Self-Care and Community Radio

“Practicing self-care is especially important if you’re a leader in your organization,” Katie Hawkins-Gaar recently shared. “If you set the example that the only way to succeed is by working endless hours, you’re perpetuating a vicious cycle.”

And so opens one of the most overlooked conversations in community radio: self-care and well-being. In a space where low pay, few-to-no health benefits and long hours are too often the norm, not accepting those issues is often judged. Pressure to achieve particular goals at stations with these dynamics can lead to burnout and soured relations. These problems, combined with failing to invest in people, perpetuates a lack of diversity as well.

The self-care movement has emerged as a way to take care of our mental, emotional and physical health. Of late, as stress and depression have gone up for media workers dealing with difficult situations, self-care in media circles has gained popularity. Maybe you don’t think you or your station needs to think about self-care, but you probably do.

Feeling overwhelmed? Tangling with imposter syndrome? Needing a breather from the demands of the work you do, so you can be your best? You probably need self-care more than you know.

Here are just a few reads on self-care for community media people, and inspiration from others dealing with challenges:

  • Kid Cudi is perhaps one of the most high-profile artists to publicly detail his mental health struggles and suicidal feelings. In a new interview, he talks about how he centered his life and way of thinking, which may inform our own outlooks. “I’m just creating a lot, with more love in my heart for what I’m doing and for myself. Living a healthy life, keeping my family around and staying on a mission, which is making music that means something. I’m focusing on my art again and throwing myself back into it and wanting to write something with more of a positive outlook on things, because I’ve written the dark so well for so long. I wanted to bring the opposite of that, you know? I’m at a place where I was able to do that. It took me so long to get to that place, and I was really excited to write from that standpoint when I got there.”
  • The Online News Association’s 2019 conference featured a session on self-care and well-being. You can check out insights from it here.
  • “Showing up for other people is hard to describe, but you know it when you see it, or when someone does it for you. When we talk about showing up, we’re talking about bearing witness to other people’s pain, joy, and true selves; validating their experiences; easing their load; truly seeing them; and communicating that they are not alone in this life. Showing up is at the core of creating and maintaining strong meaningful bonds with friends, family, coworkers, and Internet pals. It’s what turns the people you know into your people.” It feels great when people do it for us, and here are 60+ ways to do it for others.
  • Some of us came to community media to find fulfillment from other careers. And if you’re dealing with self-confidence problems, look for no better guidance than this: How To Regain Confidence After Leaving That Toxic Hellhole You Called A Job.
  • Nonprofit AF suggests a few techniques to enjoy your breaks when your overthinking brain won’t be quiet. “For many of us though, even when we are not at the office, we’re not exactly on a break. This is due to several reasons. Our field tends to attract people who care a lot about others; nonprofit work does not end when we go home; and the complexity of the work combined with the fact that we care about people means we’re always trying to read up on the latest research or model or thinking of new strategies or whatever. There are always more things we could and should be doing.” 

You are encouraged to follow NFCB’s website for more on these issues. You can get a weekly summary of posts here.

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