The following is a Q&A with Dr. Ramani Durvasula. She is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor, and author. She specializes in the etiology and impact of narcissism and high-conflict, entitled, antagonistic personality styles on human relationships, mental health, and societal expectations. On Teachable she teaches others to heal from narcissistic abuse and offers a place of healing, learning, and connection for her students. The following interview has been edited for clarity and length.
May is Mental Health Awareness, and all too frequently creators and small business owners find themselves experiencing feelings of anxiety, burnout, imposter syndrome, and depression. We spoke with clinical psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasula about what creators specifically can do to take care of their mental health.
Teachable: What warning signs of burnout should creators look out for?
Dr. Durvasula: Common signs of burnout include fatigue and exhaustion, depression, irritability, low energy, lack of motivation, social isolation, apathy, and detachment from work and other activities of life. In content creators, this may show up as feeling disengaged from their content, feeling like they are “phoning it in,” resent of the need to engage with followers and having to create new content, and in essence losing sight of why they started doing this in the first place.
How can creators ground themselves in the moment when they’re feeling overwhelmed?
Develop and nurture your sources of support. This can be people you can call on in your social circle, people on your team, collaborators, other people in the content generation space, and therapy. There is a real disconnect between what the world sees (they think you are always together and having the time of your life creating content) and what it really is (idea generation, editing, moderation, never really getting a day off.) So having safe spaces where you feel seen, heard, validated, and safe can help you weather the dark nights of the creator’s soul!
What is one of the biggest mental health challenges creators are likely to face?
Anxiety. First of all, anxiety may be one of the most common mental health challenges and issues out there, but it can show up in many ways for creators. There is the pressure to constantly be generating new ideas. [Creators are] never really getting a break because there is always the pressure for new, more, and different content. There’s the cruelty of trolls (the internet is a mean place!),and the pressure to stay ahead of the curve, the social comparison that comes when you see another creator’s booming platform, and living what can feel like a disconnect. And there’s that perpetual “imposter syndrome” fear that plagues so many creators. Remember, anxiety is a fear about something that has not happened or that we have constructed in our head, but it feels so real.
How can they better overcome those challenges when they do arise?
Self-compassion is so important for creators. Self-kindness instead of judging yourself. Recognizing that all content creators feel the same way, and recognizing that anxiety, fear, worry, any feeling—will pass, even if you are worried you will always feel stuck. Talking to other content creators helps. But it is also important you have a life outside of the content you create—something that is yours like a hobby, private time that you don’t document for the world, exercise, or other daily practices. You also need times when you shut the devices off.
What have you found helps you most when you’re feeling stressed from work?
Getting lost in a great TV show or movie, being in my own therapy, dealing with problems or issues that aren’t related to my content, travel—even if it is for work (the change of scene can be an eye opener and perspective shifter), and having a routine. I am an introvert, so when I am really stressed, I try to work or do things alone. And I believe sleep can solve anything. I may be despairing as a day goes on, but a good night’s sleep will often calibrate me.