Streamer burnout is on the rise. In 2022 alone, we have seen a number of high profile streamers discuss how they have burnout. But what is streamer burnout and how can we recognise it?
Starting out as a streamer is full of possibility and excitement. You’re energised thinking about the content you’re going to create. You go live and then everything changes. Maybe you explode and the pressures of maintaining that popularity pile on. Perhaps the feedback comes flooding in and you feel you have to make changes. Maybe no one comes to your stream or watches your videos. Either way, over time, the pressures placed on you to adapt can strip away the enjoyment. As time goes by, you feel your energy drain. It’s like your thoughts are getting slower and you feel emotionally fragile. Are these feelings caused by what you have eaten for breakfast or the previous night’s poor sleep? Maybe, but if these feelings last in time, then I am sorry to say they could be symptoms of burnout.
Burnout is defined as a state of physical and emotional exhaustion. Burnout typically occurs when experiencing long-term stress in your job, or when you have worked in a physically or emotionally draining role for a long time. Whilst many of you may not recognise these factors when streaming, others will. It takes an emotional toll to present yourself to others for hours on end. In psychological terms this is called emotional labour. More on this later.
Why streamer burnout happens?
“Burnout is an incredibly real thing in streaming,” says Imane Anys, AKA Pokimane, who became the most popular female streamer on Twitch, with 9.2 million subscribers. She described on her secondary channel how she had to take a pause from Twitch to deal with burnout. “I recognize I’m very lucky to be able to work, however, I need to do what’s best for my mental health,” Pokimane explained. “A streamer sets their own work hours and it can be easy to fall into the trap of streaming eight to 12 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s frightening because people grind crazy long hours and see results – hence why so many do it.”
You may see the signs of burnout in yourself or the streamers you watch. Signs such as Physical and emotional exhaustion, Cynicism about the work, Detachment or alienation from work-related activities, Headaches or stomach aches, Reduced creativity, Depression, and Difficulty sleeping, eating or generally caring for yourself are common.
As mentioned earlier, burnout and emotional labour are often positively correlated. Ashforth and Humphrey defined emotional labour as “the act of displaying appropriate emotions, with the goal to engage in a form of impression management”. For streamers, this is the act of creating an impression in the minds of their audience. Perhaps streamers wish to appear competent at a game, attractive and desirable, humorous or any number of the positive ways we seek to present ourselves to others. Presenting an impression for long periods of time, however, can be exhausting. Think about the last time you took a flight. Consider the behaviour of the flight attendant or pilot who supported you. Within such roles, staff are expected to smile, be attentive, and calm. It’s understandable. No one wants to be sat in a tin can that’s about to fly at thousands of feet and hear the pilot crying over the intercom system. Your life is in that person’s hands and they have to present an impression of calm competence. Suppressing your emotion to present an expected impression takes an emotional toll. Just like the actors playing perfect Disney Princesses for eight hours a day seven days a week at Disney World, many streamers will feel they need to present a version of self. Even if it’s not drastically different from the version of you without a camera in your face, there is still a knowledge that what you say and do will be in the public domain. It is natural to want to want to create a positive impression, but it’s important to realise that this type of interaction can take an emotional toll.
TIPS TO AVOID BURNOUT
In a statement to provide support for streamer’s mental health, Twitch said that they are “developing targeted programming to support content creators with challenges like burnout, boundary-setting, and other pressures that come with a career in online content creation."* *Whilst they figure this out, here are some tips that we suggest to avoid streamer burnout:
Streaming should be part of the routine, but not your life: As ZeaIand, a streamer on Twitch with almost 100,000 followers, said on our previous interview* *“the nature of content creation is that every single person that does it, has to find their own way to deal with it, and find a workload they are comfortable with. The best you can do is educate people on what they can do to take care of themselves.”
Pokimane explained how she dealt with her burnout, caused by, what she feels, are the “insane amount of hours” she streams. By spending time with her family and friends. “I’ve veered away from doing extreme hours of live streaming in an effort to upkeep my mental health and I’ve found that it aids in the longevity of my career”, she stated after her decision to take a pause from work. You need to connect with your ‘offline’ life and take a break from constantly worrying about work. Creating a plan for your whole day could help keeping track of the hours that you dedicate to streaming.
Job crafting: by improving and making more interesting your own work you can have a better performance. Job crafting is a creative process regarding the strategies that are done by the workers to adapt to the request from the job. An example could be to develop a new skill by changing the type of game that you typically play or streaming about something else entirely.
Do physical activity, eat well and have a regular sleep pattern: when you lack sleep and proper nutrition, when you are constantly in a sitting position for many hours, it is going to be difficult to have the energy to do the things you wanted to do. Physical activity helps you release endorphins (produce a feeling of euphoria), eating well and getting enough sleep will give you the energy to sustain your working hour. The latter may be especially difficult to maintain for the streamers since some tend to stream during night-time. These aspects will help you to be more focus the next day and be more creative.A positive mindset brings positive things: Another thing that could lead to burnout are trolls. Many streamers experience burnout because they tend to focus only on the negative comments that came over continuously, and it’s mentally draining. As stated by Daniel Howell, “it’s only natural to take that one in a thousand comment and scale it up to everyone hates me”. In this case the best thing to do is to detach yourself from what is going on and remind yourself that those comments are not related to your person, they shouldn’t weigh on your life. Remember that it’s your channel, your content, and that you have the power to stop at any time.
If you're concerned about burnout or need a mate to talk to, we're here to help.