Mental Health as a Book Blogger. It ain’t always books and rainbows.


I tweeted a few months ago about the challenges that come with doing what I’m doing right now: blogging. Although I love writing and reading with my entire soul, I have found that it can be extremely easy for us book bloggers (and other bloggers) to fall into fatigue or exhaustion concerning what we do. I feel as though there is a level of ignorance regarding the amount of time and effort it takes for us to read through a book, annotate and make notes, write a review, edit and then publish it.

It is exhausting, especially if you’re not taking care of your mental and emotional health.

I thought that for today’s post, I just wanted to talk about my personal experience with blogging in connection with my mental health and little tips that I’ve found to help when everything gets a bit too much or ways to ensure that your mental health comes first.


Don’t mind me, I’m just an anxious bean

Blogging was more a way for me to be able to have a safe space where I could write about how I was feeling, why I was feeling that way and just to be me without judgement. Transitioning to a book blog from a writing blog was the best decision I’ve ever made. It allowed me to fangirl about my favourite books but also write lame poetry about my emotional stability.

I found my place.

When I started gaining some momentum, I found, amazingly, that actual authors would ask if I could review their books! Authors asking me to read and review their books! As if I was important! It was surreal and I so wanted to be good. But I slowly realised that reading books that I committed myself to review, is so much different than reviewing a book I read and needed to rant or preach about. The difference is that my opinions and critiques need to have a sound basis of reason. I wanted to be truthful and be detailed enough that I wouldn’t let the author or publisher down. I would have such guilt if my review was shorter than 1000 words because I needed to ensure that the authors understood that I took the time to read their novel and tried my absolute best to articulate my thoughts and feelings on this blog.

But what I found was that the more stress I placed on myself to write the ‘perfect’ review, the less I actually enjoyed doing it. Reading books that I needed to review became a dreaded activity. I found myself obsessively reading fanfiction and watching random Kdramas because I just didn’t want to read books. I lost motivation and I just couldn’t deal with the feeling of being overwhelmed with the number of books I had to read and review. When I get overwhelmed, my anxiety literally goes insane. I hide from the world.

That’s not even an exaggeration.

I don’t leave home. I don’t open Twitter. I don’t message anyone back. I just huddle on the couch and become a stressed and anxious bean.

Who drinks heaps of tea.

I’ve realised that this is the way I cope with the overwhelming nature of having to constantly be reading and reviewing and pushing out content. I hide from everything. And this isn’t a particularly healthy habit, is it?

So I thought to myself, what can I do that ensures my mental health is a priority?

Because, this year, that is the priority.


Ways to be less of an anxious bean

Before I start this little section, I just want to emphasise that, in most cases, what works for me may not work for you. But, it’s all about recognising what works for you and helps you.

When I realise I’m in this hurricane of anxiety, at first, I just let myself plummet into the abyss. At that point, I can’t really stop it. All I can do is surrender and then pull the parachute.

This lasts for about a day. I shut off and hide. I have no motivation and I can’t physically pick up a book without wanting to throw it across the room. So I put on a re-run of Criminal Minds or Bones or Numbers, and I just lounge on the couch and I float.

For me, this part is what helps me kick my ass into gear later on. I take some time for me time. I take care in making my earl grey tea, I have some biscuits, I clean my room; I just exist within a space of hazy laziness. Because it’s what I need.

Usually, by the second day, I’m feeling more like myself. Thoughts begin to trickle in about what I need to do and the deadlines I need to meet and the fact that I need to post sometime in the week. So I do something that I’ve always loved, which helps calm me, and that is to make lists.

I write a master list of what I need to accomplish. I mean, this list is huge but this doesn’t overwhelm me, instead it helps me make them into actional goals. I break down my master list into a weekly to-do list and make sure to add household chores I will need to do also (these are easy ones that I can tick off and make myself feel accomplished). For instance, I ask myself what books do I need to read? Reviews or posts to write? Do I need to do uni stuff? Write and answer emails? When I do this, I then look at a week overview and designate days for blog writing, reading and research (for uni). For example, I have designated Monday, Friday and Saturday for blog writing/reading review books with Tuesday as a ‘random choice’ day (so if I’m feeling like watching Kdramas all day, I will do it or if I decide to do research, I’ll do it), Wednesday and Thursdays to university/research. I have found that if I do this, I have a clearcut understanding of how my days are going to look like and it means that I hold myself accountable.

