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mark@markwall.co.uk

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Always on duty?

I read a report this morning about the dangers of poor mental health for PR professionals. The Wellbeing Guide from Charity Comms is an excellent piece of work and a timely warning. I recommend it, and them.(https://www.charitycomms.org.uk/wellbeing-guide)

But I won’t be worrying.

The tricky thing for me is that one of my proud boasts is that I am always on duty; I always answer the phone; I never hide away or cause delay. I know that my clients, and journalists I need to work with, don’t want an answerphone message or an out of office, they get too much of that already. They pay me because I’m there when they need me, and they don’t have to pay me when I’m not. Rather than having someone in the office with the pay clock ticking, I’m available to be used as and when; like a flexible PR tap. But a tap that communicates really well and has both a strategically sound mind and a tactical understanding of media cycles. So not really like a tap at all.

So how is my mental health? I feel fine. The kids keep me sane, the dog keeps me active, Netflix keeps me relaxed. I would prefer to be available rather than have strict hours.

The bonus of course is that I am not always busy. So I did watch far more of the Ashes than many of my industry colleagues and me and Daisy have the time to pound the canal path in search of fitness and fresh air. (The “c” in that last sentence is fairly important.)

It is hardly a radical view to say that we all need balance. It might be slightly more radical to say that there are not any rules that everyone needs to follow. Loads of people tell me to turn my phone off at weekend or leave the laptop at home when I go on holiday. But I enjoy my weekends more and throw myself into holidays with greater abandon (Olu Deniz this year as you ask) because I know I am in contact and can sort things out. Otherwise I’d worry about hundreds of emails and lost contracts.

So look at the Charity Comms piece, take their advice if it works for you and look after yourself. But don’t follow any rules that you don’t want to.

Must go, the phone’s ringing….

You don’t have to do valentines

I’ve never been a fan of Valentine’s Day.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to think of myself as romantic. I love flowers; I like the little gesture that means a lot; I am not averse to candlelight and good food.

But the trouble with Valentine’s Day is the pressure. You simply must be paired up, happy and “loved up” or somehow you are a failure. This one day out of 365 it is essential to be in some kind of idyllic relationship. And the pressure is significant. Cards everywhere, red hearts in every shop, roses and soppy music wherever you turn.

This has two effects

Firstly, for those people in relationships it creates yet more stress to be the perfect partner. It is almost impossible to live up to the hype and be a wonderful valentine. And relationships in the modern world are tricky enough without this added pressure.

And for single people it can be a difficult day. Whether they want to be in a relationship or not, it seems as if the world and the media are shouting at them for being alone.

Why does this matter? Surely it is just a way for the card manufacturers, the flower sellers and the restaurants to drum up business. Well, yes and no.

Researchers in the US recently reviewed over 200 studies into loneliness that looked at 4 million individuals. What they concluded was quite shocking. They found that loneliness and social isolation pose a greater risk to public health than obesity.

Dr Holt-Lunstad of the Brigham Young University of Utah said: “There is robust evidence that social isolation and loneliness significantly increase risk for premature mortality, and the magnitude of the risk exceeds that of many leading health indicators. With an increasing aging population, the effect on public health is only anticipated to increase. Indeed, many nations around the world now suggest we are facing a ‘loneliness epidemic’.”

To be blunt, loneliness kills.

So maybe the huge and over dramatic emphasis on Valentine’s Day is not helpful, simply exacerbating the loneliness that many people feel.

At Healthwatch Bristol we are launching a campaign “You don’t have to do Valentines!” Feel free to celebrate it if you want, but don’t feel that you have to. There is nothing wrong with being on your own, or being with a partner but ignoring the whole thing.

So keep an eye on our twitter feed that will celebrate lots of great things that happened on 14th Feb throughout the years, and use #youdonthavetodovalentines to tell us what you are doing this year.

And me? Well, me and daisy will be sitting on the sofa, cuddled up, watching telly.

Blog - You don't have to do valentines 2