While the PR and comms industry is working hard to better support the mental health of practitioners, we can probably all do with more of a boost. Here are some extra ideas for maintaining your wellbeing from a fellow PR, an HR expert and a fitness aficionado.
Pointers from a PR peer: Natalie Trice, author, PR director, career coach
‘Clients, bosses, journalists, colleagues, KPIs and deadlines, is it any wonder that Blue Monday resonates with those working in the PR industry? Add in family commitments, skyrocketing energy prices and Covid and you might want to crawl back into bed and hide under the duvet, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
‘One way to help keep your mood in check is to have a routine that you stick to. Whether you are back in the office or working from home, set your alarm, get up, get showered and get ready for the day ahead. Have a start time, planned breaks, get away from your desk at lunchtime – ideally outside – and set a finish time. This isn’t always possible but long days, sat at your desk, with no fresh air and eating junk food, washed down with gallons of coffee, will not do your mental or physical health any good. These are the foundations for new boundaries and if you block out time in the diary, be strict about saying yes, when you mean no, and are kind to yourself, as well as others, you can start to feel more energised and less blue.
‘Getting away from your desk at least once a day can really help you to not only soak up some vitamin D but blow away the cobwebs, step away from any tricky situations and just let things go for a little while. A walk in the park, a run by the river, a quick bike ride or even lunch with a friend on a bench can be really beneficial for your mood. Block out that time in your calendar as busy so no meetings pop up, grab your coat and feel your shoulders loosen and the tension in your neck release, and remind yourself that you matter as much as that press release with 25 tracked changes that needs “urgent attention”.’
Resources from Human Resources: Access Intelligence’s Head of HR Kate Fraser
‘At Access Intelligence, we’ve been working to normalise conversations about mental wellbeing. As many as 1 in 6 of us experience common mental health issues every week – our mental health is sacred and needs to be nurtured just as much, if not more, than our physical wellbeing.
‘Our own Wellness Manager is both a body transformation coach and a behavioural change specialist and a trauma-informed coach who is aware that focusing on physical fitness is not the complete solution to wellness. She stresses that to achieve long lasting results we may need to change behaviours that often exist as coping mechanisms wired into our brains from childhood and supports us by integrating neuroscience, fitness and holistic approaches to wellbeing and providing an empathic, trauma-informed service (as well as making us sweat in her HITT classes!).
‘Over the past two years of homeworking and Covid travel restrictions, it’s important to retain a distinction between work and home and of taking holiday at intervals over the holiday year. We have seen how important it is to plan regular mental breaks from work, even as we have seen benefits from homeworking.’
Wisdom from a wellness expert: Roxy Danae, Wellness Manager at Access Intelligence
‘It’s so important to value our mental health in the same way as we value our physical wellbeing. Depression, stress and anxiety will affect all of us in varying degrees throughout our lives.
‘Respected clinicians like Gabor Mate say we are experiencing collective trauma with increased levels of substance abuse, dependence on anti-depressants and addictions to things like social media, work and consumerism. It’s no wonder, in the dead of January, post-festivities and half a month in to the ‘new year, new me’ cliche we may be experiencing signs and symptoms of low mood, anxiety and a lack of motivation. What can you do to start the new year feeling as good as you possibly can?
‘1. Find a somatic therapy and do your research. Somatic therapies are about connecting to the body’s innate intelligence. We are so in our own heads, we often dismiss our own intuition or can’t recognise it. Our minds do the decision making for us but actually, it’s our bodies that know best. We just don’t know how to tune in. Somatic therapies include breathwork, somatic experiencing, sound healing, Kambô, ecstatic dancing and movement, meditation and Yoga amongst others.
‘2. Give yourself the ultimate gift of self-love by doing ‘the work’. Did you know that suffering from anxiety is usually a result of us not dealing with underlying problems in our life? By finally opening that Pandora’s box we can finally get to know and understand ourselves, understand our triggers, our trauma, what’s holding us back and what we can do to live the very best version of our lives. I’ve encouraged many of my clients and friends to pick up the amazing book, ‘How to do the Work’ by The Holistic Psychologist Dr Nicole LePera.
‘3. Set an intention for yourself. Just one. And it doesn’t have to be overcomplicated, in fact it needs to be simple. ‘My intention this year is to work on my negative self talk,’ or ‘my intention this year is to feel stronger in my body.’ Once you have the intention you can put small steps in place to achieve it. Those who overpromise, set themselves up for disappointment. Be kind to your future self; a phrase I always ask people to consider before setting goals and intentions.’
Looking out for the mental wellbeing of your colleagues and employees can help take the blue filter off of the day-to-day – here are just some industry initiatives helping to support mental wellbeing in PR and comms.