your comfort level and safety are super important!
“it’s better for me to take the evening off so that tomorrow will be better.” @kathrynb42
“Get away from a screen. Go outside. Make something with your hands.” @janamakesgames
“I like to find a small project and get that to work. Then work on the big stuff.” @barelyconcealed
“by taking care of mind & body: yoga classes focused on breathing!” @BreeLundberg
“Burning out is your body telling you you’re over-doing it. Instead of wrestling with being human, I just take periodic breaks.” @Finickii
“if you’re stuck on something frustrating, switch to something you know you can finish so you can get back in the groove” @tentril
“Work/life balance. I work three days a week, because that’s how much I can manage without harming myself. And I’m ok with that :)” @virtualjess
“All of the above at different times and depending on what caused the burnout.” @wickedcactus
“I work a lot with heavy, narrative-driven games about unhealthy relationships. Nothing relaxes me like Skyrim!” @jazzmyth
“I go look for something new to do for a little while (entertainment media wise), to consume and recharge with by not having to do the work for a bit. An episode or two of a new cartoon or a match or two in a new video game can help me destress a lot. Otherwise, I do sometimes just go out for a long walk /be outside for a while” @sciencemyfiction
“When I was young, my mum gave me the advice to make my life wider. It’s probably my favourite advice. It means to have balance and not let one thing consume you. Take many breaks and cultivate other hobbies. Be kind to yourself and know which of the things you enjoy doing is best for you at any given time.
Also, find uninvolved people you’re able to vent to.” @feministgamingmatters
“I find the biggest thing for me is to give myself the permission to be tired and take a break. Just acknowledging that it’s normal and human is huge.” @gamerwife
None of this is ever easy, but remember: it’s always, always okay to reach out to someone for support. ❤ And if you have a suggestion that isn’t listed here, feel free to drop it in the comments! I’d be happy to add more self-care tips for the community.