Reporting the pandemic is stressful and at times, overwhelming. The steady stream of coronavirus figures and reports can take a toll on journalists’ mental health.
This, combined with working from home, can mean that journalists are left feeling isolated and in many cases stressed and anxious.
The Journalism and Pandemic Survey conducted by the ICFJ revealed that 82 per cent of journalists reported at least one negative emotional or psychological reaction as a result of the pandemic. Similarly, nearly three quarters (70 per cent) said the emotional and psychological impacts of dealing with covid-19 were the most difficult part of their work.
Amelia Harper, a broadcast journalist and newsreader for Global, admits it is difficult to escape coronavirus talk:
"There’s no way around it - it’s important to take time for yourself and treat yourself to good healthy food and self-care. 99 per cent of people are experiencing different emotions to ‘normal’ and so if you need help you have to ask."
If you find that you are often working overtime, repeatedly checking Twitter or worrying about work while you should be relaxing you might be at risk of burning out.
Here are some tips for protecting your mental wellbeing in 2021:
Create a Tweetdeck ‘happy column’
If you use Tweetdeck every day to follow the news, set up a ‘happy column’. Fill it with accounts that have nothing to do with the news and make you smile. Whether it be cute puppies or memes from your favourite TV show, glancing at the column every now and then will break up the stream of negativity and boost your mood.
Separate your accounts
If you use several social media platforms, make sure they are not all about work. While Twitter is an essential tool for keeping up with the headlines, you might benefit from freeing up your other feeds. You can try keeping Instagram and Facebook for friends and family and follow accounts that match your hobbies and interests.
Turn off your notifications
Once you have finished work, turn off notifications for news apps and Twitter. It might seem difficult but it is impossible to relax while your phone is constantly pinging. Set a clear time for the end of the working day and stick to it.
Set aside time for yourself
Do not underestimate the importance of putting your phone down once in a while. Taking a break from work and speaking to someone who is not a journalist can be a great reset. Getting some fresh air and exercise, even for just 30 minutes, can vastly improve your mood.
Do not be afraid to ask for help
Be kind to yourself. If you feel overwhelmed and that you cannot cope, tell someone.
"I don’t think vulnerability is the right word because when we say 'I need help’, that’s not being vulnerable, that’s actually saying ‘I’m being strong and I’m admitting that something is happening to me’," said Hannah Storm, CEO of the Ethical Journalism Network, at our last Newsrewired event.
Also, remember to check in with colleagues and ask how they are doing.
Join a community
Remember you are not alone - many journalists are suffering from stress, anxiety and burnout. Mar Cabra, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist best known for leading the technology and data work for the Panama Papers, created a project that supports journalists when everything gets a bit too much.
The initiative has three objectives: raising awareness around mental health in the newsroom; providing journalists with evidence-based tools they can use to manage stress; and create an ongoing support community for media professionals.
Are you looking to learn a new journalistic skill? Take a look at our training courses that cover everything from freelancing, to social media to data journalism. Find our more
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