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Any job can be stressful, and jobs that involve long hours and a high degree of responsibility can be particularly tough. When stress is experienced for a prolonged period, it can result in anxiety, depression, and a range of other physical and mental conditions, including insomnia, back pain, digestive problems, headaches, and high blood pressure – to name a few. It can also filter through to our family lives in the form of unnecessary irritability, tiredness, and other issues.
Stress is a growing epidemic. While stress is a normal part of life, coronavirus, financial worries, and global uncertainty mean that two out of three Americans say they feel overwhelmed by the multiple issues facing them.
Work is already a common source of problems, with over 60 percent of people saying they are prepared to quit their jobs due to work-related stress. In the crypto space, where the demands on you just never seem to stop, the risk of burnout and health problems are particularly high.
The Web3 Rollercoaster
Life in the Web3 world is 24/7/365. Crypto is a global phenomenon, with active communities scattered all around the world, and in constant communication via Telegram, Discord, Twitter, and a large number of other popular social media platforms (now including Threads).
The markets never rest. Unlike TradFi, there are no times when exchanges are closed. It’s possible to trade BTC and hundreds of other digital assets whenever you want, at any time of day or night, even at Christmas and on public holidays. Volatility is always a possibility, and often a probability.
What’s more, the space moves fast. Really fast. There are always new developments – new protocols launching, new ideas being discussed, new projects debuting, significant market movements, major hacks and scams, political and regulatory news and updates, and more.
It never stops, any of it.
Thanks to the full-throttle nature of crypto, the sector can be incredibly exciting. There’s never a dull moment, and always something to do or something new to learn. You’ll never be bored. There are many opportunities, many jobs, and many career paths. You’ll strike up close friendships with like-minded people working towards the same goals. Web3 can be incredibly rewarding – financially and personally.
At the same time, it can be exhausting. The urge to follow an ever-growing list of projects and stories can sap users’ time and energy. It can even become addictive, making it difficult to switch off mentally. Crypto trading addiction has become a recognised phenomenon, but for far more Web3 workers and users, the problem is simply the compulsion to keep up-to-date with everything that is going on.
In a world that is already hyper-connected thanks to high-speed internet, smartphones and social media, the crypto sector provides a relentless stream of content and the digital equivalent of a constant nagging tug at your sleeve – risking distracting users from everything else and sucking them down a deep rabbit hole.
If you’ve been active in the Web3 space for any amount of time, you’ve likely seen some of the highs and lows that the crypto world has to offer. A few of the specific risks you will either have experienced yourself or witnessed in others include:
- FOMO. “Fear of missing out” is a real problem in the financial markets, where traders can jump into a new coin just because it’s trending higher, without doing any due diligence, for fear of missing out on making a profit (and, as a result, often getting burned when the market turns against them). But FOMO in Web3 is also about feeling left out of the biggest developments, missing out on being part of a fast-moving new project or up-coming new community. The problem is, it’s impossible to research every opportunity well enough to make an informed decision.
- Burnout. Trying to keep up with all the developments in the Web3 space is exhausting. There’s always something new, no matter what time of day it is – meaning that late at night, early in the morning, and at every point in between, there will be the urge to check in and see what’s going on. Moreover, Web3 can take its emotional toll. Watching your portfolio (and often net worth) fluctuate violently in value, dealing with setbacks, fear-mongering and FUD, trolls and constant demands from community members is tough. It’s only sustainable for so long. Crypto burnout is a very common problem – even for CEOs and project founders.
- ‘Comparisonitis’. Theodore Roosevelt once wrote, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’. Crypto Twitter is full of influencers and gurus with carefully-curated feeds, advertising a lifestyle that most people can only dream about. It can be all too easy to compare ourselves to others, looking at the financial and personal gains they have made and feeling like we’ve lost out. Whatever achievements we have made can seem small when viewed next to these ‘winners’.
- Feeling left behind. Similarly, there may be pressure to have gone further and done better in our chosen field. Whether financially, in terms of career progression, the level of knowledge we have built up, or many other areas, it can seem like we have not made the most of our time in Web3. Surely, after so many months or years, we should be experts in Solidity, have become a successful project founder, or have built up the capital to retire early?
Emotionally, Web3 can be brutal. While the answer may be to take a break for a while if you’re already close to burnout, prevention is always better than cure. With a little planning and discipline, you can make sure you avoid the worst of the downsides of Web3, meaning you’re in a better position to enjoy the benefits and take the wins when it’s time.
