Your mental health is as important as your physical wellbeing but knowing where to look for help can sometimes be overwhelming. Here you will find advice and resources specifically for freelance journalists.
Some practical tips to get started from Prof. Anthony Feinstein, expert in journalist trauma:
- Unplug from the negative side of social media. Limit email, twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram where possible.
- Avoid the 24 hour news cycle.
- Don’t listen repeatedly to the news, especially before going to bed.
- Have a good night’s sleep.
- Nutrition: don’t overdo caffeine, alcohol or sugar.
- Take short breaks during your workday.
- Structure time with family. Have dinner together. See the positives here.
- Maintain social contacts, stay in touch by phone, video call etc.
- Avoid catastrophic thinking in which you stack one negative thought on top of another. If you catch yourself doing this, interrupt it with a positive distractor.
- Have quiet periods of reflection. Stay in the moment, keep your focus on the moment. Step back to gain a better perspective.
- Make a list of enjoyable activities. Music, movies, reading etc. Use respite as a form of resilience.
Mindfulness & Meditation
The practice of Mindfulness involves being aware of your thoughts and feelings without distraction or judgment to relax the body and mind. It can be an effective tool in giving you respite from anxiety, depression and other mental challenges.
Apps available: Headspace, CALM, The Mindfulness app.
Meditation is an intentional practice, where you use focus to increase calmness, concentration, awareness, and emotional balance.
There are various forms of therapy that can help you deal with mental health challenges. The most common are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) & Psychotherapy. Access to these may be available on your national health service, or you can pay for a private service.
If you are not sure which is the right one for you, do some research into the different therapies on offer and choose one to start. You can always change your mind after a few sessions. Don’t be deterred, there is no quick fix but therapy will definitely help in the long term.
Journalism & Trauma: Stuart Hughes & Anthony Feinstein in Conversation, an RPT webinar.
The Self-Investigation, a free online program designed to support journalists with knowledge and evidence-based practices.