How to protect your mental health as an influencer

Do you ever feel like endlessly scrolling on Instagram or avoiding your ‘to do’ list? You’re not alone. It can be tough working alone as an influencer and building a business that has no clear pathway.

You might be having a bad, unproductive day, then log into any one of your apps to see someone hitting the exact goal you want to achieve. Why do you feel so stuck?

One of the best things about social media is that it’s pushing conversations around mental health to the forefront. It can be a powerful, educational tool that unites those who are struggling with the same issues.

With that in mind, we’re looking at three common issues that influencers are dealing with in 2020, plus tips on how to protect your mental health. The key is to recognise that you may require ongoing strategies. Nobody’s journey has a clear end point, and there will be days when you feel more challenged than others.

It can also be hard to recognise the signs. There are times when you might feel motivated to start selling presets, then completely dismiss the idea and feel worthless a week later. What happens next? You end up feeling worse and never try to attempt the idea again.

Hope is not lost. We have the lowdown for all the books, podcasts, and accounts you need to be following for a more positive mindset. Type any names mentioned into your podcasts app for any further pearls of wisdom.

1. Comparison

Symptoms – Scrolling endlessly on Instagram and feeling worse when you spot another influencer nabbing a book deal. You end up taking it personally, rather than feeling inspired.

Who to follow – You need Lucy Sheridan’s feed in your life. She’s the first and only ‘Comparison Coach’ who can help you deal with the self-sabotaging behaviour brought on by social media. It can be extremely detrimental to your personal growth to hate-follow or hold yourself to unrealistic ideals.

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Lucy keeps each post relatable, explaining that social media is a bit like the ‘Las Vegas’ of comparison. It’s open all hours, and there is always something that can trigger us and potentially take us into a low mood.

Also, you can never know the full story when it comes to those on your feed. Case in point? That influencer’s book deal may have come about after 30 rejections. It’s important to remember that people are prone to posting their highlights rather than the journey, and you may never know the real context.

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Tips – Don’t try and pretend it isn’t happening. Acknowledge the thoughts, unfollow the accounts that send you spiralling, and assess what you really want from life. Take the quiz to find out your particular flavour of comparison before figuring out how to define and work towards your goals.

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Resources – Lucy’s book ‘The Comparison Cure.’ It also helps to listen to interviews with entrepreneurs on shows such as ‘In Good Company,’ as it’s a reminder that most career journeys aren’t linear.

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2. Procrastination

Symptoms – This can be a direct result of comparison. You may plan to create a course, organise an event, or shoot something creative for IGTV, but end up spending hours on Twitter instead looking at memes. Then you feel worse and repeat the same steps the following day. It’s an intentional decision that can quickly feel like a habit.

Who to follow – Fortunately there is a solution! Behavioural scientist Nir Eyal actually helped invent the technology that gets us hooked, by allowing us to associate certain products with internal triggers. Now he’s advising us on how to break the habit, manage said triggers, and follow through on what we intend to do.

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TipsThe key is avoiding distraction is to delve deeper, and find out why we continue to do the actions that go against our best interests. This may look like downloading an app such as Self Control to avoid Facebook at certain times or examining what prompts you to obsessively check social media.

Perhaps you’re just overwhelmed by the e-course? Journal, speak to a like-minded friend, and see if you can find podcasts featuring people who have struggled with the same thing.

ResourcesEyal’s book ‘Indistractable‘ comes with handy worksheets that help you understand that the root cause of distraction is a desire to escape discomfort. ‘The Kindness Method‘ is also a great addition to your toolkit.

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It looks at ways to manage addictive behaviours and encourages you to create mind maps to explore the issues at hand.

3. Perfectionism

Symptoms – You could describe this as the parent of procrastination, as it’s the pressure to complete tasks to a very high standard. Perhaps it’s not the right time to start working on that e-book because you can’t get past the first sentence. You may also prefer to hold onto the idea of writing the ebook, rather than putting it to the test and potentially failing.

Who to follow – Get acquainted with Sam Laura Brown of The Perfectionism Project. She clearly explains that perfectionism is a mindset that can actually stop you from achieving your goals. You attach self worth to results but have such a low opinion of yourself, that you don’t even try to achieve the thing you want in the first place.

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Basically it’s a way to avoid failure, vulnerability, and shame. Perfectionists overthink, people please, and are crippled by their own high standards. Sam shares her journey towards becoming more self aware and details the mindset you need to work towards your goals.

Tips – Again, it’s key to be kinder to yourself and embrace the discomfort you may feel before starting a difficult task.

It also helps to think from a logical point of view. If you’re aiming to post an Instagram once per day, a blog once every 10 days plus the odd IGTV, sometimes ‘done’ is good enough. Not everyone is putting the equivalent of a Beyoncé album out every day.

Praise yourself for the effort rather than the outcome. Sometimes it takes multiple days of showing up, experimenting, and things not going too well to stumble across the topic that could take your following up to the next level.

Sometimes just going for a walk and stepping away from that tricky blog post, can be a massive help. Don’t force yourself to be productive, as you can quite often feel worse and avoid things altogether. Remember that every step is meaningful.

Resources – Hurry Slowly is a great listen if you need to structure your day mindfully. Jocelyn K. Glei advises taking a slower approach to unlock clarity and creativity.

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Although it can be hard to deal with the uncertain climate, negative media perception, and the pressure to create consistent content, just remember that you are valid. The influencer industry has allowed so many marginalised groups to create sustainable businesses and tell important stories. These issues are normal and if you ever feel able to share your story, it could help someone else in the same position.

Quick tips

Take a break – Go for a walk if you’re struggling to respond to a difficult email, and take some time away from the situation.

Journal – Reflect on what you’re worrying about in that present moment, what is actually happening, and put the notebook away. Look at it a week later, and see whether your feelings have changed.

Tell a friend – It can be easy to bottle things up, but open up if you can. If that’s not possible, then think about how you would talk to a friend who’s going through the same thing as you. Try to extend that compassion to yourself.

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