In 2014, public relations ranked sixth in Career Cast's list of most stressful jobs. This was no accident. Long nights and tight deadlines can certainly take a toll on anyone in the industry. There even has been a death that according to some was due to the stress of the industry – a 24-year-old Ogilvy & Mather employee in China suddenly died of a massive heart attack just recently.
PR people cope with the stress in many different ways. Unfortunately, many of us turn to vice. They're seductive and they're bad, but as a quick fix, it’s hard to deny that they work.
Despite the warnings of the health department and the unsolicited advice of our non-smoking colleagues, few things can beat the relaxation brought about by smoking. It's great (or so smokers say) when thinking on your own or taking a bit of time off with a fellow smoker.
It’s difficult to avoid alcohol in PR. Engaging with clients or the media is often accompanied by a stiff drink or two – or a dozen. A project finished at 2 AM deserves a toast to celebrate its completion (and to help make the sleeping that follows better). Aside from booze, many PR people are addicted to coffee and other stimulants like Red Bull that help the mind cope with the long hours. Sad to say, the mixture of the two has led to the death of a copywriter in Indonesia.
Food is forever linked to happiness and comfort. It gives energy and the sugar high of a mid-afternoon treat is hard to resist. Unlike smoking, nibbling at your desk is completely allowed. Combined with a sedentary lifestyle though, using eating as a stress-reliever makes it easy to put on some unwanted pounds.
Although not strictly a vice, PR people goof off a lot. This can take the form of pranks subtly inserted in copy or horsing around in the office, flirting with fellow workers or simply finding a new, creative way to avoid work(like the stories that can be found in Creative Confessionals).
Here is some hard-hitting truth though: indulging in these vices can be bad for your health, and end your career early. Instead of using vice as a crutch, it's better to find healthier avenues to relieve stress.
Sports and exercise generates endorphins and other feel-good hormones. It's a great way to release your frustrations and pent-up emotions too. Physical activity can also help prevent your snacks from turning into belly fat.
Take a Break
Don't be completely married to the job. Leave work in the office as much as possible, and don’t bring it home or during vacations. Let your mind and body relax. Even in the office, it's important to give yourself some time to relax. Learn to meditate and calm your weary soul.
Just Say No
It's unfortunate but sometimes, work is our worst enemy. Comments come in late, documentation is required without sufficient lead time, and people call during the most inopportune times. Sometimes, you need to draw the line and define work processes clearly in order to avoid unfair demands from both colleagues and clients.
Manage stress in a healthy manner and you'll be able to fully enjoy the fruits of your hard work. Take a load off and find a trustworthy partner to help with your PR efforts.