By Leah Henderson, Intern
On the bus home from work last week, nearing my stop, I realized I had spent the whole ride thinking about how hard it must be to drive a bus in the city. Every time the bus driver had to merge, inch their way between vehicles, quickly stop, etc., I thought about what the driver was feeling. I had to laugh at myself when I looked around at everyone content in their habituated bubble quietly reading, listening to music, or scrolling through social media while I was there on the edge of my seat, heart racing, staring intently at the driver. It really put into perspective my tendency to take on the emotions around me, which can pose a challenge when my environment becomes stressful. Because of this disposition of mine, I have picked up some great tools to manage these kinds of stressful, anxiety-inducing emotions. And because of the high-stress nature that the public relations industry is known for, I think PR professionals could really benefit from these tools too.
So, here are my top tips on how to remain calm, cool, and collected in the crazy world that is PR.
Practice Being a Neutral Observer of Yourself
This is sort of a fancy way of saying to practice mindfulness. I like this phrasing though because of the emphasis on being a neutral observer. The first step in settling your uneasy feelings is noticing you are having them in the first place. Once you have an awareness of how you are reacting, you can learn to alter your reactions and perception of the situation. Being neutral in your self observance means being able to notice you are having unfavorable emotions without getting frustrated with yourself for having them. When I noticed myself taking on unfavorable emotions on the bus, my first reaction was to laugh and let the emotions pass, which meant I was able to then change my behavior instead of sitting with the adverse emotions and continuing to let them control me. You can start by asking yourself, ”Does it really make sense for me to be putting my energy here?” and “Could I be putting my energy elsewhere that could be more beneficial?”
Take Care of Yourself at Home
I think most PR professionals are pretty good at making lists and managing deadlines, not taking their work too personally, problem solving, etc., to manage stress in the workplace. Where we might really benefit is what we do outside of work. The first and most obvious places to start – getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating well – are so often overlooked. If you’re feeling off your A-game, ask yourself, “Have I gotten enough sleep? Have I moved my body? Have I consumed nourishing food?” While these are very basic human needs, they are so easy to skip out on because it is not always easy to prioritize yourself. Remind yourself that when you put yourself first, you can then be your best self for those around you. There is absolutely nothing “selfish” about that!
Seek Out Inspiration, Avoid What Does Not Inspire
I find this to be the hardest tip to follow because it’s not as straightforward. You really have to be honest with yourself and figure out what this means for you. To me, seeking inspiration means getting out of the city and submerging myself in nature often, surrounding myself with uplifting people, keeping a daily yoga practice, making the time to read, and making art (even though I am bad at it). Avoiding what does not inspire means limiting my screen time after work, unapologetically removing people from my life (in real life and online) that make me question my self-worth, and sometimes the simple act of getting my butt out of bed on the weekends. I find it helps to focus on how good I know I will feel during/after I do what inspires and how bad I know I will feel after subjecting myself to behavior that does the opposite. That being said, at the end of the day, I think we all need a reminder to go easy on ourselves; we don’t need to be “productive” all the time and a cheesy romcom or a night out with your friends is different than endlessly scrolling through social media or binging on an entire season of Friends in one night.
These tips are easier said than done. I still work on them daily. And yes, they are more or less attainable depending on life circumstances. For instance, getting enough sleep is a little easier when you don’t have kids. Having said that, it’s not about being perfect, but rather about trying your best, showing up for yourself and others, and developing a deeper understanding of what you need in life.