8 tips to improve self-care and build resilience from the PRCA's speaker event on mental health in the workplace.
This week, I attended a PRCA event entitled “Tackling the Elephant: How to stay sane when you work in comms”. The evening, hosted by Edelman, comes after PR was ranked as the 8th most stressful job in 2018 and a recent FuturePRoof report which found mental illness is routinely treated as a performance issue in the PR industry.
It was refreshing, then, to see mental health discussed openly in front of a packed audience of practitioners. Tickets for the event were sold out days in advance. When asked if we’d felt stressed at work over the last week, nearly every hand in the room went up. With one in six PRs living with a mental health condition, there was no shortage of practitioners hoping to unlock the ‘secret’ to staying sane in a stressful environment.
But there is no silver bullet. Everyone has mental health and understanding this is the first step on the journey to destigmatise mental illness in the workplace. A journey on which the PR industry has a long way to go.
The guest speakers, however, did impart a number useful tips for better wellbeing in the workplace...
1. Five ways to wellbeing
Just as our body needs its recommended five fruit and veg a day to stay healthy, our mind can benefit from positive daily behaviours too. The New Economics Foundation (NEF) sets out five actions to improve wellbeing: Connect. Be active. Take notice. Keep learning. Give.
2. Refresh your to-do list
Whether you’re a Todoist, Trello fiend or prefer a good old pen and paper, refresh your to-do list at the end of the day to help declutter your mind before leaving work. Not only is this a positive way to remind yourself what you achieve each day, but cuts down on those late-night ‘emails to self’ too. We’ve all done it.
3. Switch off
Working in an ‘always-on' industry, Dr Kevin Teoh encouraged us to ask ourselves if we control the tech in our lives or if it controls us. Making a conscious effort to unplug is hard in today’s digital world, but try picking up a book the next time you feel yourself reaching for the blue light.
4. Ditch ‘al desko’ lunches
When you have a to-do list as long as your arm it’s tempting to work through your lunch break in a bid to box off a few more items. But ditch al desko for a lunchtime stroll and you’ll feel re-energised ahead of a busy afternoon.
"Your brain at positive is 31% more productive than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed." ~ Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage
5. Learn to say no
The long hours’ culture in PR can be toxic, both for your wellbeing and productivity. Learning to say no is an important step in teaching yourself and others to value your time. As Jane Fordham advised, instead of peddling harder for longer set clear boundaries to offset mental fatigue.
6. Rate your mood in the morning
A simple way to take stock of your wellbeing is to rate your mood every morning. Give yourself a score out of ten and if you’re feeling lower than usual, think about the steps you can take using the five ways to wellbeing.
7. Make a Wellness Recovery Action Plan
For those living with a diagnosed mental illness, developing a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) for the workplace can help employers identify your triggers and let colleagues know when you’re not ok. Sadly, this is a huge leap for an industry in which discussing mental illness with a line manager is often unthinkable. It’s vital, however, if we’re serious about changing the perception of mental illness as a performance issue.
8. Keep the conversation going
Wednesday’s event was a call to action for practitioners to take the conversation around mental health into their own workplaces. So, please, keep the conversation going your own business and ask twice the next time you say “How are you?” to a colleague.
Want to share your thoughts on any of the above? I’m always interested to hear feedback on the blog so please get in touch via the comments section below, email me at clairesimpsonpr [at] outlook [dot] com or drop me a line on social media.