Survey after survey flags off the public relations profession as one of the top 10 most stressful jobs worldwide. It's no different for India. With 2019 already at the midway mark, PRmoment India decided to take a much-needed pause to ask communication professional their best tips to thrive under stress at work.
Rumela Chandra, PR associate, Ideosphere says that the problem of wellness is a very fundamental one for PR professionals, admitting that, " We belong to an industry which does not approve of or acknowledge breaks or days off. In the field of servicing, as the name suggests, you go on serving to meet deliverables that you have promised to your clients."
Rumela also points out that, "Stories and cases of depression and anxiety have been doing the rounds in general, and, a lot in this industry, it is difficult to ignore, honestly. The concept of a toxic environment should be discussed but, do employees really discuss it? They don't because of salary, reputation and the fear of being misunderstood."
Dr Divya Shree K.R, consultant psychiatrist, Aster CMI Hospital, opinion that, "A younger workforce faces burnout due to long work hours and carrying work back home. They have a lack of protected personal time and poorly managed physical and mental health. Women particularly need to manage their personal and professional life. They tend to feel a constant sense of guilt and a sense of inadequacy for being unable to do justice in both spheres."
Arpita Ashara Sood, lead client servicing at The Pivotals says she solves the issue of personal balance by setting clear boundaries on both ends of the spectrum – whether it’s your kids and family, or your work.
Arpita agrees though that, "Achieving this balancing act is a personal journey, so we must steer away from being ridden by guilt, especially as women. Continue to do whatever you think works for your lifestyle, and do not let anyone else dictate otherwise."
Handling stress at work
PR professionals in India are quite aware of the need to destress and remain both mentally and physically fit.
Ramakrishna Prayag, director, Kaizzen PR, says, "At 52, because of my profession I deem it important to remain fit mentally and physically. Yoga and weight training have helped me here. I love to solve mind teasers in my free time. When I feel down I go for a walk, and sing a song to be happy."
Raghavendra Rao, CEO, BERNAY IMC, who tries to incorporate a daily swim in his summer routine shares, that, "When I am feeling low I don't panic I analyse the pros and cons and then arrive at a conclusion and decide appropriately. I first look at doing the easier thing first which makes me feel lighter. By doing so it also gives me an option to look at possible solutions. 10 out of 10 times I get out of the problem."
Megha Sharma, founder & CEO, ADRIFT Communications & Influencer Marketing advises making time on a daily basis to sort out anxieties at work or otherwise.
Megha recommends carving out a daily zero hour for yourself, "where you disconnect yourself completely from the hustle-bustle of your daily schedule. You could schedule this early in the morning or late at night. Train yourself to completely switch off your mind from things that have been bothering you through the day."
Hari Prasad Gogikar, PR professional, Concept PR turns to meditation to, " Have control of my mind to manage clients expectations and the media, I do meditation for around 20 mins. The main challenge is managing the time out of the regular schedule as there is no fixed work timing in PR. I think PR companies should take up an initiative of installing a gym and meditation classes at offices. This exercise will enable PR firms to get more productive outcomes from the employees."
Fit body, Fit mind
The old adage of a fit body and fit mind is certainly truer today than it ever was; difficult as it is to carve out time for yourself. Sanaj Natarajan, communications leader believes running has helped achieve the mindfulness he wants at work as has standing more at work.
Says Sanaj, "I am now am part of a runner group which has helped me train at regular intervals. It never occurred to me that running is a team sport. And this has helped me focus on my physical and mental well being despite the pollution in Gurgaon. I did not dream of completing a half marathon(21 km) earlier, but this year I have completed 2!
Neha Jain, head - communications and marketing, RBS India is also a great believes in the calming benefits of a regular exercise routine. Neha shares that she has been a lyrical jazz dancer for the better part of her life.
She says, " The days when I engage in some form of workout - dance class, swimming, Zumba, running - my confidence level soars, impacting my corporate performance. It's a different story when I don't get a workout to start my day with - it's come to a stage when people around me can tell the difference."
Neha agrees that committing to dance has meant that, "I have had to make difficult choices like waking up at 5 each morning, committing my Sunday mornings to a three-hour dance class instead of a cup of coffee with my family, going for a swim instead of watching my daughter during her skating class. However what I also knew is that I wouldn't settle for anything less from my life, and somewhere, I hope, I am giving my daughter a glimpse of what commitment to a hobby or oneself is - even if it means more hard work."
Saloni Sachdeva, who works with public affairs, MSL India endorses the importance of physical activity, she says, "We work in an industry, where a typical 9 to 5, doesn’t work. Therefore, we need to marry our work with fitness, otherwise, the PR industry will have to make early retirement plans. In an industry where ‘catching up over drinks’ is a regular norm, it is necessary we take regular breaks, drink plenty of water and come up with ways to catch up on our sleep."
Poornima Matthan, senior corporate communications professional recommends doing, "Simple standing exercises one can do at one's workstation just to make sure that one's muscles don't get stiff and problems such as a back or neck pain can be avoided. Keep walking, don't stay put at your desk the whole day, walk over to the person you want to talk to. Encourage your HR teams at your workplace to have some workstations which force you to stand up and work. I have also been part of a committee where I suggested that we don’t have chairs in one meeting room so it forces employees to stand and engage in meetings."
Megha also recommends taking a good long look at your diet saying, "Do you know lack of vitamin D can cause depression, brain fog and anxiety and you may be attributing it to work stress? To make sure that you are leading an overall fit (mind and body) lifestyle and want to avoid brain fog, start including brain-healthy foods such as walnuts, leafy green vegetables, dark chocolate, nuts and berries such as blueberries. Brain-food rich diets have shown a tremendous difference in people who have reported to feel more happy, energetic and positive throughout the day."
Shweta Sayanakar, principal consultant, Edbern Tribe Strategies says, "After the birth of my second child, I found that my energy levels had dipped considerably and my body was not as fit and flexible as earlier. I experimented with various diets and exercise regimes, before finally realising that what worked best for me was a combination of Yoga for exercise and incorporating plenty of fresh fruits and salads in my diet. I would in general urge everyone to focus on their health right away, instead of waiting for physical afflictions to affect their health and mental well-being."