Combating Burnout: Essential Self-Care Practices for Game Creators

Mega Cat Studios
4 min readFeb 22, 2024

Ever feel unmotivated? work not feeling fulfilling or interesting? If life’s got you down, and you’ve been working long hours with no rest/ or relaxation, you might just be suffering from burnout.

Burnout might seem trivial, but it can seriously affect your life if you’re not careful. Untreated, it can affect your productivity and relationships with others and even develop into more dangerous conditions.

Image courtesy of Kamran Aydinov via Freepik

For anyone looking to live a healthy, fulfilling life, it’s best to avoid burning out when possible. But how do you counteract something as arbitrary as a negative state of mind?

1) Identify the Symptoms

The first step is always to remember the symptoms. To counteract the effects of burnout, you have to know you’re suffering from burnout.

Common things to watch for are signs of irritability and the presence of a short temper. The inability to focus on tasks and a general lack of interest are also possible symptoms. Additionally, things like listlessness, anger, and insomnia are also common issues that arise from burnout.

If someone’s frequently overworked, chances are they’ll develop these traits. If they’re suffering from the effects of stress, they might just need a break before their psyche breaks.

2) Prioritize Self-Care / Relax and De-stress

Now that we know the symptoms of burnout, how do we stop it?

The simplest way to do that is to make self-recovery the primary goal. If you realize you’re burnt out, focus on self-care and give yourself an avenue to relax. Play some games if you enjoy it. If you enjoy something retro, why not try your hand at Mega Cat’s own Renfield: Bring Your Own Blood, and hack, slash, and fight your woes away? If you prefer some strategy gaming instead, maybe some play some Age of Empires instead.

Renfield: Bring Your Own Blood

Not a fan of those? Why not read a book or watch a movie? Spend some time with your loved ones while you’re at it. The specific activity isn’t important. What’s important is identifying what activities you enjoy and doing your best to relax. This may seem like a simple thing, but it does go a long way toward calming your mind and getting that fire back in your belly.

3) Avoid Prolonged Exposure to Possible Stressors

Another way to prevent it is to avoid the things that irritate or stress you out when you can. While it is impossible to avoid being annoyed, there’s no reason to go out of your way to seek it out.

Image courtesy of Christian Erfurt via Unsplash

Identify what things trigger negative emotions in you, and find ways to reduce exposure to them. The last thing anyone wants to do is work in an environment that causes them irritation, especially if you’re already feeling the beginning effects of burnout. Reduce the time you spend around these negative influences.

4) Learn To Pace Yourself

Also, remember that avoiding burnout means learning how to pace yourself. burnout doesn’t happen just because people get annoyed — it also happens if the workload gets to be too much. If you try to do too many things at any one time, you’ll end up doing none of them, leaving you frustrated and annoyed.

Image courtesy of Brett Jordan via Unsplash

While it may be tempting to do the lion’s share of work, remember, you’re just one person. Don’t carry the entire world’s weights on your shoulders, or else you might find your knees buckling.

5) Find a Change in Perspective

If you can’t alter your environment, change how you react to it! This is a more drastic method, but a change of perspective can often give new insight into how to deal with problems.

You can’t change everything about your environment, but you can make it easier for yourself by learning how to respond to things in a more productive way.

6) Change Up Your Schedule! New Routine, New Life!

If all else fails, there’s nothing a change of routine can’t fix. A lot of the time, burnout remains rooted in the monotony of the familiar. By changing your schedule, you give yourself a chance to experience new perspectives and, hopefully, a way to change your attitude.

Image courtesy of Estée Jansen via Unsplash

Burnout is an inevitability if you’re not careful. Game development is tough, and frustration may seem inevitable when you’re in the middle of a crunch. Don’t let it get to you, and take it one day at a time. The fire in you may sputter, but don’t let it die. These issues are just small stumbling blocks that you’ll get past.

We at Mega Cat Studios know firsthand how frustrating game development can get. If things seem extra frustrating as of late, drop by our Discord, and we’ll be happy to recommend more ways to get over this slump.

This article was written by Alexander Cuaycong.

Originally published at https://megacatstudios.com on February 22, 2024.

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Mega Cat Studios

Mega Cat Studios is a creative first company based out of Pittsburgh, PA. We love creating games. From retro cartridges to PC & VR, come play with us.