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Letter to the BlogPaws Community: Tackling Burnout

To our amazing BlogPaws Community,

We’re trying something new today and I’m excited for you to join me on this journey.

Here at Team BlogPaws, we have a not-so-secret obsession with content marketing and SEO. Ask any of us on the team a content or SEO-related question and before you know it, you’ll be slowly backing away like my favorite Homer Simpson meme. We eat, sleep, and definitely drink SEO tips and info about Google updates… though I’m not entirely sure Britt actually sleeps.

BUT as much as we love to develop our best practices and study algorithm changes, we also like to learn the rules just so we can break them. So that’s what we’re doing here today. I’m writing for the sake of writing. I’m writing to reach YOU and to connect with YOU.

woman writing letter with a calligraphy pen | Letter to the BlogPaws Community: Tackling Burnout

Welcome to the first of (hopefully) many letters to our BlogPaws Community. The purpose of these letters is to check in, to be transparent, and to say hi.

This idea first crossed my mind because I’ve been dealing with my own writer’s block. As many of you know, I stumbled my way into the pet industry when I created my own pet blog, Beagles & Bargains. For years, I created regular rank-worthy content with what now seems like so much ease. Today I’m guilty of missing more than a few deadlines because I’m just not motivated to get started on my writing assignments.

That lack of motivation? That’s burnout rearing its ugly head. 

Now I’m not here to talk all about my problems – though sometimes opening up and venting can feel really good. Instead, I want to start an open conversation about burnout.

 

This time of year can be especially challenging. The holidays are quite literally upon us, which means we’re pulled in so many different directions. We have a business to run, holiday promotions or coverage to fit into our already busy schedules, personal and family commitments, and even just the desire to do holiday things like decorate, look at lights, or even sit by the fire. Plus, here in the US, winter is approaching. The nights are getting longer, the days are getting shorter, it’s getting colder, flu season is here, and some of us have to shovel snow.

I could keep going, but I think you’ve gotten the point. It’s a lot. We love this time, but we also kind of hate it.

 

When that dislike starts to outweigh the enjoyment, you might be experiencing burnout. When you procrastinate completing hard projects by tackling the easy things first no matter their priority, you might be experiencing burnout. When you find yourself staring at your computer screen becoming less and less productive with each day, you might be experiencing burnout.

There’s not one definition of burnout, but it’s generally believed to be caused by work-related or other stress and tends to present itself with three symptoms: exhaustion, alienation from related activities, and reduced performance. Burnout is even more common in passion-driven fields where people tend to sacrifice their own needs to help others. Sounds a lot like the pet industry, right?

 

Tackling burnout isn’t easy. It’s actually really, really hard. And if you’re dealing with it, know you aren’t alone. I’m right there with you, but we’ve got this. You’ve got this.

 

When experiencing burnout, you might also start to experience physical symptoms  – headaches or a lowered immune system that welcomes in the latest virus. I’m on week 3 of who knows what.

Just like when we’re physically sick, when we experience burnout, we want to go back to “the way things were before” as soon as possible. We want to work extra hard to catch up on the deadlines and work we’ve missed, so that we don’t feel like we’re behind or less than.

But by doing that we dig ourselves deeper, we pile on the stress, and we feel even more like we’ll never get ahead. 

woman writing letter with a calligraphy pen pin | Letter to the BlogPaws Community: Tackling Burnout

Want to know my secret? Saying no.

The word “no” sounds so negative, but by saying no, you give yourself the room to catch up, the space to tackle a difficult project, and the time to devote to your own self-care. By saying no, you actually gain.

But of course, saying no isn’t always easy or even possible. Maybe you can’t say no because your team is depending on you or you have a hard deadline to make. Maybe you’re responsible for the care of another person or pet. If you’re in this position, speak up. Update your team, share with your family, turn to a friend, or post in the BlogPaws Community.

Too many times we try to carry a burden that our teammates and loved ones are more than willing to help with. I can’t begin to describe the feeling of when you finally open up and are met with a response of “How can I help?” It’s even better than a metaphorical weight being lifted off your shoulders.

 

If you’ve said no, asked for help, and you’re still struggling with burnout, that’s okay. Don’t give up. If you still feel stuck, I invite you to consider speaking with a professional and while it might sound a little silly, consider taking a vacation or some time off dedicated to YOU. Spend a day or week doing nothing on your work or chore to-do list and only doing things that bring you joy. 

We can’t all go to an all-inclusive resort by the beach, but we can go for a walk, draw a bath, solve a puzzle, play a game, write a fun story, or create something with our hands. Distracting our minds with something positive can help reset our feelings towards our commitments and as you might expect, removing ourselves from the things that are causing us stress, can reduce our overall stress.

 

There’s no one path to conquering burnout and the process isn’t always quick, but if you start to notice the signs creeping in give yourself the freedom to say no, ask for help, and dedicate at least one day to doing something that brings you joy.

I’ve always found that hearing from others who deal with similar challenges empowers me to make the hard choices or take the first step toward conquering that challenge. If you’ve experienced burnout before or are tackling it now, join in on the conversation. 

Let me know in the comments: 

  • How are you doing? 
  • What’s working and what isn’t? 
  • And how can I help?

Until next time,

Jessica

 

About the Author: Jessica Shipman is the COO / CMO of BlogPaws. She has been in the pet industry since 2013, when she accidentally became a content creator and launched Beagles & Bargains. Since then, she has loved leading the PetBiz Collaborative, a membership group for small pet business owners, with Chloe DiVita and engaging in the BlogPaws Community. When she’s not planning content or researching SEO keywords, you can find Jessica loving on her two dogs, Luna and Ralph, and putting her Ivy League Engineering Degree to work as a sought-after web developer.

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