Whatever your diet of news consumption was before the pandemic, it’s likely in the last three years you’ve watched more updates, press conferences, and alerts about natural disasters and world events than in previous ones.
Collectively, we’ve been immersed in a rolling stream of overwhelming – and at times traumatic – stories that put pressure on our personal circumstances and unrelentingly cause us to look upon the suffering of others.
We have the choice to switch off, and it’s healthy to do so, but for the reporters bringing us the news there’s less opportunity to disengage.
Angela Cox has been a reporter with Channel 7 for over 17 years with a career that spans Australia, the US, and Europe, covering some of the biggest events in America’s recent history from the Boston Bombings, to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the inauguration of President Barack Obama to name a few.
Now, Angela anchors the weekend bulletin alongside fellow seasoned journalist Michael Usher and says self-care has become a vital part of her job.
“I’ve definitely learned self-care since I got back from the States,” Angela said.
“I didn’t have a lot over there, because it’s a very hectic job, and I developed some autoimmune issues [and] realised ‘this is your body saying you need to have rest’.
“I didn’t have a lot of self care [in the US]… and I developed some autoimmune issues [and] realised ‘this is your body saying you need to have rest’.”
“I’ve made a conscious effort now to give myself ‘self-care time’ – which is in the ocean for me – and it’s my space to just be in the moment and practice gratitude, and practice clearing my head.”
“But I think all journos and producers by and large, you do have to have some level of filter [because] most stories will bring you to your knees if you let them.”
“[Journalists are] empathetic and you care about people [so] of course you get emotional, but there also has to be a level of professionalism.”
Self-Care in the Midst of Personal Pain
Holding it together for the cameras has required something more from Angela throughout the pandemic, as the virus that saw so many of us distanced from loved ones and alienated from community in many ways, also kept her away from her mum who’d just been diagnosed with a terminal cancer.
“It was a leveller,” Angela said. “There’s not a person who survived Covid, the pandemic, without a story that’ll break your heart.”
“I was dealing with [mum’s illness] with work stuff, and was like ‘I’m not coping at the moment, I’m doing it tough’,” Angela said.
She took up the offer of free external counselling sessions her workplace provides, and now recommends the service to any colleagues – especially the junior ones – she sees struggling.
“I tell them, ‘Make sure you use it, don’t be ashamed. I’ve done it, a lot of people have done it, if you need it take it’”, Angela said.
Thankfully her mum has since been able to relocate closer to family in Sydney and continue her treatment, but Angela said the hardship of those years and her mum’s ongoing illness has reframed her approach to work and clarified her priorities.
“So much noise can happen outside [of ourselves] from other people, but it can also happen in my own head – I overthink too much,” Angela said.
“I ask myself, ‘how does this serve me, letting this take up space in my head? Is anyone going to die as a result of this?’
“Let’s take it back to the most essential.”
Now, Angela’s new ritual of self-care in the ocean functions as “the oxygen mask” she places on herself before visiting her mum, “so I’ve got everything to give her”.
“I’m focusing on the people I care about, being the best human I can be, and don’t worry what other people say”, Angela said.
Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media. Laura Bennett is a media professional, broadcaster and writer from Sydney, Australia.
Feature image: Angela Cox / Instagram