The COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND COPING IN PUBLIC RELATIONS
This article is part of the series #SupportEachOther, a campaign through which PRCAI aims to bring PR professionals from diverse verticals and different levels of experience onto a common platform for discussion. By spreading awareness and the use of storytelling, we aim to destigmatize mental health issues within the PR industry and start a dialogue to help and #SupportEachOther, in the midst of various professional challenges we are confronting because of the COVID19 pandemic crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a once-in-a-lifetime crisis that none of us was prepared for; from business owners to employees and freelancers; from senior executives to younger employees, even those graduating this year and are yet to start their professional career. Stress and anxiety are completely natural to occur in these testing times. As PR professionals, we are even carrying the twin burden of managing our own personal anxieties, while also counselling and advising clients on how to deal with this crisis and communicate with their stakeholders.
With some trial and error and a bit of luck, most of us tend to discover adequate stress-coping mechanisms that work well for us. Some tips that I personally consider as useful, and what might work for many others too, are
- Establish your personal support system: Families make an excellent support system, provided one is able to openly talk about their fears and anxieties with the family members. Luckily, most of us are currently locked down with our families, which offers a strong cushion to discuss our fears and anxieties. Those who are not living with their families must create an alternate support system; whether it is with your spouse, colleagues or close friends.
- Treat your bedroom as your safe space: All of us are conditioned from childhood to treat our home as a safe space that shelters and protects us. At a time when all of us are working from home, there is a risk of violating this conditioning, which can aggravate the anxiety further. A possible workaround is to dedicate a single corner for your professional work, which should ideally be outside the bedroom. This way, you know that at least your bedroom will allow you to escape the work-related stress and anxieties.
- Know your breaking points: Not all stress and anxiety is bad – most of us have frequently dealt with anxiety in our day-to-day lives and instinctively know when it gets overbearing. The trick is to know your limits, for example to what extent can you consume Coronavirus-related news on TV, newspapers or on social networks without getting severely bogged down by it, and switch off when you feel you are near your breaking point.
- Keep yourself busy: It is easy to fall into the trap of overthinking or worrying about the future if you don’t have anything pressing to do. Fortunately, the universal lockdown means that we don’t have maids and cooks to support us, and most of us are therefore busy with cooking, cleaning and doing other household chores in addition to our professional work. If you still find time to spare, use that to watch your favorite series or movies, read all books gathering dust on your shelves, or do anything else that keeps you busy and does not leave you with any time to brood.
- Keep the faith: Bad times don’t last forever. There will be an end to the Coronavirus pandemic sooner than later, and the economy will bounce back subsequently. the trick is to persevere and hang in there. Think of this crisis as a terrible storm we all are living through, but pass it shall one day. The good times will be back – let us look forward to them.
Founder and CEO, Evoc