The essential mental health toolkit for social media manager wellbeing

It’s no secret that we’re digital marketing experts with mental health issues. We’re bold about it. It’s not going to go away, and so all we feel like we can do is check in with professionals, spread mental health awareness and, frankly, own the conditions that frequently hamper our lives. We don’t reckon there’s much more a girl can do than that.

In our line of work – specifically content creation and social media management – we’re hyper-aware of how important social media manager wellbeing is. Our jobs don’t make optimum mental health particularly easy.

Think about it. Every day, we:

  • Are sitting in front of a screen for hours at a time.
  • Switch constantly between channels and have to manage them differently.
  • Hold huge responsibility for a company’s reputation.
  • Must be strategic.
  • Must be creative.
  • Must be process driven.
  • Must deal with data and numbers.
  • Must have perfect communication skills.

It’s just a handful of the things we juggle, and that’s before the general impact of office politics, commuting, people management and the rest.

Without serving our mental health, it’s hard to do our job to its full potential because it has so many strands that we need to prove we can do time and time again.

We’ve identified the areas that need most mental health attention from a social media manager’s point of view, and have put this blog post together as a social media manager wellbeing toolkit type article to help you out when you most feel the strain of mental health struggle.

Please note we’re in no way mental health professionals. The below has been constructed simply from our own experiences of what has helped us. In the first instance with any mental health issue, the best person to see is a doctor.

Social media manager burnout

Feeling burnt out means you’ve been burning the candle at both ends for too long, and brain and body are starting to give up on you a bit.

Recovering from burnout requires proper, quality breaks from work, serious self-care time and – most importantly – quality sleep.

As lots of the other categories below are self-care focused, let’s focus on how to get the very best restful sleep that you can.

Set your alarm for when you actually want to get up

We’re so guilty of this! We generally need to get up around 7 am every morning, but for reasons known only to the universe, we’ve spent years setting our alarm for 6.15 am every weekday. Never once have we jumped out of bed to start the day at that time.

20 snoozes later, it’s 7 am, and we’ve achieved nothing but very broken naps that make us extra resentful to leave our bed, missing out on 45 minutes of decent sleep that could’ve made all the difference to our overall wellbeing.

Let’s do this one together. No more setting your alarm clock to wake you up early for no reason, At the point of burnout, those extra minutes fast asleep are going to do you a world of good.

Tidy your room

Seriously, put time aside to do this. Treat yourself to freshly washed sheets, do away with the clutter and make your room as cosy and calming as you can. Set yourself up for a really restful night.

Use a pillow spray

If you get on with this sort of thing, a gorgeous aromatherapy pillow spray can be really great for inducing deep sleep.

We love This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray when we’re having trouble drifting off. If you’re tempted to invest, don’t be put off by the tiny bottles – there’s something magical in there that does the job with a single spray!

Try a hypnosis podcast

We swear by this very old but very effective 3 Minute Hypnosis podcast for really troublesome nights when our mind just won’t quieten down.

Pop the Hypnotic Sleep episode on when you slide into bed and let this gorgeously hypnotic meditation lull you into slumber.

Read fiction (or nothing!)

Hands up who thinks bedtime is the best time for entrepreneurial, business or self-help books? 🙋

We did too for a long while – holidays too. And then our therapist kindly informed us that we were causing an absolute nightmare for our sleeping pattern.

She recommended a book that appealed to our love of all things Parisian, called The Little Paris Bookshop, and assured us that all we were doing by reading non-fiction books before bed was setting our mind racing rather than winding down for the evening.

If you’re not so au fait with fiction, ask a friend to recommend you something lovely for bedtime. It’ll be something to talk about, whether you love or hate the story!

Have a screen-free hour

We know you know this. Blue light offered up by our computers and smartphones is detrimental to sleep, so you need to ditch all the screens at least an hour before bedtime.

Use that time to work up a ritual that begins with putting down your phone and turning off Brooklyn 99.