Something that I’ve been doing recently, and something that I’ve gotten better at, is writing up a schedule. At the beginning of the month, I sit down and write the dates I know book reviews that I’ve committed to need to be posted; I then figure out how many times a week I want to post and fill in the gaps with other reviews or posts. That doesn’t mean that I don’t spontaneously write posts that I don’t schedule, I do – this one being evidence to that fact. But I like to have an idea on the content I want to bring out. And this way, I’m not stressing out trying to figure out what to do.

Another way in which to ensure that you’re putting your mental health first, and one that I’ve utterly failed to do in my entire time being a book blogger, is saying no. By this I mean that it is so utterly and completely and absolutely perfectly all right to say no to authors or publicists who approach you to read their novel.

You can say no.

If the book doesn’t seem interesting to you, if your month is pretty busy as it is or if school or uni is kicking you in the ass – you can say no. Authors, publicists and publishers should by now, understand the effort that it takes to read and review a novel. So when I blogger says no, we don’t mean that in a malicious or evil way, it’s literally i have no time at the moment or i’m really sorry but i don’t think i would do your book justice because the premise or genre isn’t something i’m interested in.

I have yet to say no to someone who wants me to review their book. And I’m telling you, don’t do what I have done. January and February have literally been so stressful for me – hence not being active here and on twitter – because there’s always a book I need to read or a review I need to write and I don’t have time for anything else. My mistake was feeling guilty for even thinking of saying no, so I overextended myself. I should have said no or not have volunteered to review some books, for my own mental health. But I think I’m getting pretty organised now, thanks to my little system. So fingers crossed this continues to be true!


What do you guys think? Any tips or tricks to help ensure we take of ourselves whilst book blogging? I would love to hear from you!

That it’s for today, friends! Until next time, happy reading!

All the love,

Allie

xx


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37 thoughts on “Mental Health as a Book Blogger. It ain’t always books and rainbows.

  1. “reading books that I committed myself to review, is so much different than reviewing a book I read and needed to rant or preach about.”

    ugh, yes, I get anxious at the thought of the author reading my review! sometimes I just want to rip something to shreds for the hell of it, buuuut I would cringe in advance and steer clear. I mean, I won’t give a false positive review to a book if I don’t think it deserves it, but sometimes I want to be like ‘wtf was that idiotic plot point’, haha

    “it is so utterly and completely and absolutely perfectly all right to say no to authors or publicists who approach you to read their novel.”

    I WOULD say no, but I had a publisher randomly send me a book and I feel guilty, but I have ZERO interest in reading it. I don’t expect them to cater to my tastes, but I did say my interests are young adult sci-fi/fantasy, contemporary and horror, then I got this angsty historical Russian drama and I just…I cannot bring myself to open it. :/

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  2. Wow Allie, are you me!!??!! You’ve described all the stages so perfectly. Even the list making! Legit. The list making makes me calm down. Although at this point, I don’t even know what’s up with me, I’m reading 20 books at the same time and everything feels like a huge mess, I’m not even sure lists are helping anymore, cause I’ve made like 20 lists as well and find myself pretty much unable to read (I don’t have a lot of review commitments, so it’s probably just collateral damage to the blog from anxiety that comes from elsewhere…)

    Anyway, it’s nice to know that you understand this – it’s always nice to know I’m not alone. Although of course it sucks to know that someone is experiencing anxiety as well! But thanks for this post. I loved it!

    P.S. whoops, I wasn’t following you! That is now fixed 🙂

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  3. That’s a great system! It’s funny though because making a huge master list, like a monthly one, totally makes me anxious, and I won’t be able to do anything. It just goes to show how things that work for one person with anxiety doesn’t work for the next! I usually just skip that step, and go straight to daily lists, lol.

    I’m still trying to find a balance between blogging, reading, and college… This is my last semester, so I’m busy with a whole bunch of stuff. I think I have a pretty good system down now — a planner definitely helps. Also audiobooks.

