This article originally ran on PR Daily in February, 2015. PR can be a tough game at times. Stress, rejection and challenging situations are something pros face daily. Even the most resolute optimist could struggle to keep her or his chin up. It’s vital for pros stay positive, not only for clients and pitches, but for their own sanity.
Over the years I have come up with a few ways that help me to stay positive. Here’s what I do:
1. Go to 750 Words.
This website is amazing, and I have been using it for years now. When I am feeling overwhelmed, strained, and like my brain is about to explode, I use it to offload. I usually try and do it first thing in the morning, but any time is a good time to unburden. The site enables the user to create a private account. No one sees what you write. You’re given free rein to write whatever comes to mind for 750 words (which it counts for you). You’re encouraged not to think too much. Just write. I have had some really great ideas come to mind when writing on 750 Words. If you feel icky about writing your personal thoughts and feelings online, which some do, a good old fashioned notebook and pen works just as well. Do one page of writing, which will be about the same word count.
This is quite a recent one for me, and one that I often have to push myself to do. It’s not easy to make time for it, but the benefits are there. I usually set a timer on my phone and sit quietly for 10 minutes, focusing on my breathing. There are apps out there that can help you out, such as Headspace.
3 – Write a gratitude list
I have a little gratitude notebook, and as often as I can, I write the top 10 things for which I’m most grateful. I imagine some people will cringe a little at the thought of this. I used to, but it does help. Writing out the list puts things into perspective when you are about to blow a gasket because a client said something he shouldn’t have on Twitter. What you’re most grateful for can be anything from the very simple things in life, like sunshine, the roof over your head or the clean water you drink, to luxuries like the new bag you bought or the restaurant where you ate lunch. People are often a big part of mine: friends, family, partners, colleagues. Once you start scribbling, you realize there is lots to be thankful for.
4. Make a music playlist.
Music helps moods. I have a go-to playlist of tunes that make me feel happy, excited, energized and uplifted. You know the songs. They make you walk down the street with a strut and fight the urge to dance on public transportation. Get yourself that playlist and play it loud.
I love a good stretch or dance. Sometimes, it helps just to stand and breathe. PR pros are so involved with our laptops, phones, and work, work, work, that sometimes one really has to make an effort to stop and get one’s body moving. It works, though. It focuses the mind on something other than stresses and worries.
There are lots of ways to vent. Sometimes it’s best to get together with a group of good friends and talk about anything but PR. Other times, you need a good old chew-your-ear-off rant to one of your nearest and dearest; your mother, best friend or other half, maybe. Still other times, pros we are compelled to commiserate with people in their world and have a note-swapping session on how annoying their jobs can be. Moaning can help from time to time, just as long as you remember to go back to that positive place. Remember why you are there in the first place and make a toast to the notion that deep down, you really love what you do. Create a network of other PR professionals that for whom you can serve as a sounding board and vice-versa.
A few more things I do to relieve stress include:
- Putting my phone on silent, popping it in a drawer for a whole day and ignoring it
- Hanging out with a pet
- Stepping away from the workstation and going for a walk
- Doing something creative that isn’t related to work
PR pros should to remember to look after themselves. Being an overstressed, overtired ball of tension is not a badge of honor.