Take regular breaks

Moving away from optimising bedtime, it’s important to also manage your relaxation during the day – especially while you’re working.

To really recover from burnout, you have to reserve any remaining mental energy after you’ve exerted yourself, and re-charge what you have for the next task. This means taking breaks. Not just spending five minutes scrolling through Instagram (you are already spending a lifetime managing social media, don’t add to it!) between working on documents, but actually getting up to make a drink and stretch your legs, taking time to breathe deeply and moving away from a screen to collect your thoughts/reflect on the day so far.

If you’re not great at scheduling regular breaks for yourself, get yourself this Pomodoro timer. Really take the time to be mindful about your breaks – you’ll be amazed at how your energy levels transform when you reserve brain power and have a rest after intense spells of work/concentration.

Take full days off

Not only that but be strict about hard stop times when your working day is over.

Your brain is no doubt magnificent, but it’s not indestructible. Letting your work seep into evenings and weekends and over-scheduling yourself will lead to further burnout because you’re experiencing constant stress, eventually reaching a point where you don’t have the energy to do anything at all.

You’re entitled to rest and relaxation. Take it. 💛

Treat yourself to a Buddy Box

Burnout can have all kinds of physical and psychological effects and symptoms, from funny tummies and nausea to finding life relentlessly hard, even unjustified feelings of guilt.

Just as you would when you’re sick, it’s entirely reasonable to feel like you need a little nurturing and a pick-me-up. A Buddy Box is our favourite way to cheer ourselves up after a tricky mental health period.

The fantastic Blurt Foundation – a mental health charity headed up by the sensational Jayne Hardy – sell these ‘hugs in a box’ for those who are in need of a dose of TLC.

They can be sent to someone who’s struggling with a personalised note, or you can treat yourself to one. You’ll be sent a box full of depression-friendly goodies, from edible bits to easy arts and crafts projects, and generally, just offer up an opportunity to shut out the outside world and focus on you.

If you have the cash to spare, we highly recommend these.

Social media manager anxiety

Ergh, anxiety. That horrible mental illness that affects so many of us in big and small ways.
At one end of the scale, we’ve got the over-alertness, churning tummy and racing thoughts. At the other end, we’ve got the crippling fear of failure, of social interaction and the complete undoing of concentration levels.

Anxiety is completely subjective in its symptoms and in its duration. It can appear as a one-off episode or a long-term trait. Either way, the best you can do is manage it.

Here are a few things that have helped us in the past…

Ditch the coffee

Caffeine is not anxiety’s friend, and much of the time alcohol isn’t either. As much as you can, switch your regular tea or coffee to something herbal or, even better, plain old water.

So often we’ve got into a coffee-drinking habit just because that’s what our colleagues are drinking or because we’re working in cafes a lot. That’s fine when our mental health is in a good place, but when anxiety comes crashing in it makes things 100x worse.

When that happens, make a concerted effort to reduce your caffeine intake, and know that this is a great step in the right direction (and being caffeine-free is not forever, unless you want it to be).

Nourish your body

We totally understand that when you’re stressed, riddled with anxious feelings and social media management feels like the hardest job in the world, the last thing you want to do is put an hour aside to spend in the kitchen.

Although it’s quick to grab packaged lunches and order a pizza in after a hard day at work, these foods are simply not bringing you the nutrients, tastes or benefits of home cooking, in which you’d ideally be using lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Not only will cooking wholesome meals positively impact your energy levels, appearance and bank account, but your cognitive behaviours should improve too, easing anxiety and putting you firmly in control of what you’re nourishing your body with.

We work really hard to pack our meals with protein and vegetables but do have our slips into consistently eating out or turning to fast foods. If we need to pull ourselves out of a bad eating patch, we turn to Wholeheartedly Laura’s healthy recipes, and after a couple of days, we feel like a new woman. It’s so worth the kitchen time and a little forward planning!

Take belly breaths

Something magical happened to us when we started taking big, deep breaths from our belly instead of our chest.