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  4. Fantastic tips here, thank you! I have been having a few health issues which culminated in hospital and surgery this week. It is the first time that I haven’t posted on my blog for a while and I feel guilty. But I’ve been trying to say no to all but the books that most excite me and focus on reading and reviewing library books or those I already own – this takes the pressure off a lot! Good luck with getting your balance right!

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  5. ‘ I don’t open Twitter. I don’t message anyone back. I just huddle on the couch and become a stressed and anxious bean.

    Who drinks heaps of tea.’

    This is the most relatable couple of sentences I’ve ever read. Thank you for putting your struggle out there in order to raise awareness and help others find something to relate to. It’s hard when your mental health creeps in to taint something you love doing, but this post is amazing evidence that you’re not letting it win!

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  6. Thank you for writing this. I’m a new blogger but I tend to burn out with projects because I don’t practice self-care enough so this was a really enlightening read. It’s also nice to see succumbing to the abyss can be a positive thing – I’ve started to do this since my SAD got worse and ir helps a lot more than forcing myself to focus and making myself worse.

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  7. Allie I can completely relate to all of this! I had so many plans to read all sorts of books and review them on scheduled posts but work and life got in the way. So much so that the pressure I put on myself for reading them actually did the opposite and instead I put off reading any new books for awhile. I’m so glad you’ve taken abit if a break and have come up with ways to take care of yourself so you can start to enjoy it all again! Amazing post lovely 😘 xxx

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  8. Babe, I do the same! It’s usually too much work that puts me off reading and blogging. Because I can’t say no to every review request and can’t schedule for shit, I end up overwhelming myself with the amount of work that has to be done. Right now I’m using a system pretty similar to yours so hopefully it pans out! Take care of yourself, babe! ❤❤

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  9. Such a wonderful post Allie. Heck I only set out to review books that I purchased just like you, and now I have Authors and publishers asking me to review books. I mostly review books if the Author doesn’t have a particular dead-set time on, that way I can take my time reading. Those with time limits I do first, I make sure I don’t have a lot of these. I’m happy to see you’re finding ways to deal with everything better. Continue taking care of yourself.

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  10. Speaking as someone who suffers bipolar type I who also blogs about a variety of things, including occasional book or other reviews I do for personal reasons, you give some great advice.

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  11. So true. Last year it all got too much and I stopped reviewing for a bit. It was nice to just read what I wanted. I was doing really well but ended up with too many books on Netgalley again. Trying to prioritise my own novel too and finding time to do that and read and blog and everything else can be tricky. And not help anxiety. Lists can actually make me stress so… I’m my own enemy no clue

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  12. I’ve never related to a post more! I do the exact same thing when I get super anxious about things. And I had similar thoughts to you about being asked to review things by authors, like they actually wanted me to read and review their book, so how could I say no?? But it is stressful and it does get overwhelming. I find there’s a certain level of guilt that comes from not reviewing quickly as well. I’m so glad that you found something that helps you when you feel anxious (other than Criminal Minds and tea, although that’s not a bad combo!) and it definitely does make it easier when everything is broken down into a more manageable list. What’s helped me this year is I’ve decided to read only four books a month, which includes one ARC. If I manage more than that then it’s great, but at least this way there is no pressure on me to get it done and it’s done wonders for my anxiety and mental health as a result.
    This was a great post – thank you for sharing it! ❤️

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  13. I always used to read about book bloggers being stressed and only really started feeling it in the last year when I decided to be a real blogger I needed to do more posts and be on more tours. It led to lists, deadlines and taking on far too much while dreading books I’d chosen because I knew I’d love them. I totally agree with your post- people have to pace themselves. That being said I’m in awe of the people who thrive under the pressure of it all. I like your idea of a timetable too-is need that in my life!!!

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  14. I think you’re doing the right thing to get through, it has to work for you otherwise you can’t move forward.
    I have a diary just for book reviewing. In the back I list the books that I agree/ want to review with the date that I accepted/ bought/downloaded them. Then I also make a note of the day I plan to post my review. It might be the publishing day or the day of an agreed promo post, or it might be just a planned date I’d like to post by (which can be moveable).
    Then I pencil these dates into the main diary. It works for me.

