For podcasters, especially of the indie variety, the grind of content creation and promotion never ends. Burnout is a very real threat and so is reaching the point where you want to dump your show in the podcast graveyard. I don't want you to ever be in the position where keeping your podcast alive means accepting the decline of your mental, emotional, and physical health, so I've put together a list of suggestions for implementing self-care specifically geared toward podcasters. Some of them may appeal to you, or none of them, but the overall message is this:
Take care of yourself. If you need permission to stop working yourself into the ground and tend to your health and wellness, this is me giving it to you.
Reward yourself I don't care what the task is that you have at hand, reward yourself for doing it. It could be as tedious as editing subtitles or as simple as updating your website. When you've finished your work for the day, find a way to celebrate it. This could be watching a television show, taking a hot shower, treating yourself to some ice cream, or deciding you won't open your email or social media for the rest of the night. You don't have to go out on the town every time you complete something, but you should always make sure you have something to look forward to for when you are finished.
Create a fun workspace I'm not one of those people who can work in a place that feels sterile. If you are, then make it a priority to keep the space where you work on your podcast free of clutter. If you're like me, and you thrive on being surrounded by things that make you happy, then absolutely put Pokémon and anti-anxiety stickers on your computer, have a little teddy bear that sits on your desk, and hang up prints from your favorite comic strip or movie or artist. Even if you work somewhere that isn't yours to decorate, you can find a way to make yourself happy by using a notebook with a design you love or keeping your favorite type of pens and Post-It notes in stock. Just like above, this isn't about spending a lot of money, it's about doing something little (always using your favorite mug while you work!) that provides comfort or ease.
Yoga for desk workers I'm a fan of yoga as a stress reliever in general, especially when I can do it in my house where no one can see if I look like an idiot or skip downward dog because it kills my hamstrings (fact: I almost always skip downward dog.) But when you're podcasting, so much of your work is naturally going to be sitting down. To help prevent my body from getting stiff or to rejuvenate it after I'm done working, I turn to these videos in particular (though YouTube is awash with alternatives): Yoga at Your Desk (Yoga with Adriene) Office Break Yoga (Yoga with Adriene) Street Yoga (Yoga with Adriene) Wrist-Free and Hands-Free Yoga (Live Fertile) Desk Yoga for Neck and Shoulders (SarahBethYoga)
Schedule a show hiatus Not too long ago I wrote a post about how you deserve a break, preferably before you hit a point of injury in any way. One way to avoid having to suddenly stop because you simply can't take it anymore, is to plan ahead. Then tell your listeners it's happening. I've found that once you tell your listeners you're doing something, it's harder not to do it because - if you want to be a good host - you don't want to let your listeners down. So look ahead. Create a schedule for yourself in whatever way works for your style, but make sure it includes a break. Footnoting History almost always takes off the month of June. We air no new episodes. However, for me, my hiatus month is often July. I spend the month we aren't airing anything getting ahead on my various administration tasks. Then, when July hits, I have nothing to do put drop episodes out into the world...and write blog posts like this! People take vacations from other jobs, students get things like spring break, and television shows go on summer hiatus. You deserve to do the same thing, and you deserve to know when it's approaching so you can get excited for it.
Read, watch, or listen - for fun I love "bad" television, like 90 Day Fiance. I love Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen Mysteries and Vaseem Khan's Baby Ganesh Agency Series. I love Disney music and showtunes and Delta Goodrem. None of these in any way have a tie to Footnoting History -- and I'm happy about it. You need to indulge in things that are in no way connected to your podcast. Give your brain a rest and recharge your creativity. Pick something you love doing and know it's okay to not work on your podcast 24/7.
Ask for help If you work with someone else, and you're drowning under the load of it all, ask them for help. If you work solo, it's okay to bring in someone from the outside. Maybe a friend or acquaintance can help you answer those tweets, or read your script before you record. You are the most important part of your podcast, but you don't have to be the only part. (And if you ask someone, and they say no, ask someone else. You don't want help from someone who doesn't want to give it.)
Drink lots of water I know this is something people go on about all the time and isn't always received well, but hydration is essential for podcasting. It keeps you alert and functioning and it's incredibly important for your voice. You don't ever want to record with dry mouth. You may love coffee or juice or wine, but if you really want to take care of your body - and, as I said, your voice - you'll drink water all the time. My favorite way to do this is to keep a filled water bottle or mug on my desk at all times. As soon as it's empty, I refill it. If I always have it in view, I'm more likely to reach for it.
Motivational Meditation Imposter Syndrome is real, so very real. Apps like Insight Timer can help with that. Guided meditation, in general, is something I turn to when I'm feeling anxious or stressed, but it's also great with Imposter Syndrome - and who doesn't need help there? Empowering guided meditations can be a great way to get your own negative voice to go quiet, while someone else pumps you up by inserting the positive, reaffirming thoughts that will serve you better. If meditation isn't your thing (and I get that), you should still consider doing some deep breathing. If you give it a chance it will calm you down and help you center yourself. Taking a few minutes to focus on your breath and connect with your body can power you up for a long time. Need some help with it? You can visit the Calm website here - it literally tells you when to inhale and exhale. The simple, steady rhythm will work wonders if you let it.
Focus on topics you love If you are not enthusiastic about a topic, don't choose to cover it. You're doing yourself a favor if you don't tie yourself to topics that don't genuinely interest you. You're doing your listeners a favor too, because listening to a bored host is a real snooze fest. Not all self-care means not working. Sometimes it means working on the things you want and like as often as you can. And, if you're a podcaster who has a chronological narrative you need to stick to, yes I know you probably won't love every single point along the way. I don't mean that you need to skip that time period or person or event, but try to find a way to spin it to be about something you do like. You may have to cover the 1700s but historically not love that century. Maybe, though, you love theater or sports. Use those as your lens to that period. Even if it's still not your favorite, at least you'll be approaching it in a way that is less painful.
Take a bath or shower Stepping away from your podcasting duties even just for the few minutes it takes to let the water wash over you and soothe your muscles can go a long, long way to making you feel refreshed. You deserve to have that time alone, just you and the water. You might be surprised by how much it relaxes you and helps your brain find its ability to work again.
Say no I firmly believe that if you promise something, you should deliver it. But I also believe that you don't have to do everything. Sometimes self-care means turning down a project. You want to promote your podcast, right? But that doesn't mean you have to do every guest spot, write every article, or add every requested topic and feature to your to-do list. If the idea of adding to your workload makes your stress levels spike or the hair on the back of your neck stand up, you should probably say, no. There may be a better time for these things in the future, and if you handle it in a kind and professional way, opportunities might circle back to you.
Do you make time for self-care? What are your favorite ways to take care of yourself? I'm sure I missed many options, so definitely let me know your favorites!