Five big breaths like this have an almost instant calming effect on us when we’re anxious or nervous about something, or if we’re simply overwhelmed with work. A couple of weeks of doing this religiously every day saw our complexion brighten, our anxiety levels lower and – craziest of all – our anxiety-induced IBS pretty much entirely cleared up.

There’s a lot to be said for making sure oxygen is being properly distributed around the body, and the secret lies in the humble belly breath.

Prioritise properly

You know that feeling of sheer panic you get when you look at your to-do list, and it’s just one big clump of endless tasks, spanning pages of your notebook? Well, my friend, that setup is doing nothing for your nerves.

We’re not saying you shouldn’t have all your tasks in one place – definitely do that. But once you’ve tipped everything out of your head, you need to turn it into something manageable by prioritising.

At the beginning of each day, check your calendar and your deadlines and pull out the top three or four things that are genuinely deadline driven and MUST be done by the end of that day.

Now write them down on a fresh new page, and break each task down into tiny steps. We’re talking as small as, for example; log into WordPress > open fresh blog page > find blog post notes > decide final title etc. We’re looking for tiny but manageable steps to making a significant dent in your pressing tasks for the day.

This method is a lot less overwhelming than pulling things at random from one big list. Sure, it takes time to learn that you probably can’t do everything you’d like to get done in one day, but sit with those feelings and manage the expectations of your colleagues in terms of when you can realistically get their content requests (or whatever they’ve asked of you) done.

Invest in an aromatherapy rollerball

When we wake up and just get that dreaded feeling that today won’t be an easy one with our anxious feelings, we make sure we roll a cheeky slick of our Tisserand lavender rollerball onto our inner wrist.

They have a few different flavours to help you reclaim a “me moment”, ranging from renewed energy to calmness to mindfulness. All of their products use aromatherapy to assist you day-to-day, and we find a quick whiff of lavender goodness re-focuses our mind during periods of anxiety.

Share your anxiety worries

No matter what the message contains, our anxiety levels peak when we have loads of messages, phone calls and post that we need to respond to or take action on. Unfortunately, that sentiment rarely changes, whether we’re being contacted by a best friend or the tax man. That’s just the way mental illness goes sometimes.

If you’re feeling up to it, by far, the best thing to do is to share with a couple of close friends what you’re going through, and let them know that if you don’t reply to something right away, then they need not worry. You’re just managing things in your own time. A good friend will understand. What we love about our friends is that they know by now just to let us come back to them when we’re ready and that the space we need is not at all personal. We’re just learning to deal with what our anxious brain puts us through.

Make an emergency calm list

Much like we’ve done with this blog post to help you, it’s a great idea to jot down a list of things that calm you down when you’re having an anxiety attack or just when those feelings aren’t going away.

Keep the list somewhere easily accessible at all times – like in your desk drawer or on your phone – and make those actions simple to carry out, easy to do anywhere and, most importantly, that you know have a calming effect on you.

Check out the Blurt blog

Another big up for The Blurt Foundation!

Their blog is an absolute treasure trove of easy-to-digest, heartfelt and understanding information written especially for those suffering from mental illness. There’s not much you won’t find in there to deal with any situation relating to feelings of anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions.

If you feel like you’re in real trouble or need more hands-on support, their resource list can also point you in the right direction to seek help.

Check in with the doctor

If you’re experiencing a long bout of anxiety, we really recommend making a GP appointment.
It’s not that your doctor is going to magic up a cure or start delving into every area of your life to find a cause for anxiety, but mental health check-ins with a professional are important – even if your last appointment wasn’t that long ago.

A good doctor will ask some questions about how you feel, and recommend some next steps for you which you only need to take if you feel comfortable with them. The worst thing that can happen is that you take no next steps, but your doctor makes some notes on your file so that they can revisit them in the future.

