Self-Care for PR Professionals (or Anyone Else) During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Self-care is important. Many public relations professionals I know have been scrambling for the last couple of weeks and very busy working to issue information about how their organizations or businesses are being affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. Many are now working from home and juggling family responsibilities while trying to keep up with conference calls, rethink social media strategies, practicing social distancing, and guiding their organizations and businesses through turbulent times.
How can a busy communicator (or anyone for that matter) engage in self-care, when so much is being thrown at him or her? Yes, you should be following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) if you are in the United States and your local government authorities, but how do you really care for yourself in such a stressful time? Here are some tips to help:
Be intentional. Every morning when I get up, I make a point of saying to myself as I get out of bed and set my feet on the floor, that I accept this day and what it brings. It literally takes seconds to do, but it’s an important part of my daily routine.
Change up your schedule if that helps. I get more stressed out trying to write and focus on heavy duty communications work when kids are awake and needing attention. Getting up early – so I can knock out important client work and writing, makes a huge difference in my outlook for the day, because by the time they get up, I’ve already cleared some items on my list. Yes, that means I need to get to bed earlier the night before (not easy) but getting more sleep also means that I am not as stressed.
Connect with others by phone or text outside your home. It doesn’t have to be another PR person who can commiserate with you necessarily, but just someone you want to talk to. Call a friend, a relative, or someone else just to check on them and talk about how things are going.
Be willing to let some things slide. Do I want a blanket fort in my dining room for say, 3 days? Not really. But if it makes my daughter happy and keeps her occupied and imagining something (instead of watching TV), I’m ok with it. Letting a few things go is not the end of the world – it is simply surviving the world we are in right now.
Prioritize your own self-care. If you are a parent or a caregiver for someone else, you may tend to put your own needs last. This is not the time for that. You will be a better, more present and more engaged caregiver or parent if you can take care of yourself.
Limit your media exposure where possible. Admittedly if you work in PR, you are probably trying to keep up with news developments all the time. But the volume of news coming out can be overwhelming and much of it is concerning or alarming. Try to set a time for regular news updates (I do morning, lunchtime and evening) and pay attention to how you react to the news. If it makes you more anxious, do some breathing exercises or try to plan some time to exercise right after getting updated.
Focus on your breathing, meditate, or continue or renew your religious faith practice. Meditation apps and breathing exercises are easy to locate online. Using these daily can help anyone manage their stress. Some people like to start their day with a meditation or breathing exercise. Now is also a good time to renew or continue your religious faith practice.
Get good nutrition. I admit I’ve been stress eating a bit. And I’m baking a lot lately with my daughter because we are stuck at home and we both love to bake. Try to eat fruits and vegetables every day and pay attention to nutrition. Keeping fruit on my desk helps me stay on track (having those chocolate squares in my desk drawer is not a good idea).
Appreciate beauty and goodness. Even in these crazy times, there is still beauty and goodness in the world. Look up pictures of beautiful places, look outside your window, and look for examples of goodness around you. I try to find “do good” stories that I share on my personal Facebook page each day that highlight kindness and helpfulness in the world. Spotting something good or beautiful reminds us that we are not alone and that there is still much to appreciate in this world.
Get some exercise. Do online workouts or yoga if you are indoors. Try to schedule time on your calendar for movement. If you use a pedometer, try to get your step count up. Get outside if you can and go for a walk. Our daughter’s tae kwon do studio is offering online video lessons that the entire family can participate in.
Find joy. Reconnect with an old hobby or find a new one to enjoy. It might be as simple as posting little reviews of what you watched on Netflix last night, or something like baking, puzzles, exercise, painting or something else. Be intentional about seeking out things and activities you enjoy.
Allow for humor. These are serious times we are living in, and we all need some humor and laughter in our days. If you are working from home with kids – try having a daily knock knock joke or a family dance party.
Spend time in nature. If it’s safe for you to be outside, now is a good time to be in your backyard or out in nature. Find time for a hike (remember to practice social distancing) or go on a walk around town. Just walking our family’s dog up and down the street where we live helps me disconnect from work for a few minutes at the end of every day. Then I come in and finish getting dinner ready and spend time with my family. I spent several hours over the weekend working on my vegetable garden, with the goal of getting ready for spring planting in a few weeks. Just looking at it during the week, makes me happy, because I know how much I’ve already accomplished. I’ve also noticed a lot more bird sounds and paid more attention to the daffodils coming up in my yard. Nature is a great stress-reliever, so the more time you can find outside, the better.
Seek help if you need it. Even if you are practicing social distancing, there are still ways to access professional mental health services from home. Many counselors will talk with you over the phone or do a videoconference session with you. Talk with someone if you need the extra support.
Coronavirus Sanity Guide (Ten Percent Happier)
Manage Anxiety & Stress (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention – CDC)
Practicing Self-Care in the Face of Coronavirus (Psychology Today)
Resources for Nonprofits, Associations & Small Businesses (Steppingstone LLC)
Self-care in the Time of Coronavirus (Child Mind Institute)
Try These Tips to Reduce Stress and Boost Your immune System (Thrive Global)
Ami Neiberger-Miller is a public relations strategist and writer. She is the founder of Steppingstone LLC, an independent PR practice near Washington, D.C. that provides public relations counsel, social media engagement, writing services, and creative design for publications and websites (contact to discuss your project, review our portfolio, sign up for our e-newsletter). She blogs about media relations, social media, public relations, and work-family balance. Follow her on Twitter @AmazingPRMaven