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Dr. Shabnam Asthana, PR expert opines how clutching on to the straw of mental resilience helps you stay afloat in the swamp of the pandemic!

How the PR profession gives you a million reasons to flounder but mental strength helps you hold on !

There is no denying that the world is changing and everything is in a state of flux. Relationships are acquiring new definitions, our everyday existence is struggling  to adapt to different algorithms in a desperate bid to provide a meaningful whole. Yes the current pandemic has changed it all – we are swamped by the sea of uncertainty with the powerful message of adapt or perish.

Jobs, professions, work, call it what you may are all struggling to adapt to the new normal and adopt different pandemic friendly practices. My profession – Public Relations that pooh poohed the idea of a 9 – 5 desk job and instead  boasted of personal networking and face to face contact for professional success is now left  wide eyed looking incredulously at the mandate of social distancing.

How does a profession like PR where success is  defined by your networking skills and personal interactions survive in this age of social distancing and self-isolation?

I remember my team staring at me and my clients panicking on how to see the pre committed events through in the wake of the National or global closure , with the world coming to a standstill. My overworked brain and hands and feet numb with the initial shock of the COVID 19 office and work closures unleashed feelings and emotions of hopelessness and despair. I had a team to support, salaries to shell out, personal expenses to be met,  how would I be able to do it all?  I remember the turmoil raging inside me as I worked extremely hard not to disturb the stoic calmness of my exterior. I was the captain of the ship wasn’t I?  so a solution had to be reached and that too very soon.

Never had I realised the meaning of crisis management in PR better than I do now. It is wonderful how the human mind can come up with ideas to work under pressure, especially in the PR industry. The current PR landscape is clouded with retainer ship cheques on hold, cancelled contracts, events and press conferences nowhere on the radar and all other routine and scheduled activity on hold. My active mind with the never say die attitude pondered over various possibilities and devised new strategies and methods where work does not come to a standstill and finally came up with an ingenious solution. I decided to encash on the virtual world and all its offerings. A team brainstorming and presto – we were ready with client friendly solutions of conducting virtual meets and conferences and even events.

I realised that while it was very easy to give up and sink into the mire of depression, mental resilience to face all odds was the need of the hour and which to my surprise I discovered I possessed in good measure.

The success mantra I discovered when life knocks one down professionally and personally –

Our mental resilience is tested when life throws us a challenge. The most recent challenge has come to us in the face of this grim pandemic which has invaded our personal and professional space ruthlessly.

When we consciously imbibe the philosophy of staying tough in the face of adversity and not buckling under pressure we are on the right path of emerging winners. A few key factors are that are needed to stay mentally tough and resilient during challenges are:

  • Controlling Anxiety :

Managing stress effectively and engaging in meditation or yoga to eliminate negativity and induce calmness is very advantageous in such situations.

  • Positive Thinking :

It is very important to believe in one’s ability and inculcate a great degree of self- confidence to rise above all odds. Bringing out the positivity in all situations works wonders for mental resilience.

  • Setting Goals :

Working towards objectives and goals eliminates any aimlessness and creates a sense of purpose

  • Visualization :

This is an excellent tool for managing stress. It helps control performance anxiety and overwhelming situations.  If you close your eyes and imagine a time that you succeeded in a similar situation it will work wonders. This is not limited to just the visual but includes the feeling that envelops you along with the visual.

  • Controlling attention

Focus is the key here. If your mind is in control of the situation, your attention is also constant and helps you achieve your goals faster.

Staying afloat and active in the current pandemic ,requires you to shift gears and adapt by pivoting the existing ideas and concepts in the new normal – and all this by staying physically fit and mentally resilient !

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