In a Beyond Reality collaboration, Sarah Chang, Freelance Line Producer and Co Founder of The Production Portal, has written about her experiences, in a post to shine a light on the realities of burnout in the television industry.

If you work in the television industry, chances are you’ve heard the phrase burnout mentioned before. Having worked in the industry for 13 years, I’ve met a number of people who have been burnt out within their career, in fact, I’m sure we all know someone who has. I never understood the full effect of burnout or at least didn’t know I was burning myself out, until a series of medical concerns arose for me last year. I believe this experience was my body resisting the pressure and strain I was putting it under by telling me to slow down. This health concern is a blessing in disguise for me really, as it now means I set healthier boundaries within my job, to ensure I retain a better work/life balance.

When I researched burnout, I found that burnout has been classified by WHO as an official occupational phenomenon.

“Burnout is a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed,” says WHO. It is characterised by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativity or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy”

Gillezeau, 2019

The question is now that we know burnout exists, how do we stop it from happening to us as individuals? Speaking from my own experience, I guess my journey to pivot burnout started in the very first COVID lock down. Initially, I felt agitated and bored, but soon learnt that this was a perfect time for me to slow down, reflect and reset. I spent the time looking after myself, going to doctor appointments (that I’d usually put off whilst on a production), I meditated regularly, sat with my thoughts, and really grounded my energy. Unfortunately, when the industry opened back up again, and I took on my first contract back, I reverted straight back to my old work habits and worked incessantly in order to make up for lost finances between contracts, until finally my body gave in. 

It’s unfortunate that it took a health scare for me to re-evaluate my work/life imbalances, however, the benefit here is that I am now more conscious of my actions, which means that I am more inclined to stop the cycle a lot sooner, which I would not have done prior to COVID. In fact, since my health scare, I’ve worked hard to rebuild my boundaries with my job, and now as a manager, I aim to drive this mindset of work/life balance and its importance, amongst my team. 

The key takeaway is, burnout is real, so let’s all work smarter, slow down and speak up if you are struggling with your workload or hours. Always know that yes we can have it all and yes we can still have fun! We just need to be conscious of our actions, and set healthy boundaries at work, ensure we set time aside to nurture ourselves. By doing this we’re not only helping ourselves, but we are also assisting those around us.

Sarah Chang

Freelance Line Producer | The Production Portal Co Founder / Change Maker

If you are interested in hearing more, THE PRODUCTION PORTAL recently hosted a webinar titled ‘Shining a Light on Sustainable Work Practices, an Industry Shift’. You can view it HERE.

If you enjoyed this post, you may be interested in the Beyond Reality Podcast, a podcast that explores the world of television production by chatting to the people behind the TV shows you love. You can listen here at Beyond Reality Podcast or look it up on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

IMPORTANT: This post is written from personal experience on the topic of burnout. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. If you are concerned about burnout and need support, you should talk to your doctor.

Support Act provide a free and confidential counselling service through their well-being helpline for the Australian music industry and the arts. Find out more at