Establishing Healthy Routines
One of the toughest and most unhealthy aspects of Web3 is the schedule it seeks to impose on you. The 24/7 nature of the space, and the fact that there are communities active around the world in every timezone, means there is always something to do or see. Many people find themselves effectively working 16-hour days. When they do take a break, work is right there in the back of their mind, and at their fingertips thanks to the Telegram and Discord apps installed on their smartphones. Crypto can bleed into every other area of life – something you’ll want to avoid if YGMI.
The first step to doing that is to establish some healthy routines. These are a kind of framework for your life in Web3. Not to say you can’t ever break these rules – flexibility is also important – but they’re guidelines you put in place for a reason.
- Sleep. Most healthy adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. Get less than this on a regular basis, and you’ll build up a deficit. Sleep deprivation has a range of unpleasant effects, including a loss of cognitive performance (kind of important if you want to operate at the top of your game), loss of concentration and irritability. TL;DR ring fence your sleep patterns.
- ‘Touch grass.’ In other words, step away from your laptop, take a break, get outside, breathe fresh air, and feel the sun on your face. Web3 will still be there when you get back. Weekends are the obvious time to do this.
- Meet people in real life (IRL). It can seem like there’s always a reason to stay chained to your computer or phone: your job, trading, a big NFT mint, breaking news and developing situations, conversations with colleagues and online friends, and more. But maintaining relationships outside of crypto is vital for staying healthy. It’s good to have friends, online and offline, who can relate to your life in Web3 and the unique challenges it brings, but it’s equally important to stay in touch with people who don’t know (and, bizarrely, don’t care) about crypto. They’ll help you keep some perspective about life.
- Get out and attend IRL events (and not just crypto conferences and meetups). Concerts, parties, family occasions – and if there isn’t one scheduled, think about organising one yourself.
Build Good Habits
Within that framework, build in regular habits. These are typically small things that won’t seem like a big deal when you start skipping them – but altogether they make a huge difference to your mental and emotional health.
- Exercise. Even if it’s something relatively low-key, like walking, it’s good to get moving and use your body, and give your mind a chance to wander rather than focusing on a task on a screen. Do this on a regular basis, ideally carving out time to decompress every day – on a coffee or lunch break, for example. If you like going to the gym, running, playing team sports, and so on, then so much the better.
- Drink plenty (of water). Dehydration will increase fatigue and damage concentration. Avoid the sugary, caffeinated drinks and just go for the original solution to feeling thirsty. Your body will thank you.
- Eat healthy. Similarly, when you’re working all hours, it can be tempting to reach for the snacks and takeaways rather than take the time to cook from scratch. Again, this isn’t sustainable. Figure out some healthy snacks and meals that are fast, filling, but good for you.
- Leave the screens. So often, we spend all our working day staring at screens, and then relax by… staring at screens some more. While there’s nothing wrong with playing some video games and watching TV, it’s also good to shift away from screens entirely. Read a book (yes, it is different – screens make your eyes work harder), or listen to a podcast for a change.
- Set boundaries. Decide what hours it’s reasonable for you to work, and then stick to them. Focusing your time on fixed hours motivates you to work productively in this time, and then be able to enjoy the rest of the day guilt-free. You may need to discuss working hours with your boss, especially if you’re in a different time zone. It’s a conversation worth having earlier rather than later so you don’t end up setting expectations you later have to change.
- Find a passion outside of Web3. Sport, cooking, woodwork, hiking… it doesn’t matter, but it should be something that allows you to focus completely on something other than work.
Disconnect To Reconnect
Even when you’re not at your desk, a part of you will probably be ‘at work’ and connected to your job and team via your phone. When you’re taking a break, mute notifications for a while so you really do get some proper time out, without being constantly bombarded by messages. Resist the impulse to check Twitter. It can live without you for a few hours.
When you spend time in the real world (aka ‘meatspace’), give those people your full attention. There’s a saying that ‘time is the currency of relationships’, and that means quality as well as quantity of time. You will never get the chance to spend those hours with family and friends again.
None of this is rocket science. Most people understand what they need to do to protect themselves, their family and relationships from the occasional dark side of a career in Web3. And, of course, there will be times when you do need to be on duty and able to check in with work and the crypto world. That’s fine. But the reality is that a lot of the time, we do that because of habit, not necessity, and it’s not always healthy. In the worst cases, it borders on an obsession.
Generally speaking, other people will recognise the need to establish good habits and draw healthy boundaries. They may even be grateful to you for setting the example, and allowing them to do the same.