Dr. Kilmer talked about anxiety, imposter syndrome, and burnout, explicitly on content creators and people working in the content creation industry.

May was Mental Awareness Month, and we were honored to welcome Dr. Kilmer, Director of Education and Training at Game to Grow, to the AMG Hour. She talked to us about anxiety, imposter syndrome, and burnout, explicitly on content creators and people working in the content creation industry. AMG Hour is a monthly space with keynote speakers on various topics relevant to content creation. It is also where our team of talents can come together, interact and support each other as part of the Aftershock Media Group family.

Anxiety, Impostor Syndrome, and Burnout

The topics of anxiety, impostor syndrome, and burnout are big topics on their own. Dr. Kilmer introduced each issue with coping skills or strategies to manage and support yourself if you are experiencing it

Anxiety, Imposter Syndrome and Burnout

Anxiety

It is important to note that anxiety is a beneficial alarm system. Dr. Kilmer described it as similar to a smoke detector. If a smoke detector goes off, we check first if it is a real fire or just some burning toast and act accordingly. We either put out the fire, call the fire department or turn the alarm off in less severe cases. The smoke detector does not tell us precisely what is wrong or even how significant the problem is. It only tells us something is wrong. For some people, the sensitivity in this alert system is so high that if it were a smoke detector, it would go off when you heat a skillet. And that sensitivity is a little too strong and not helpful or functional.

“I want you to remember anxiety helps us know that something is important to us. Something we need to pay attention to.” – Dr. Kilmer

It is essential to take note when anxiety happens. So, when we’re thinking about anxiety for content creators, there are times when it commonly shows up. For example: Right before people go live. Are people joining or leaving? Is it lower than average? Sometimes, content creators can feel anxious about taking a break, which can also cause anxiety.

Here, you are identifying why these issues cause anxiety and understanding the outcome you’re afraid of. We can often make better plans because we are thinking about moving forward, and anxiety is typically forward-focusing.

“I often like to think about emotions like toddlers. You might answer the same question 15 times, and it’s still asked repeatedly, but you’re not going to yell at your toddler. They’re trying their best.” – Dr. Kilmer

Imposter Syndrome

When you think about impostor syndrome, you must take a step back and start to think about whether the reason is that you feel you don’t belong or is it that you don’t believe you’re good enough. Or is it because you have gotten messages from people saying you don’t belong. It can happen even if you might look like everyone else and where you might have similar ideas.

“I want to encourage you to consider if these beliefs are coming from you or are they coming from somebody else? And, is that person a reliable source of information on this topic?” – Dr. Kilmer

Chances are, the people telling you you don’t belong, or you should quit, or you are not good enough may not be the most reliable sources of information. But, if you’re experiencing impostor syndrome coming from yourself, you can set goals and understand that the feeling may not go away. Therefore, understanding where it comes from is crucial. Is this a thing coming from you? Are you setting your goals, and are you reasonable? Or are you setting your standards unreasonably high? Then you can understand how you want to adjust and move forward.

Burnout

Content creation is often a passion job. You have to care a lot about it. Many content creators are not making money or enough money to live on when they first start. They’re often required also to do another job. So you are already beginning where you likely have a lot of work hours.

On top of that, you have to stay relevant, stay active, and grow your membership. You have this challenge in which social media doesn’t turn off, and it’s something you need for your job. So, many content creators spend an unhealthy and unsustainable amount of time on social media. And it can become this loop where it’s tough to get off social media. And coming back to it can also be challenging. That’s when we’re talking about burnout in this space.

Assess, Plan and Act

Assess

The first thing to think about is your goal. You must assess your needs and identify the challenges and possible resources to achieve your goals. Maybe your goal is to get more sleep, eat healthier, or exercise more. Then identify the obstacles you experience in attaining those goals.

You then want to think about what your resources are. Make a list. It does not have to be about food or sleep, or exercise. List everything you can think of. Some resources may be friends, family, a supportive community or peers, a comfortable bed, etc. And then, you can narrow down the resources that are the most relevant to your needs. Because sometimes, we get stuck thinking about our resources with a specific need in mind. When in reality, something that doesn’t look like it would be helpful actually ends up being the most helpful.

Planning: SMART Goals

The following piece is planning. When thinking about SMART goals, you want them to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-limited.

Planning: SMART Goals

“So if you’re thinking about getting more sleep, I need to get more sleep is a great intention. It’s a really terrible goal. Because it doesn’t give us any kind of information.” – Dr. Kilmer

Are you thinking about getting more sleep? What does this look like? Be specific. That might be getting seven hours of sleep instead of only five. That’s specific and also relatively measurable.

Then you want to think about is this achievable? You don’t have to go immediately to the ideal. Because if you try and go too far and crash and burn, it is less likely you will be willing to try this again. Relevance relates to what you care about. More sleep probably means taking better care of yourself, being better at your job, or being less burned out. You also have to think about how you will get more sleep. Typically getting more sleep is going to be relevant, and then finally, you want to make this time-limited. Think about when to start and when the experiment will end. Once it ends, then you can think about going through the process again.

SMART goals are challenging but effective and require a fair amount of willingness to put in the effort. Here is where your support team comes into play. Let your support group know what your goals are and how it is going to affect both you and them. And also, let them know how they can check in and help you if needed.

Action

And then, finally, you’re going to put your plan into action. So, this is where you will use that time-limited piece from SMART goals where you said, “I’m going to start this in two weeks” or “I’m going to start this tomorrow.” You’re going to put your plan into action. You’re going to notice what works and what is not working. And keep trying that over and over. And then we get to go back up to the assessment part. Evaluate, adjust and restart the process, practicing your new skills continuously.

So, when we’re thinking about all of these parts, the anxiety, the burnout, impostor syndrome, part of it is understanding what some of the root causes are and then figuring out how to move forward with a plan to better support the things that we care about.

When should you see a therapist?

Suppose you’re planning for something scary and ending up in a panic state. It may be that today wasn’t the best day to prepare for that. But if you come back and you’re still experiencing those panic symptoms, even after a good night’s rest, that may signal that your anxiety system is a bit high-strung.

Touching base with a mental health professional can help you understand what and what not to worry about. Speaking to someone can also reduce the anxiety many experiences around some of these thoughts as they arise.

Seek help if you are:

  • Experiencing significant challenges in your work or interpersonal functioning that may cause lasting long-term damage.
  • Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there.
  • Having thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else.
  • Experiencing so many symptoms of burnout or frustration or depression and you might lose your job.
  • Like a little bit of guidance or support, or you’d like to be able to have another checkbox in that resources category.

Further Resources

**Slides supplied by Dr. Elizabeth D. Kilmer, Ph.D.