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  15. Love this post-Allie! I feel the same way, I lose my mojo and so started to take a step back. It can be stressful when I forget that there is a word NO but thankfully I have been using it a lot more lately! Hope you can find a happy medium that keeps you going! xx

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  16. So thoughtful, Allie! I am in the same boat this month and some of the next months because I have hard time saying no, but I’m working on it, too. Thanks for sharing how you are feeling because I know it helped me feel better and I’m sure many others. ♥️

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  17. Such a great post – thanks for sharing.
    I suffer with anxiety, too, and finding the right balances with everything in life can be seriously tough at times! Learning to say no sounds so simple but it’s a really big step and it’ll help so much!

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  18. Wonderful post!
    It took me a while to learn to say no. I was flattered at first (still am!) but too enthusiastic to be realistic about how many books I could commit to reading. Now I’m having this issue with blog tours, so I’m still learning! I’m actually feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the proofs around me that scream to be read! Pressure is hard, we NEED to remember blogging is a hobby and is supposed to make us feel good and happy!

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  19. A really great post that reflects how a lot of bloggers feel at various times. You are so right that being able to say no is really important. It can be very hard when you do really want to participate in a blog tour or request an arc. I always try to keep myself in check as I know I have limited capacity with my health issues, other commitments and not being a particularly fast reader. I am yet to master the list & scheduling but I am really pleased that you have found ways that help you. We all need to be kind to ourselves.

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  20. Great post and one I think we can all relate too only too well. I’d be lost without making lists and also putting publication dates on a calendar so I can see what’s going on! It doesn’t always work but it helps!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES! Sometimes, the only way I work is by deadlines – but I find deadlines for blog tours so extremely stressful! there is so much we need to do by that designated time, that I think it gets underestimated! thank you so much for your comment! xx

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Thank you for sharing, Allie. Book blogging can feel stressful. My way of not stressing about it is to rarely accept books for review, take a step back from my blog if I’m not in the mood for it, and even have a screen-free day occasionally.

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    1. Thank you so so much! I definitely need to do the same, I think. There comes a point where I think that I might need to create a sort of ‘maximum’ of book review requests I take on per month because it can be too much. Screen-free day is something that I definitely need to start doing!! Thank you! xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely… and I don’t accept requests generally, because of the stress.
        Screen-free evening is best when I’ve been on the computer at work all day and my eyes need a break 🙂

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  22. I, too, am a very anxious person. I learned the hard way that books for review stress me out to a point that makes me not want to read ever again. Learning to say no to authors asking me to review their books was a big stepping stone for me even though it started off like a dream come true! I eventually stopped accepting them altogether because of how hard it was to deal with in my head. I also learned that I’m very much a mood reader. If I force myself to read a book I don’t feel like reading no one is going to like the review that comes from that. It’s great that you found a system that works for you! Lists just stress me out even more. What works for me is just letting whatever it is happen in a sense. If I feel like writing 5 posts today I’ll write them. If I feel like procrastinating for a month straight I have enough scheduled posts to deal with that. I just need to take it one day at a time and see what happens. Great post! 🙂

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    1. That’s so true, just letting things happen and how you feel is such a great thing. Sometimes I do feel that my reading or writing is a chore, but that’s when there are bad days. I’m so happy that saying no to authors helped you! I need to actually start doing it in earnest, or else I don’t think I’ll be able to do other things! Sometimes taking it a day at a time is so perfect – maybe when i go back to uni, if I find scheduling stressing me out and deadlines not working, I’ll adopt your system! thank you so so much for your lovely comment! xx

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  23. Such a great post! I’ve had the same pressure but more on making creative Instagram posts. I’ve been careful to keep my book reviewing to a minimum because I know how it can spiral out of control so I only write about titles I either buy myself or gifted books that I really love. And scheduling – definitely! I start to get stressed if I don’t have a list 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you so so much! omg instagram can be so stress inducing so i can completely understand that! yes, i definitely need to make sure that i don’t spiral out of control by controlling the amount of books i review! i really like your system! omg i love lists! haha i don’t know how i would function without one! thank you so much for your lovely comment! xx

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