If you have an appointment with a doctor that feels unsuccessful or like you’ve been misunderstood for any reason, simply head to reception on your way out and ask for a future appointment with a different doctor (you may even want to ask the receptionist for a doctor with significant experience with mental health cases). You have absolutely every right to see a medical professional that you connect with – mental health is delicate, important and incredibly personal.

Social media manager imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome is, thankfully, being talked about more and more.

If you’ve had persistent doubts about your own achievements – from doubting that you deserve qualifications you have earned to fear of being exposed as a fraud – despite having all the evidence that you’re competent at what you do, you’ve probably had a bout of the ol’ syndrome.

It’s a common trait among high-achieving women, who are prone to experiencing undeserving feelings around any success they have worked for – often dismissing this as a fluke, luck or even deceiving others into thinking they are intelligent.

It sucks, basically. And we think it’s time we kicked imposter syndrome in the butt, don’t you?

Regain control of your to-do list

A quick win in the face of imposter syndrome is to grant yourself control of your work production.

See the “anxiety” section above for our guidance on prioritising your to-do list. In general, if you organise yourself in a way that works for you, track your tasks expertly and manage the expectations of others, you’re less likely to let overwhelm build up at work and feel like you’re failing. A decent task management system really is worth the time you invest in it – make it happen.

Prioritise self-care

When do you feel at your best?

We feel great when we’ve taken full responsibility for our medical appointments (and actually show up for them), made ourselves a nutritious dinner (with enough to spare for tomorrow’s lunch), painted our nails and washed our best, most fierce lady boss outfits and hung them in our wardrobe ready for rocking.

Your version of self-care might be different, but there’s one thing that will almost definitely unite us: taking care of ourselves makes us feel better.

Whether looking polished boosts your confidence for the day ahead or reading a book for ten minutes each morning sets you up for a gruelling work schedule, put yourself first. Magical mindset shifts can happen when you do.

Try an affirmation podcast

Affirmations aren’t for everyone – we’re very sceptical about them generally, but in the past, we’ve not been afraid to give things a try when we’ve felt completely unfocused and muddled. As a result, we discovered Affirmation Pod by Josie Ong.

We particularly like her morning affirmation episodes, as we find them particularly inspiring when suffering from depression or anxiety and the thought of getting out of bed fills us with dread. But she has affirmations for all situations, including imposter syndrome. If you get on well with this podcast, Josie might just become your new best friend.

Get to a digital marketing event

When it comes to imposter syndrome, there’s just as much to be said for throwing yourself in at the deep end as there is for treating yourself gently. It depends on the kind of person you are.

Personally, we need to know we have our self-care in place so that we look our best and feel polished. Rightly or wrongly, this gives us more confidence to do our work. But we also need to be around people or be taught something when we feel good, so we feel like we’re not being forgotten by the rest of the world while we deal with these fraudster feelings and worries.

If that sounds like you, chat to some people in your team, check out a few event listings in your area and get yourself out there, connecting, debating, networking and upskilling. Those who have purchased one of our Heart and Soul Digital Content Planners will be receiving a monthly email absolutely PACKED with events you can attend all over the UK. Our customers don’t have to look far to get amongst the elites of their sector!

If you’re feeling like a work event (digital marketing conferences, social media workshops, blogging presentations… you know the type) will leave you feeling a bit too vulnerable right now, book up something completely different instead. We’re all about cooking classes and will HAPPILY attend one with you if you’re looking for something to do in London!

Bread making, anyone?

Social media manager writer’s block/creative lapse

Writer’s block or creative dry spells are just so annoying. We feel like us digital marketing/social media manager types are particularly susceptible to them because our jobs are divided completely; creativity and spontaneity are an absolute must for true social media trailblazing, but we have to work just as hard at being strategic in all we do, formulating process for content creation and, of course, stats reporting.

If you’re falling victim to the daily grind that’s so proficient at leeching any creative capability out of you, make some space to try a few of these little tricks…

Take a walk

This TEDx talk was presented in a meeting recently. It’s all about the power of walking when applied right before a creative brainstorm. We have tried it ourselves numerous times now and found it really helpful.

