After Deadline: Tips for journalists on dealing with trauma

The Idaho media has covered difficult issues recently.

Whether reporting on mass casualty incidents, sexual assault, shootings, or horrific traffic accidents, exposure to traumatic events can take its toll on newsrooms. Here are some tips on dealing with the stress of trauma, with help from the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma:

  • Make sure you get time away from work. Maintaining a work-life balance is critical after covering violent or disturbing events. Walk away from your screens, find time to unwind, and make sure you’re talking to friends or loved ones.
  • Take care of the basics. Drink water. Eat regularly. Get enough sleep. Go for a walk and clear your head. Yes, these are no-brainers, but dehydration and exhaustion don’t just make you feel lousy. They compound stress.
  • Watch your alcohol intake. A drink might help you unwind after an awful day. But drinking too much can interfere with your sleep, and a hangover is guaranteed to make your difficult week even worse.
  • Ask your HR department for resources on counseling. Many insurance plans offer a set number of counseling sessions through Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), with subsequent visits usually covered by co-pays.
  • Communicate with your supervisors. If you’re getting overwhelmed, let them know. Editors and producers, watch for increased irritability among reporters.

The Dart Center website has more tipsheets and information on PTSD and trauma in journalism.

Taking care of yourself won’t just help your mental health. It will help you stay sharp and focused on the job.