PR is a stressful field. But how we deal with that stress is up to us. How much I let it get to me is up to me. I can only control how I react to a certain situation that can either hinder or enhance mental wellness. Over the years, I have delved into my own communication with self as much as communication with others and put together 10 best practices that have helped me managed good mental health for myself and my team:
Positive News: As PR professionals we consume so much news in various forms that it can get overwhelming. Given today’s circumstances it is also bound to add a melancholic touch of anxiety. This could happen to any consumer of news, but for PR professionals it goes to a different height considering the consumption volumes. So, every day after media tracking, pick up one positive news piece to read, view or discuss. It gives hope and restores a tiny bit of faith back in humanity. Personally, I have bookmarked a few pages on my browser that I go to everyday for my dose of positivity. Hope is powerful.
Alone Time: There are just so many demands on our time professionally and we are always juggling so many balls up in the air on a daily basis. Now that we are all working from home, the demands from personal life overlap to add more stress to it. On regular days, I would look at commuting time as me-time. One where I would put on my headphones and disappear into the music and my own thoughts. That is not possible anymore. So, getting up an hour earlier is a good solution that has worked for me. Me, sunshine and a strong cup of coffee on my balcony for an hour of doing nothing. And no phones allowed. Value the sound of silence.
De-clutter: Overlapping of work and personal life with blurred and sometimes no boundaries is exhausting and mentally draining. I hear of so many of my friends who work till wee hours in the morning. Not because they must but just because they can. Without realizing it, it drains you mentally, physically and emotionally leaving behind a brain-fogged pile of bones and flesh that is ready to drop. De-clutter your day and separate personal and professional. Create a routine and stick to it. I have found that writing a list of to-do things, reviewing and prioritizing it every couple of hours and striking off completed tasks helps keep a check on the time I spend on work. Knowing that I have achieved a set list of tasks everyday helps me manage anxiety and stress.
Social Media: Limit the time you spend on social media. Apart from all the time we spend on news collation and consumption, social media can suck you into a bottomless vortex if you are not careful. In PR, we use it for our daily work to create and manage influence. But we have to be extremely careful that it doesn’t take over our lives. It is a powerful tool and while I believe it can be a force for good, too much of anything is bad. Set a time limit for the amount of time you spend on social media and you will see the difference it makes to your anxiety levels.
Speak to Someone: With a million things up in the air, the wheels in my mind churning even during sleep along with so much of uncertainty that is beyond our control with media and client and throw in the pandemic situation, it can get stressful and leave you with a feeling of helplessness that will add to anxiety. Find one person in your life who you can speak to about these things. It might not help solve the work issue but will help you sort out through your thoughts and get a grip on what is solvable. I have identified a few people in my work life who I can speak to on a daily basis to discuss work issues who help me sort through the heap in front and inspire me to find practical solutions to it.
Learn to Say No: This is probably one of the most difficult things to do. But walking away from clients, colleagues, peers, employees, juniors, business partners, stories, media that are not meant for me, have been one of the sanest things I have done for my mental health in the last decade.
Make Healthy Choices: You will hear this often enough in your life, but it truly works. Taking time to make that healthy meal, exercise and meditate helps you release good hormones that do wonders for your mental wellness. Reading instead of binge watching while scrolling through your phone, choosing simple home cooked khichdi you made yourself over a pizza, playing with your dog/ cat instead of a video game or simply catching up with someone on a video call with no distractions will do more wonders for you than trying to multitask where your overall health is concerned. And yes, less coffee.
Connect: With so many calls, mails and webinars, the brain can sometimes go on a fritz. So much so that you want to lock the phone and throw away your laptop and not speak to anyone for a week. Well, in PR that is not possible. Every day do one thing that helps you connect with your creativity. Re-potting plants in the garden, drawing a doodle, coloring a mandala, crocheting a piece, baking a cupcake, hammering a piece of wood, or making a collage. Anything that allows you to connect with your creative side. And ‘no’ you do not need to put them on social media. I have found this extremely helpful in helping me calm down after a stressful day.
Dealing with Negativity: While my work in PR brings me a lot of joy, it can also bring in a lot of negativity that can add to the anxiety and stress levels. There was a point where I used to internalize this negativity to the point of full-blown migraines. It is rightly said, I can only control how I react in a situation and this has formed the basis of many a PR plan and crisis response that I have successfully managed. I started applying that in my personal life as well giving my mind, body and soul the much-needed relief. It also helps to get your team together and discuss all possible pitfalls and how we could avoid them. Inculcate practices and processes in your team that avoid these typical pitfalls till it becomes a habit reducing errors on my end.
Meditate: 10 minutes of meditation at any point in the day helps me find my center. I usually plan this first thing in the morning or just before going to sleep. Pick any soothing music, close your eyes and let your thoughts drift away. There are a lot of guided meditation tapes also available. It takes practice but once you know how, you can train your brain to let go , understand what is in your control and what you cannot control helping you manage the day with calm.
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About Nucleus PR
The 12-year old firm has clients across multiple verticals. With an already established presence in 4 major metros, they have successfully created a strong affiliate network across 88 towns across the country via a team of trusted professional experts. With its inclusion in the exclusive and prestigious worldwide collaborative network of PR firms – PRBI Boutiques International, it adds brilliant minds from over 40 agencies across 14 countries to their resource pool. As the first members from the Asian sub-continent, they represent the entire region in the prestigious international PR network. Their current portfolio includes entertainment, lifestyle, media, hospitality and corporate clients across MNCs, SMEs, and Startups.