Top 3 self-care tips for journalists from NPR’s Life Kit managing producer

Photo by John Poole/NPR

Need a little assistance getting your life in order? 

Enter NPR’s Life Kit — a life skills podcast and newsletter offering advice on topics from health and personal finances to parenting and relationships. 

We reached out to Meghan Keane, Life Kit’s founder and managing producer, to find out how the team selects what advice resonates most with its audience and her top self-care tips for journalists. 

Since the pandemic began, how has your work at Life Kit changed?

Keane: We went to all-remote in March, like so many others. We’ve had to become in-home recording experts for both ourselves and our guests. Before, we could ask a guest to go to a local member station to record an interview, but now we walk them through how to record themselves. 

What new things does your audience want or need to learn right now? 

Keane: Life Kit was originally conceived of as an evergreen library. But since the coronavirus pandemic, our listeners want to know more urgent information about living in a global health crisis. Since last March, we’ve done episodes about how to safely grocery shop, understanding how to properly use masks, and assessing risk of activities. But we’ve also expanded our mental health coverage. We’ve done more episodes about meditation and anxiety and our listeners really respond well to those. 

How do you select which topics will be of the most value to your audience?

Keane: I think the best Life Kit episodes are the ones that come out the exact moment you need it. Our team thinks about what’s happening that week, what people might be feeling, what resources would really help them in that moment. It’s a bit of guesswork, but we find anticipating what people need in a moment has been successful. 

Can you describe some of the struggles your readers have right now that they didn’t 3-to-6-to-12 months ago?

Keane: I think everyone is experiencing an uptick in generalized anxiety and loneliness. Everything during this pandemic feels just a little harder (if not a lot harder), so I would say our listeners have been interested in how to keep their mental health afloat, how to find joy and connection now more than ever. 

What are your top three tips for journalists to improve their self-care routines?

Keane: I always recommend meditation as one of the best things you can do for self-care. Even if you don’t like meditating, there are so many other mindfulness exercises that lower the bar to entry (Go Google: five sense meditation). 

Scheduling in time to put the phone down. Even if it’s just for an hour — put the phone on airplane mode and set it across the room from you. Even just limiting the amount of push alerts helps. 

Getting enough sleep. If you’re struggling to fall asleep, don’t stay in bed. Try only getting into your bed once you’re actually tired. Same goes for when you wake up in the middle of the night — get out of bed immediately and go read in another room until you’re tired. I learned this from our insomnia episode and it works wonders. 

How are you taking care of yourself during the pandemic?

Keane: I’m trying to prioritize connection and mental health. I talk to my mom on the phone once a day, I group text my girlfriends from college frequently. I make the effort to reach out to friends and be the scheduler of the socially distanced walk. I also try to find ways to make those conversations not just about the pandemic with a game or talking about TV or movies. Exercise and being outdoors are critical for me so I make sure to track those in my journal, which motivates me to do them. Also, having a pandemic puppy helps!


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