We all experience stress in our working lives, to one degree or another, whatever industry we happen to be in. But according to a recent report by Career Cast, PR is one of the most stressful environments you could choose to work in.
The profession has ranked among the top ten – which includes military service, firefighters, airline pilots and police officers – for the last five years, and shows no signs of falling out anytime soon. So, as a PR professional, how should you deal with stress?
In the short-term, excess stress triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response. When a situation becomes too stressful, our brain relies on these instinctive behaviours. The amygdala (a collection of neurons deep within the temporal lobes of the brain) hijacks our rational brain, floods the body with adrenaline and mobilises us to either ‘stand and fight’ or ‘run away’.
However, not all stress is bad. In small doses, stress can be good. It can be a motivator. It can drive people forward. It can focus a person on a specific activity or goal. Some people thrive on stress, on being under pressure. In some, it can increase performance levels and output. But what motivates one person, can demotivate another. And that is something that businesses, organisations and leaders need to be mindful of.
The best way to combat stress, is by recognising its warning signs, and taking efficient measures to ward off its effects, such as:
- Planning ahead – so you know what is ahead and what deadlines need to be met
- Have healthy snacks available to keep energy levels up
- Take a break – stretching and moving for five minutes can help to boost oxygen levels and energy in your system
- Pay attention to communication – treat others with respect
- Be aware of your own personal triggers and what might irritate or tip you over the edge
- Don’t dwell on things you can’t control
- Pay attention to work life balance
- Be personally accountable for your own performance and wellbeing
- Eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise to keep your energy and inner resilience up
- Get plenty of sleep – it is when your body and brain will recharge
Preparation and resilience are key for individuals to be able to handle a busy working environment, and the sort of deadlines and never-ending ’to-do-lists’ that are common in PR.
When we pay conscious attention to ourselves, our colleagues and our environment, we can remain resilient and perform at our best in any situation. If organisations and individuals do that, a high-pressured environment can be where people flourish.
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