It is a vicious cycle and does not discriminate. It can even take down the strongest PR pro who doesn’t bat an eye at the toughest challenges they face.
We’re talking about burnout, which stems from repeated stress. Sound familiar?
The American Psychological Association defines it as physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion that comes with low motivation and performance efforts and a negative view of oneself and other people.
“Burnout is rife in the PR industry,” a Burrelles article explains. “PR pros often work long hours, deal with clients with high expectations and high-pressure situations, are expected to be on call around the clock and face constant rejection and criticism.”
These PR pros share some tips on how to face burnout and overcome it.
When life comes knocking
Carmen Cusido, senior account director for MikeWorldWide Public Relations, told PR Daily that personal struggles, including chronic illness, mental illness and personal loss, which, when combined with a heavy workload, resulted in burnout.
The breakthrough happened when she realized she could not be accessible all the time — especially to former employers who had expectations of her to always be on call.
Cusido said that setting boundaries at work is an important tool. She learned over the years that not everyone will understand leaving work on time, but she had to do it to take care of herself. And eventually, former employers came to respect her for knowing when to draw the line.
“Those boundaries are respected and honored,” Cusido said.
“Break your tasks down into smaller, manageable steps and create a schedule or to-do lists. This approach can help you stay organized and reduce stress.”
Rudolph, a longtime PR pro, said that while the public relations industry can be fun, exciting, demanding and fast-paced, these same reasons make professionals more susceptible to burnout.
Time management and delegation are key, too, in preventing burnout.
“Efficiently, manage your time to prevent feeling overwhelmed. Prioritize tasks, break them down into smaller, manageable steps, and create a schedule or to-do lists,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks or ask for assistance when needed. Recognize your limits and distribute the workload among team members. Collaboration and support from colleagues can lighten the burden and prevent burnout.”
At a former job, Cusido also faced dealing with a toxic work environment where some colleagues purposely left her off of meetings, which can contribute to mental health challenges at work.
Rudolph said in this field, honoring oneself and preventing burnout could look like taking regular breaks and developing a support system, especially for the tough days.
“Cultivate a network of colleagues, mentors, or friends in the industry who can offer guidance, advice, or simply lend an empathetic ear,” he said. “Sharing experiences and challenges can help alleviate stress and prevent feelings of isolation.”
He said in addition to setting boundaries, prioritize self-care.
“Take care of your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing,” Rudolph said. “Make time for activities that you enjoy and that help you relax, such as exercise, hobbies, spending time with loved ones, or engaging in mindfulness and meditation practices. Personally, I have standing appointments every two weeks with my massage therapist, I practice yoga and stretching daily, and one day a week is dedicated to time at the spa for a steam bath.”
With looming deadlines and projects, quotas to fill and more, Cusido tuned into her body and mind and cut out all the noise that made work overwhelming.
“In the past when I’ve been burned out and I was focusing all these external factors when I took a breath and was like, ‘Okay, what can I do to make myself feel better?’ Then that would kind of help me get out of that exhaustion,” she said.
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