We’ve talked about it before, and we’re going to talk about it again, the #PRLife is downright stressful. And if you work in a high energy, stressful city like I do, even the environment outside of the office can produce stress.
The bad news is, aside from making life a little less enjoyable, stress can lead to a reduction in attention to detail, mistakes on deliverables, poor client relations, and a host of negative health consequences. The good news is, there are several simple things you can do throughout the day to alleviate your stress, refocus your energy and get your productive juices flowing again.
Sound a little too good to be true? It’s not.
Mindfulness—loosely defined as the practice of focusing one’s mind on what’s happening, what one is doing, and what space one is moving through—has been shown to improve focus and attention to detail, lead to more rational thinking, and increase empathy, which can lead to better teamwork.
I know, I know. That all sounds great, but what if you don’t have the time to meditate? How are you supposed to practice mindfulness when you’re already too busy clipping news placements and writing message points to eat lunch?
Here are five things you can do in the office to take control of your stress and be more mindful throughout the day:
1. There’s an app for that
There are a number of apps available that will walk you through short, guided mindfulness sessions to help you lower stress and refocus your energy. I use an app called “Meditation Studio” when I’m feeling anxious about finishing an assignment on time or overwhelmed with my workload. This app, and others, guide you through short mindfulness exercises designed to reduce your stress and help you get back on the road to productivity.
2. Embrace single-tasking
Guess what – multitasking doesn’t make you more productive, it makes you more stressed!
Think about it. When you’re writing a press release or pitch that will capture the media’s attention and deliver results for your client, you’re putting stress on yourself to deliver your best work, right? What happens when you answer client emails between paragraphs and try to confirm dates for an SMT while you’re proofing? You’re stress level increases, because now you’re worried about doing three things perfectly, instead of just one.
Instead of multitasking, focus on one thing at a time. Give your full attention to what you’re working on presently, and ignore incoming emails—at least for short periods of time. If possible, turn notifications on your computer off for 15 to 20 minute intervals and dedicate that time to focusing your brainpower on the task at hand. Trust me, it will make a difference.
3. Unplug during lunch
Turn off your computer, put down your phone, and use your lunch hour as an opportunity to hit the “RESET” button on your day. If you’re anything like me, you like to catch up on the latest news, squeeze in a quick episode of your latest Netflix binge, or sift through your social channels to keep your mind off work during lunch. The problem with that is, if your laptop is in front of you or you’re on your phone, it’s going to be tough to ignore your email or truly take a break from the work you were doing before you left your desk.
Instead, be mindful about what you’re eating, how quickly you’re eating it, and who you are eating with. Take your time and enjoy your food. Talk with the people around about something that doesn’t involve work. Read a book or magazine to keep your brain from focusing on what you have to do once you’re back at your desk. By focusing on the here and now, you’re allowing your brain time to rest and lowering your stress level—two things that will make your afternoon a little less hectic.
4. Take a lap! Around the office, that is…
Do I use affect or effect? Is the comma in the right place here? Why won’t these reporters pick up my calls? I’ve been staring at the same paragraph for 20 minutes (cough, cough)!
Sometimes, us PR pros can get so stressed out by the small things that we make ourselves crazy. If you notice yourself staring at the screen ineffectively or striking out with phone outreach, get up, take a lap around the office, and sit back down to attack the problem. Office too small? Get outside and take in your surroundings.
Wherever you walk, focus on what’s around you to help you keep your mind off the stressful project you’re working on. Stretching your legs will help you stay healthy, re-focus your energy and give your brain a break. When you sit back down, you’ll be ready to take on that challenging project with newfound vigor.
5. Just Breathe
If things are getting a little too overwhelming, your body provides the best defense against stress: your lungs. Mindful breathing exercises like this one can help you calm down and de-stress in overwhelming situations:
Sit straight up with your feet on the floor and close your eyes. Breathe in for a count of eight, hold for a count of eight and breathe out for a count of eight. As you breathe, think about your lungs, your chest, and your belly. Make sure your chest and belly are both moving in and out as you breathe and that your lungs are taking in all the air they can.
Repeat this three to five times. Feel better?
The next time you’re feeling stressed about a press release distribution or getting next week’s social media content ready, take a moment to focus your thoughts and be present in the moment. Make mindfulness a part of your daily life, and the stress of the PR life will start to disappear.
What’s your go-to office stress relief technique? Share it with us in the comments below!