Switch off distractions

Tell yourself what you like, but you probably aren’t going to get far creatively if you’re constantly distracted.

To really get in the zone, try:

  • switching off your phone
  • switching off your music/radio
  • switching off any screens
  • working somewhere quiet
  • clearing your desk
  • preparing a drink, so you don’t get up halfway through your workflow.

If you really, really can’t concentrate in silence, perhaps pop on a Spotify Focus playlist. But really, be firm with yourself and test whether background noise is something you require to get shit done, or whether you’re using it as an excuse to put off getting into a flow.

Work at your most creative time

Test and monitor yourself. Are you most creative first thing in the morning? In the evening? Right after lunch (unlikely but stranger things have happened we guess)?

Work out your optimal creative time and shift your work schedule to ensure you’re completing creative work at that time. If you’re continuously trying to make magic happen during the daily afternoon slump, for example, you won’t be turning out your best work and probably burning yourself out a little – the brain can only take so much. Work with it.

For those slump hours in the working day, switch to the more process-driven tasks. These are likely to be more repetitive or have steps to follow, therefore better suited to those non-creative periods.

Don’t multitask

We’re not even going to offer much explanation here because we know you know this. Take it instead as a gentle reminder: Doing a tonne of things and once means you do nothing well, and you cut off the superhighways your brain forms to make you perform optimally. One task at a time please, and no more.

Change the atmosphere

A simple one, but one that works for us personally quite a lot.

We work from home much of the time, but home isn’t always our best place to get things done. It took a weirdly long time to come to terms with that, and to shake the guilt about spending money in coffee shops when they were giving us time and space to work.

It’s fine to fluctuate where you produce your best work. If you work from home like us, experiment and choose a couple of budget-friendly and wifi generous places nearby you can head to when you have cabin fever.

If you work in an office but the environment is no good for you, head to a coffee shop or local library with a laptop if you’re able. Simply let the boss know where you are and why, and you should be good to go.

Abandon everything and take in something creative

See a show, visit an exhibition, walk around a new park, get crafty, shut yourself in the kitchen and bake… if the pressure to be creative is getting to you, go full tools-down and just get out of your own head for a bit.

It doesn’t much matter what you do to be honest, as long as it’s kind to your soul and you enjoy it. Sometimes you just need to go back to the task at hand when you’ve had a little reset.

Switch to paper

Screens just aren’t good for creativity sometimes, posing a real pain in the arse for inspiration-starved social media managers.

Switch to paper. Invest in a gorgeous writing pen (we refuse just to use any old biro in our notebooks – we’re very fussy!) and some highlighters and just scribble until your brain kicks into gear. Reconnect with that messy process and transfer your work to screen when you feel like you have something genius.

Find a ritual

Once you’ve tested a few different things and found what inspires your creativity, make a ritual of it.

For example, if you’ve found that you work better having been for a short walk, with a herbal tea at your desk, with your phone in another room and a scented candle burning, make a routine of setting all of this up before settling into creative work. Make these the touchpoints that ignite your creative flow, and hold them in unashamedly high regard.

Creativity is not easy to conceive; let alone turn into something tangible. Treasure the process that works for you.

Social media manager wellbeing

Social media manager wellbeing is not something that you should initiate when the shit hits the fan. It’s an investment in yourself. All that time you spend not tending to your own needs, replacing that instead with an overstuffed work schedule, is a loan from your future self. Overwork and stress come back around, and it isn’t kind, so let’s really get your social media manager wellbeing rituals in full swing before any more damage is done.

Eat like the French

Ok, we’ve started on a VERY weird one. But hear us out.

We’re a not-so-secret Francophile. We’re obsessed with “The French Way”. Our favourite city in the world (besides London) is Paris, and we’re particularly obsessed with delicious, delicate French cooking. Even more so with how French women are so unequivocally chic, despite being surrounded by all the bread, pastry, wine and buttery dishes on offer.

