Looking after mental health when all you read and write about is scary stuff

From implementing a positive morning routine to setting yourself news curfews, Yard's Lekha Ly on how to protect your mental health as a Digital Marketing professional

Most of us are aware that the media we consume daily has an impact on our emotions and mental wellbeing. The 24hr news cycle means that we’re constantly plugged in. A recent study revealed that more than half of Americans said the news causes them stress, yet 1 in 10 adults checks the news every hour. Psychologists often argue that the reason for this is that the human brain is wired to register negative stimuli more readily than positive. This is a concept called negativity bias.

The advice for reducing stress and anxiety is to reduce our news consumption. We’re told to remove news alerts we set on our smart phones and only check on the news once or twice a day (and to set a time limit on each news reading block).

So, how do we protect our mental health when working in marketing?

As a Senior Digital PR Manager, I always advise PR Executives to read, read and read the news. This helps you understand what to pitch to each journalist and publication. It also keeps you on top of breaking news stories, so that you can be one of the first PRs to pitch your clients’ comments or product for something topical.

A good PR practitioner needs to understand how every title relevant to their clients operates. It’s even more challenging when you work in Digital PR. You aren’t just trying to achieve brand awareness but also gain links in numerous high domain authority titles that aren’t sector specific. Digital PRs can only do this by being on social media and reading stories from multiple sources on a regular basis. We simply cannot set hard limits on our media consumption.

On that basis, we at Yard, recommend trying at least one of the below tips out to help prevent news burnout:

  1. Don’t consume news stories first thing in the morning. Do something positive for yourself first thing. Whether that’s going for a run or simply making yourself a delicious breakfast- use this time to get yourself in a good headspace for the rest of the day. Then, open your news app 20-30minutes before you fire open your work e-mails so that you are up to date on essential news stories. It’s also encouraged at our agency to not consume news stories on personal devices during the working week which can really help you to be mindful of how much news you consume.
  2. Once you’ve read through the big headlines, read positive news sites (we recommend Positive.News) just so you can ease yourself in the news flow. As much as it’s important to be fully informed, media outlets cover mostly negative stories. The upbeat stories are often overlooked and that can sometimes make us think there isn’t anything good happening in the world.
  3. Set yourself ‘news curfews’. It can be easy to get enthralled in the news sphere and consume news after work. Whilst it can’t always be avoided, actively seeking out the news after your working hours means you’re eating into your own personal time. We know psychologically that it’s counterproductive to consume news constantly on a personal level, so as Digital PR professionals, we need to consider this toll when we think about consuming the news after work. Flipd is a great app available on iOS and android that helps us minimise our out of work scrolling time. It allows you to set your own amount of screen time on chosen apps.
  4. Similar to the above, just read one newspaper on Saturdays and Sundays but don’t forget to read the supplements too. Of course, you’ll still want to stay in the loop so we recommend reading weekend editions of your favourite news titles as they will have a lifestyle supplement that covers topics like travel, food and fashion which allows you to take a break from depressing news stories.
  5. Change how you consume the news. Let’s face it, how we consume the news now is vastly different from how we have in the past. A survey by Ofcom found that nine in ten 16-24-year-olds exclusively get their news from social networking sites. So, if surfing the web or watching the TV isn’t working for you, try switching it up and finding a process that you find enjoyable. TikTok and Instagram can also be great ways to consume news; they’re typically top-line and interactive.

We know you can’t go on a “digital detox” when working in Digital Marketing but there are ways that your phone can actually help you to switch-off. As well as tools that set time limits on certain apps, you can even weaken the visual appeal of your device by making using the greyscale feature which will remove all colour from your device.

Remember, your news consuming process will be personal to what your line of work is and what you enjoy so figure out what is best for you. Just implementing one of the above tips in to your daily life can help you find a better work life balance.

Featured image: Camila Quintero Franco / Unsplash

Lekha Ly

In Lekha’s ten years of working in PR, she has managed the consumer comms for some of the world’s biggest personal care brands such as Gillette, Aussie and Crabtree & Evelyn. She also independently managed the global communications strategy for Bulldog Skincare, who were the most mentioned male skincare brand in the UK press during her time there.Since then, she has led the PR for an award-winning dental care brand with a focus on formulating narratives around key sustainability initiatives. Her experience includes working with NPD and supply chain teams to help ensure companies meet sustainability targets. Her knowledge around environmental concerns the media landscape is pivotal to the clients she now manages at Yard.

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