5 ways to cope with news induced anxiety as a PR
As PRs, it’s our job to keep our fingers on the pulse when it comes to the news. We need to know what’s in the media, what stories are doing well and what the press are covering. We have to surround ourselves with current affairs every single day. Considering how negative the news cycle can be, especially under current circumstances, you can imagine how this can negatively affect our mindsets.
Terrifying news headlines regarding the increasing death rate, the dos and don’ts, and the horror stories of struggling businesses everywhere are incredibly overwhelming. But there’s also the paradox that it’s often in times of crisis PRs are needed the most. Our roles become increasingly important as businesses seek out our advice. So, what happens when media intake is your job, or when there is an expectation to always be ‘on’ to better serve clients and businesses?
It’s true that it can all be a bit much. Especially when a bad news day can often lead to a good work day, or at the very least a busy work day, in our profession. But there are ways to manage. Here are five ways I learned to stop worrying and love the news.
It’s very hard, especially when the stigma around mental health still exists. Not everyone will understand that having a hard day with stress and anxiety can be just as crippling as the flu or a broken leg, but it’s true. If you were physically sick at work, likelihood is you would tell your boss, and so if you happen to be fighting a panic attack at your desk, this is something worth sharing too. Better still, if you can talk to your boss about your situation before problems arise, the hope is that you’ll be able to negotiate a coping strategy if and when it does. Carnsight Founder, Jessica Morgan and I, for example, have an agreement that if I feel panicked or anxious during a client meeting, I have her full permission to make my excuses and step out. She’ll know what’s happened and jump in for me.
Monitor & control your media intake outside of work
It may not necessarily be possible to avoid negative media within working hours, but I can most definitely control what media I consume on my own time. I monitor my social media intake very carefully and keep my work accounts and personal accounts as separate as possible. When working from home, it can be very easy to remove the barrier between work time and home time, but as ever, work-life balance is essential, and this applies to your media intake too. I consume only news that feels relevant and helpful to me on my own time.
Work on developing a sense of professional confidence
It can be very easy when you struggle with stress and anxiety at work to let the anxious feelings get out of control and knock you down. Work to remind yourself that your feelings do not prevent you from being good at your job. You have to work on solidifying the belief in yourself and others, that being honest about your difficulties does not make you unprofessional. On the contrary, it shows dedication, self-awareness and courage. If you are able to perform well in your role, all the while learning to manage your own emotional challenges, it demonstrates that you are an extremely disciplined and hardworking individual. The idea that as PRs we must always be on the case is an unrealistic expectation. We must actively fight this ideal.
Know your limits and develop healthy coping mechanisms
Once again, self-awareness is extremely helpful here. You need to be aware of your own triggers and mindset. This is not to say you have to work through them by yourself, but a positive and proactive mindset makes all the difference. If you can identify times when your mental wellbeing may be at risk, you can know how to start practising coping mechanisms that will allow you space to move forward. If I’m feeling anxious at work, for example, I like to step away from my desk, get some fresh air, and drink an ice-cold glass of water. I’m usually able to get back to work within five to ten minutes of this breather.
Remember you are not alone
Reach out to others. Whether that be seeking professional help or medication, or simply speaking to other professionals within your field, talking to someone gets rid that lonely feeling and grounds you.