Survey Shows How PR Pros Can Take Care of Themselves
Over the last 17 months, we’ve witnessed the world turn upside-down. And the people who are part of the communications profession played a significant role in keeping us alert, aware and safe from COVID-19.
Earlier this year, we surveyed 100 communicators on the state of their well-being, a follow-up to one we conducted in 2019. Results from that survey highlighted the need to take care of the new professional.
Because more than 75 percent of this year’s survey respondents reported having more than 10 years of experience, our findings suggest that mid-to-senior level managers/executives need to focus on their mental and physical health as we head into a post-COVID world.
What we found may not surprise you, but these findings are reminders that our profession, and our clients, are dependent on your well-being.
We still are not taking vacation.
One significant data point is around the use of vacation. Fifty-one percent of respondents said that they only took 0-3 uninterrupted vacation days, while 29 percent said 3-7 days were uninterrupted by work.
Recommendations: Take your vacation — you’ve earned your paid time off. Your employee benefits are there for a reason. We perform better when we feel mentally and physically rested. Are you an independent consultant with no policy? Members of PRSA’s Independent Practitioners Alliance have a great idea: Set a policy by including a stipulation in your client contracts when you will be unavailable to work.
We are not sleeping well.
Sleep is also a significant issue. Seventeen percent of the respondents said that thinking about work impacts their sleep daily, while 46 percent said at least once per week that work affects their sleep. 2020 and 2021 are stressful years, but proper sleep is paramount to show up as leaders.
Recommendations: One of the first things we recommend to people who aren’t sleeping well is to drink their water. The systems in our bodies are working while we’re sleeping and need water to process. Try to give yourself a 1–2-hour gap from your last drink of water before you go to bed, and limit alcohol and caffeine in the evenings.
We are not using all of our wellness resources.
Fifty-six percent said that they do not participate in any program dedicated to improving mental and physical well-being. Related, people want to make time to exercise as most respondents said they would spend an extra hour out of their day to exercise.
Recommendations: Give yourself one month to challenge yourself to do the same exercise every day. Whether it’s walking for 30 minutes, doing pushups, riding your bicycle, or swimming at the local pool, find something that you can do every day for a month. Record your measurements and how you feel before and after your challenge. You’ll be surprised how much a simple change can have a positive impact.
We are working through lunch.
Thirty-one percent of the respondents said that they take uninterrupted lunch breaks away from their place of work. However, 20 percent said they never take lunch breaks.
Because we are working through lunch, often we aren’t focusing on how quickly we’re eating. We need to slow down to eat our meals; we should give ourselves at least 15 minutes, so our bodies have time to digest our food correctly.
Eating too quickly can be hard on our stomach. In addition, our brain hasn’t caught up, which might cause us to overeat. The opposite issue can happen as well; we forget to eat. Forgetting to eat or skipping meals has its own mental and physical challenges.
Recommendations: Start with identifying two to three days per week that you can block off 30 minutes over lunch to focus on nothing but taking your time to enjoy your lunch, listen to a podcast or audiobook, and prepare mentally for the rest of the afternoon.
Focusing on these recommendations is a step toward enhancing your well-being and preparing your mind and body to tackle the rest of 2021.