If you’re finding yourself not performing at your best the past months, you’re not the only one. The past 9 months or so had been surreal, from natural disasters, to a pandemic, to civil unrest, to one of the most heated elections, it was impossible to get a break. This is especially true for government agency social media managers whose job is to be updated with the news cycle and relay pieces related to the news significant to the agency they’re affiliated with and the constituents it serves. Despite being the voice of the organizations that are often the focus of public scrutiny, social media managers are human, and dealing with all the conversations across social media platforms, can get overwhelming if not downright toxic.
Katie Nelson is back on the Justice Clearinghouse, this time around sharing her experience in her role as Social Media and Public Relations Coordinator at the Mountain View Police Department in Northern California. Katie was elected in October as secretary for the PIO section of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and is an instructor with the California Office of Emergency Services.
Specifics of the discussion revolved around:
- The challenges that 2020 brought so far for public sector entities and the stress to social media managers that represent them online.
- What stress does to our bodies:
- Physical changes that happen when the body experiences stress.
- How stress in short-bursts optimizes certain brain processes.
- How repeated and prolonged stress result in changes in brain function.
- Understanding how social media influences our reward center and emotions, and its addictive nature.
- How the brain is hardwired to focus on negativity which is compounded through social media exposure.
- The concept of anticipatory grief that a lot of people are experiencing with the uncertainty of events that are unfolding one after another throughout the world.
- Reviewing all the things that we, particularly social media managers, have not been able to do recently preventing us from recovering and feeling a bit better.
- The importance of the small steps we can do to be a little gentler on ourselves which can impact how we show up to the world and the voice social media managers adopt for the agencies they represent.
- Utilizing support networks of people we love, trust, and can lean on when we need it the most.
- Intentionally focusing on the positives and doing activities and habits that bring that positive mindset.
- Accepting that it is okay to be not okay while practicing mindfulness in our actions and intentions for us to recover.
- Self-care dos and don’ts to serve as guidance and assimilate into our daily lives to get to a positive headspace.
- The value in acknowledging how we truly feel, knowing that we are not alone and that there are resources that we can connect with to help us overcome our challenges.
Audience questions were about:
- The prevalence of social media use in youth.
- Supporting staff beyond merely telling them to reach out to EAP.
- Combating the effects of bad publicity that originated in social media.
- Taking that much-needed break when everyone’s plates are filled to capacity.
Resources and Handouts
- “This was very helpful by including aspects of the pandemic, the election, etc., not just one thing. Great!” — Tonya
- “Long term stress can alter the brain.” I guess we all know this on some level, but hearing Katie say it out loud was a wake-up call.” — Penny
- “The presenter’s first-hand account of the effects of stress was most valuable and relatable. Thank you for sharing that personal experience.” — Megan
- “Great presentation on a very, very, very important topic. Covid has changed everybody’s lives it is important to know that it is OK not to be OK however there are resources out there one can reach out to make sure that they are handling mental health issues related to Covid so that they can be the best version of themselves rather than what’s left.” — Marie
- “I work in mental health, not in any media capacity, but I know my work has suffered from the stress I personally receive from the media so I appreciate just the information and encouragement to know I’m not alone and a reminder that it’s OK to remove those people or that information, even if just for a moment. Thank you.” — Megan
- “It was a great reminder to be intentional about taking care of yourself. It gave me some new ideas of different ways that I can further implement self-care into my lifestyle.” — Nelly
- “It was just a really great reminder that we are all struggling and that a lot of the negativity we receive is not necessarily directed towards us. Katie was the best presenter I’ve seen in a long time!” — Alison