May 14, 2019
Mental Health Awareness Week: Tips for managing stress and pressureContact
We are in the middle of Mental Health Awareness Week, organised by the Mental Health Foundation, which has the objective of spreading awareness and understanding around mental health across the UK. We, like many other professional services businesses, have an ongoing Wellbeing Programme run by our Human Resource department, to ensure that we are able to support our team. We are also pleased to taking part in the nationwide initiative this week for the first time with a series of activities run by our social/community/charity team, including yoga and meditation classes, awareness sessions and educational talks.
This got me thinking about my long career in PR and corporate communications and the many pressures I, and numerous colleagues, have faced over the years. The Mental Health Foundation believes taking care of yourself is crucial to positive mental health and that there are small steps that anyone can implement to manage stress in their lives. Here, I am sharing my five top tips for coping with pressures that may come with a career in corporate communications:
- Always manage client expectations
As client leaders, we always want to do an excellent job for the businesses we work with, which often leads to great enthusiasm. However, it is vital not to over-promise: in the world of communications, nothing is a guarantee in terms of news. Even with the most robust planning, nobody can anticipate if there is a story that will break and take over the news cycle, and it is key to take this into account when agreeing what can be delivered. It is better to set realistic KPIs that are attainable, manage expectations and ensure that all team members are on the same page.
- Learn to prioritise
In strategic communications, we are multi-taskers – we get used to spinning multiple plates, and in the early years, it is hard to know how to prioritise. This is something that comes more easily with time. Every morning, write a ‘to-do’ list, looking at all your various deadlines and selecting a realistic number of tasks to complete. If you have too much on your plate, find someone you can tell in your team to assess if you can spread the load. The whole point of agency teams is to help each other out.
- Ensure you have someone you can talk to
It is a great source of comfort to have a mentor, line manager or someone to discuss a problematic situation with. This person could be within your company, or it could be someone external. Try to identify this individual in your network who you can go to for advice – it can be particularly helpful if they work in your industry and can be impartial. Talking things through can really help to give some perspective to any situation. Coming up with a strategy, solution, or even single next step together with your mentor or line manager is a great way to dismantle a roadblock. Even at this point in my career, I can find I have sleepless nights from thinking about a piece or work or a campaign. However, it helps to not let worries fester by talking it through with a colleague to collaboratively think of a solution.
- Learn when to say no
Very occasionally, I have found myself to work with individuals who can be too bullish in their approach, pushing those around them too hard to deliver unachievable deadlines – this is totally unacceptable and completely counterintuitive in creating an environment where you want to get the best from people. If you find this happens, and it is impacting the mental wellbeing of you or anyone you are working with, establishing a point at which to say no is key. It can help to explain the situation from your perspective, or look at what you think is achievable for you and the team. If this does not help, speak with your line manager or another senior team member to find a solution. This is never acceptable workplace behaviour.
- Always be honest
Making mistakes is part of the job, and part of life – as the adage goes, honesty is the best policy. Not feeling like you have to cover what you have done will go a long way to reduce stress. If you make a mistake, however bad you may think it is, speak to your manager or a senior team member who can help to rectify it. Two minds are always better than one to find a solution, and all of us have at least at one point in our careers made a mistake. It isn’t making of the mistake, but how you deal with it that is important.
Keeping these points in mind has helped me enormously in dealing with stress and maintaining positive mental health. The key thing to remember is that there are always people to turn to talk to, and plenty of resources available to help with devising your own strategies to support you when you need it.
For more information on Mental Health Awareness, visit their site here.
By Tali Kramer, Instinctif Partners