The media space has definitely been picking up on the importance of mental health and how talking about it is essential to the well-being of people. But, too often journalists forget to take care of their own mental well-being — especially in this fast-paced industry that they work in.

With this in mind, it is time to take a break from looking at your audience and taking a moment just for you, dear journalist. Check in with yourself and determine where you are — mentally.

Going on this journey with you is media update’s Talisa Carlson, who is here to help you take a look at your mental health and how you can take better care of your mind.

Ready to get a little deep? Let’s do it:

1. Take proper breaks from the media

Now before we jump into this point, it is important to note that being a journalist means that you are constantly checking the news to be up to date with current affairs. Taking a break from this can be hard and make you feel even more stressed than you may have been already. So, the best way to go about this is to start small.

For example, take 30 minutes every week where you don’t look, listen or read anything that has to do with the media. Set a timer and snooze any and all notifications that you might receive regarding work or news. As soon as you are comfortable with that routine, you can consider taking longer breaks.

And if you are tempted to check your phone, simply pull a Dwight and say:

2. Talk it out

Working as a journalist might not feel stressful for you, simply because you are used to seeing and hearing about many different events that happen. “We are first responders,” says Sherry Ricchiardi, Ph.D. co-author of ICFJ's Disaster and Crisis Coverage guide and international media trainer. This means that whenever there are traumatic events, journalists are there at the frontlines to get the inside scoop and cover the story.

Over a long period of time, all of these events can build up — leaving you feeling emotionally and mentally drained. This is not a healthy way to cope with stress and negative thoughts. Therefore, it is important to talk it out with someone that you trust. This could be another colleague, a manager, a friend, a family member or even a professional.

Remember, keeping it light and positive with water-cooler talk is fine, but set time aside to talk about the deeper things that are affecting your mental health.

3. Focus on your hobbies

Journalists are fast-paced individuals, always busy with their new story or focusing on doing research. So, having a hobby might seem like a waste of time to you. But “research shows that people with hobbies are less likely to suffer from stress, low mood and depression,” according to Connect.

Another study shows that if you spend “20 minutes once a week on a hobby, you are less susceptible to fatigue and that doing an enjoyable activity is associated with lower blood pressure,” according to Verywell Mind. This should be more than enough reason to finally start that painting project or start building that cat tree you have had pinned on Pinterest since forever ago.

Or just sing out loud, this is your time!

4. Spend time outside

Whenever a listicle about mental health is put together, you will always see a point saying ‘spend time outside’ — but do you know why? Well, according to Einstein Perspectives, there are a few benefits that nature can provide you with. These reasons are because:
  • nature improves your health and well-being: Studies show that spending time outside can help reduce stress and slow your heart rate.
  • it helps you to build a stronger immune system: You soak up the sun and your “body converts it into vitamin D.”
  • nature reduces stress: Regardless of where you spend time in nature (it can be on a hike, a walk or even your backyard) the time outdoors allows you to take a breather and focus on the beauty of nature. This helps reduce stress and encourage creativity.
Instead of picking up your phone to check socials the next time that you’re on break, head outside and soak up some sun.

5. Limit social media time

The average person spends about two and a half hours a day on social media sites. For journalists, this number will definitely be much higher.

Since social media became a thing, there has always been debates surrounding whether social media is good or bad for one's mental health. And yes, while there are many pros to it, we can’t ignore the cons. It all comes down to having a healthy balance with the time you spend on social media.

Taking a break from social spaces is essential to your well-being. This is because social media might be filled with cute and funny content — but it also contains hard news and sad stories.

Making use of social media can too often lead to “depression and anxiety,” according to HelpGuide. Therefore, having a healthy balance between the amount of time spent on social media and other tasks is crucial to journalists' well-being.

If you are worried that you will miss important information, you can make use of a social media auditing service. This will allow you to set up certain keywords and once one of those keywords are mentioned, you will be notified.

So, with all the bases covered, you can take that well-deserved break from social media and spend some time doing something else that you enjoy.

What are some other tips you can give journalists to take care of their mental health? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.

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If you are a freelance journalist or content creator, then be sure to check out these Five ways to avoid freelancer burnout.
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