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,