02 May Why self-care is the key to success in PR
Katarina Farrell, N2N’s Agency Leader recently spoke at a PRIA event on why self-care is the key to success in PR. See her thoughts below.
Public Relations is one of the most dynamic, interesting and ever-changing industries going around – and it can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling.
My passion for health and mental health comes from both personal and a professional perspectives.
My aunty has schizophrenia and I have seen first-hand the impact mental illness has had on her and her life. Wherever I can, I break down the misunderstandings people have about people with schizophrenia.
My dad is a psychologist, so dinner table discussions were often quite focused on building self-awareness and empathy for others who may be going through their own challenges.
And finally, in running a PR agency, I’m passionate about supporting my team to understand their boundaries, build resilience, and take responsibility for their health and mental health in a proactive way.
Our industry attracts smart, young, ambitious people, who often work hard, play hard and grapple to balance their expectation and ambition with the implications of life and their health and mental health.
We talk a lot about work-life balance. But I want to challenge this idea that the two elements can be weighted in “correct” proportions.
In our line of work, the reality is that work and our lives intersect, and it’s how you manage this intersection that’s most critical. I don’t think that there’s ever true balance between anything in life, whether it’s work or your personal life – it’s more a matter of priorities and focus that shifts and changes day to day, week to week, and that may need resetting when they get out of whack.
From my own experience and in working with my team, there are some key things that I believe are helpful when it comes to thinking about self-care in PR.
Know your tipping point: Understand your limit and the signs and behaviours that mean you’re close to it. Know how to short circuit these behaviours, or have someone who can help you do it.
Remember why you started working in communications: What do you love about what we do? Why did you study PR at uni? Do you love building relationships, solving problems, or writing? Find ways to do more of the things that you love and energise you and less of the things that don’t.
Find your jam and stick to it: If yoga gives you clarity and peace, you need to prioritise it. If its water colour painting, find ways to do it after work. My jam is making sure I can do at least three gym sessions a week, a great book, or a massive cook up on a Sunday afternoon.
Take a break: Seriously. Book a holiday. Take a day off if you’re sick. Take the pressure off yourself. Don’t let work become your life. We work in PR, not ER (my sister is an emergency nurse, and believe me, her job is life or death), so plan your vacations well in advance, and take time out to get some perspective.
Don’t be ashamed to talk about mental health: Like in any walk of life, people in our industry grapple with their mental health for a whole host of reasons. There is no shame in getting professional help – I’ve seen psychologists at different times throughout my career to help me reframe my perspective and learn techniques to help me manage stress. The more we each share our stories, the more we break down the barriers.
An industry perspective
There’s a lot happening across our industry to help address this issue of self-care. Many agencies offer an Employee Assistance Program, where the team can access trained mental health professionals, paid for by the business. In addition, some initiatives being run in agencies include: a ‘Food For Thought’ program focussed on men and mental health that was inspired by the personal story of one of the team; mental health awareness training for all staff and managers; health, happiness and high performance training with a coach; and many (including Herd) offer exercise, birthday days off, massages and flexible working.
These initiatives are incredibly important, and I applaud our colleagues for committing to them – but I think we can continue to do more. Strong leadership from within our industry is critical to further the conversations and actions.
Writing this, I’ve been reminded just how passionate I am about this topic, and just how committed I am personally and as a leader in our industry to do more.
So my challenge to you is to find small ways to promote self-care amongst your colleagues, clients, and importantly yourself.
My advice – be ambitious, bring your energy and smarts to our industry, but also be kind to yourself and those around you.