So much so, in fact, that we started reading about it.

We’ve loved poring over French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano (CEO of the delectable Veuve Cliquot champagne company) and Jennifer L Scott’s Lessons From Madame Chic.

Being foodies ourselves, we fast fell in love with the eating advice these ladies dished out.

In line with French tradition, we now try our hardest to:

  • make breakfast not only nutritious but also a time of mindfulness and self-care time
  • use our favourite cups and crockery, always
  • avoid doing one big monthly grocery shop – it does not leave enough leeway for creating meals that are vitamin-packed from fresh fruit and veg
  • exercise portion control, which sounds terrible, BUT…
  • make ourselves more than one course at any given mealtime when we can.

The whole concept is about avoiding deprivation, for what is life without the odd edible vice? But about trading off in really simple terms, remedying the treats, you enjoy with a leaner meal or extra few steps of exercise. Mireille Guiliano refers to this as “the French Paradox”, and we’re obsessed.

Little amounts of many things, fresh food and no cheap fads. Them’s the rules. And they’re rules that make us feel revitalised, energetic and fulfilled – really taking care of that all-important social media manager wellbeing from the depths of our little London kitchen.

Exercise (on your own terms)

We struggle with being prescribed exercise to remedy psychological things, particularly mental health conditions like depression. Because we freak out when we’re too warm or sweaty (two very common anxiety symptoms for us), we find it outrageously hard to find the motivation to get up and do a class or go running. We try, we really do, but we have to be pretty bloody pumped and carefree to do it.

That said, we know full well that it makes all the difference to how we function. And whilst exercising with depression will be an ongoing battle for us, we do try to apply it when we can by taking advantage of those fleeting urges to feel better by doing something other than sitting at our desk. Unsurprisingly, it works.

If you’re resistant to scheduling exercise in because you don’t like it, we give you permission here and now to ditch that effort if it really doesn’t work for you. All that’s going to happen is that you’ll build up anxiety around that calendar slot and spend time worrying about that, rather than getting the exercise done or optimising your mental health.

But what you can do instead is give yourself permission to recognise when you want to give yourself more brain space and do something about it on the spot.

As in the video above, you could go for a spontaneous walk, you could do some stretches, you could pop to a lunchtime yoga class if that’s your jam. It’s still exercise, but it’s something you haven’t built up feelings around. Just get up and walk around the block without thinking, as a prep for getting stuck into a creative project.

Ditch the planning and exercise according to what your brain requires, rather than what the fitness gurus tell you to do.

Morning stretches

We actually learnt about the power of the morning stretch from the queen of burlesque and eccentric style, Dita Von Teese.

Check out this hilarious (but very tongue-in-cheek) interview with Dita while she’s nailing a morning pilates class – it’s our favourite.

In her book, The Beauty Mark, she takes you through a routine for each morning that limbers you up, working from the top to the bottom of your body. Now you may not be preparing to dance onstage covered in crystals on an average Tuesday (but if you are let us know where you’re performing, we’ll be there). However, the endorphins released from just these simple stretches can kickstart those creative juices and generate serotonin, which you need to feel happy. Spend ten minutes on this each morning and behold the psychological differences.

Get yourself onto YouTube for a wealth of stretch routines you can take advantage of at any time of day.

Meditation and mindfulness

Letting life rush past you constantly at 100 miles per hour doesn’t exactly open your mind to the beautiful nuances of the world, and you kind of need those to make you feel like anything is worth doing at all.

If meditation guidances like Headspace or Meditation Oasis aren’t for you (do give them a try though), set out with intention. Intention to walk slowly, intention to notice what you come into contact with every day, intention to think through the moves you make and the actions you take.

A little practice goes a long way when it comes to mindfulness, and can make all the difference to how you feel about life too.

And while we’re here, just remember: Whatever the rogue thoughts may tell you, you are worthy of your success, and you are worthy of self-care. That’s all you need to concentrate on.

Content planning needs a revolution

This is it.

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