Credit: Lisa Fotios from Pexels

Covering election night is stressful and often overwhelming. The steady stream of figures, forecasts and reports combined with working long hours and the lack of sleep can take a toll on journalists’ mental health.

Although the camaraderie in the newsroom can help alleviate some of that stress, election week is often hard to get through.

If you find that you are often working overtime, repeatedly checking social media 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:

Separate your accounts

If you use several social media platforms, make sure they are not all about work. While X/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.

Create an X Pro ‘happy column’

If you use X Pro (which replaced 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.

Turn off your notifications

Once you have finished work, turn off notifications for news apps and social media. 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.

Read more: Taking care of your mental wellbeing can help you become a better journalist

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 Newsrewired event in 2020.

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.

Read more: 15 online communities for journalists you should know about

This article was originally published on 07/01/2021 and was republished with updated information.

Free daily newsletter

If you like our news and feature articles, you can sign up to receive our free daily (Mon-Fri) email newsletter (mobile friendly).