By: Mandy Mitchell
If you’ve been in this business long enough you have had your share of ruts. It’s the time when your mind is pretty negative about most things. You think about the bad stuff of the business.
I tend think about how I’ve been working weekends for 13 years and have worked most every holiday for 13 years and how I can’t take time off more than 3 months of the year.
Can’t take March because that’s the NCAA tournament! Can’t take February because that’s sweeps! Can’t take August-December because that’s football season!
It is very very easy to fall into this trap of thinking about the negative stuff, especially when you are burned out after a big project or just a long stretch of time of grinding day after day. We all know this isn’t a 9-5 job. We all know we are going to have to work bad hours and holidays and all of that, but what we don’t really talk about is what to do when that stuff begins to weigh on you and when it takes the joy out of what is actually good about the job.
Telling yourself to “think good thoughts!” doesn’t do much to get you out of a really deep TV news rut. Neither does thinking about how great it would be to get a “normal job” and looking around for things you could to do have a “normal life.”
There are a few things that can help.
- Have a good cry. It certainly helps me to completely unload all of the negativity at one time. The stuff we do isn’t glamorous. It’s ok to admit that and just let it out. You would not be the first and will not be the last to do this.
- Talk to someone who does the same job you do in another market. Just call them up and tell them you need to vent and then do that. You will quickly find you both have the same stories to tell and it will almost become comical. If you choose to vent to someone else in your own newsroom, you can often be misunderstood and come off as a “complainer.” We all need vent time. The best person to vent to is someone who gets what you do 100%. Reporters, anchors, producers, and assignment editors all have problems, but they are slightly different problems. It helps to talk to someone with your specific job.
- Find your “happy place.” The place at the TV station that reminds me why I got into the business is the control room. For whatever reason, it still seems cool to me. The lights, the monitors, the buttons! If I am ever feeling sad, I just go into the control room for a block of the news and stand in the back. It reminds me that, while this job can suck, it’s also a pretty cool thing to be a part of live TV. Find a place you can go that can do the same for you. It allows you to take a step back and appreciate where you work and what you do.
- Take a long walk or hike that isn’t part of your daily exercise routine (if you have one.) Find a park and walk, with no music, for an hour. If you have places to hike, do that. Just being in nature for a longer period of time will clear your mind. Try not to think about what’s burning you out. Just focus on the walk.
- Watch a local newscast from a bigger market. Find a station you like and admire and watch what they do. That will remind you of your goals and remind you that TV news can be fun.
Most of us who are in this business are really ambitious and have big goals. The flip side of that is learning how to deal with the stress and pressure those big goals can bring. You can be a mostly positive and happy person and still pretty darn burned out a couple of times of the year. Just learn to recognize the rut for what it is and take steps to pull yourself out.