It’s a truth that PR is stressful. So we asked members of the new Public Sector Comms Headspace Facebook group how they coped with that. The answers may astound you.
By Dan Slee
It’s clear that communications and PR is a stressful business but how do you cope?
For people working in the public sector, recent CIPR findings of falling budgets and stress came as no surprise.
But that’s not where the story ends. Coping strategies and ways to cope are as fundamental as being able to write a tweet or plan a campaign.
Here are a few ways people from the Public Sector Comms Headspace Facebook group kick their shoes off.
There’s taking up a hobby, exercise, sharing a trouble and also perhaps most importantly… speaking out.
I run – Faye Galvin.
Swimming – Ben Solley
Running. I often leave the office feeling stressed out but, by the time I’ve run home, my head is usually much clearer and I’ve mentally left the office behind. – Jeni Harvey.
Going out for a run in the evening also makes me less likely to work in the evenings, which on reflection I don’t really and shouldn’t have to do – Mike Carhart-Harris.
Getting on my bike – whether it’s pushing really hard and coming back knackered & full of endorphins, or pootling down the towpath watching ducks. – John Morrissy.
My tool box is running and exercise including yoga. Joy Hale.
When it’s hitting me hard I go to the coast, stare out to sea and walk like hell. There’s something about the endless briny deep, the openness and far-off horizon that gives me a clear sense of space and triggers an almost-like spiritual peace. Great for me here in Devon but perhaps not easy if you live in somewhere like Wolverhampton. – Emma Pearcy
Walking the dog – mainly over the heath close to where I live – gives me time to think things through. – Sara Hamilton.
Cultivate a sense of perspective
It has taken me a long time (nearly 20 years in LG comms) to appreciate that what I can do *can* make a difference. That makes it easier to put it to one side at the end of the working week and relax. The fact that I will be on enforced leave for a bit after an operation next week also helps. – Mary Willis.
Definitely remembering not to take it all too seriously – or rather to get too emotionally caught up in it – Louise Gibson
Lately I had a total lightbulb moment when I realised whatever you do it’s never going to be enough. As a press officer you’re constantly dealing with narcissists who want more, more, more no matter how much you give. – Anonymous.
I’m with the ‘does it really matter?’ mantra. I recently have become a panel member for Children’s Hearings Scotland and it has given me a huge sense of perspective when looking at my job and life. – Wendy Rizza.
Switch off the tech
Work kills people, it’s a dangerous business! Nothing is worth giving yourself a heart attack so be sensible, take leave and switch off (mentally and tech) when you are not in work mode. Oh, and keep your sense of humour. – Melanie Baker.
Share the pain
Look for advice or support. A problem shared is a problem halved and all that. I run and I craft. Running clears the cobwebs, crafting takes all your focus, giving your brain a rest – Rosie Evans.
I’m starting to develop good peer support at work – colleagues from other departments – and it’s nice to be able to share what’s worrying me and hear from people from non-comms roles. – Shayoni Sarker-Lynn
Patrick Fletcher Biscuits. Diverse, friendly and supportive small comms team who understand each other’s stresses, have got each other’s backs, recognise each other’s successes and don’t do blame. But mainly tea and biscuits.
Having children forces you to forget work
Having kids made me cut the extra hours I was putting in at work. I HAVE to leave at 5pm to collect them. Sometimes this can cause more stress but with a supportive management team that appreciates there are only so many hours in the day it helps.
An end-of-day to-do list to help you switch off
Some things that work well for me: Write a paper to-do list every morning before turning on your laptop/reading your emails so that *you* are in control and setting your agenda for the day, rather than the people in your inbox – Hayley Douglas
Use all of your leave, and take some whole weeks off not just lots of long weekends – so you have a chance to properly switch off. Consider taking a week off just to be at home and rest, without planning too many activities. – Helen Kitley.
Spend time in something you love which for me is with my horse. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. – Amanda Coleman.
Choir – singing is good for the soul and a great social and collaborative activity. – Sally Northeast.
I cope by only working two days a week in a jobshare – it really is one of the benefits. Fewer hours, less stress, someone to share the "WTAF" moments with. – Kelly Quigley-Hicks
An online tool
This really sorted out my chaos: https://uk.bestself.co/ – Clare Parker
A bullet journal – Beckidy Squeak Smith
Another one I’d forgotten about – create a category for positive feedback and categorise positive emails you receive with people thanking you for your work in this category – then when you’re having an off day you can take a look at all the nice things people have said to cheer you up. – Helen Kitley.
Listen to downloads
I downloaded a heap of Desert Island Discs podcasts and listen to them when I need to switch off. The combo of that nostalgic theme tune, Kirsty Young’s voice and the sometimes witty guests does it for me. Total escape for 20 mins or so. – Janet Harkin
Even though my job is pretty much writing, I can go home, take myself into a different world and write about that. It’s very therapeutic and it reminds me I’m actually quite good even if some days nobody at work thinks I am. – Rachel King.
Recently I was feeling overwhelmed by the amount of individual projects I had on, so I decided to speak to my boss about it. I made a list of all the things I was trying to work on and then some possible solutions so I wasn’t just going to them with a problem. Even just talking it through helped and was a weight off my shoulders. There’s no shame in admitting you’re struggling to cope – better that than waiting until it’s too late and you’re toppled by the stress.. – Charlotte Parker
Dan Slee is co-founder of comms2point0.
Picture credit: LSE / Flickr