A medical study into how journalists chasing deadlines cope so well with stress was launched at a London Press Club event this week.
The study being undertaken by neuroscientist Dr Tara Swart into the mental resilience of journalists will include working with volunteers who will have their heart rate and testosterone monitored as part of the research.
The launch was held at the London Corinthia Hotel, and attended by journalists from across the media industry; writers, broadcasters, producers, documentary makers, and online and social media.
Dr Swart’s fascination with mentally resilient professions stems from her work with leaders of the world’s most successful companies, helping them achieve peak brain performance to gain a competitive edge. She explained at the launch of the study that she wanted to extend the benefits of her experience as a neuroscience leadership coach as well as a senior lecturer at MIT and medical doctor, to other sectors, starting with journalists.
Dr Swart said: “As a neuroscientist, I am interested in understanding professions where individuals display great mental resilience, despite circumstances that would normally cause stress and high levels of cortisol. There have been studies into the mental resilience of stressful occupations such as soldiers and traders, but none like this on journalists. I am really interested to see the similarities which makes them better suited to their profession.”
Pressure from deadlines, accountability and exposure, instant online feedback and social media interaction, coupled with the intense change occurring in the media industry at the moment, means that journalists are an ideal group to study. Tara explained that measuring levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and testosterone (relates to risk taking and confidence), heart rate variability, and brain-body connection in journalists, can help to understand what might be happening in journalists’ brains during a typical day, week or month.
Doug Wills, Chairman of the London Press Club and Managing Editor of the London Evening Standard said: “Journalism is a stressful job in an industry undergoing major change. Journalists play a hugely important role in society – keeping business and government accountable, at the same time as providing up-to-date, accurate news. It is important to understand how and what makes those journalists who thrive on pressure best able to cope with the strains and stresses of the job. This will undoubtedly help all journalists as well as the industry itself, which needs to look after their health and interests.”
Journalists who take part in the study will receive a fascinating insight into their own brain, as well as a comparison to the results of the study, and valuable personalised feedback from Dr Swart. They will also receive the results of the full study as soon as they are finalised.
[The Corinthia Hotel London has partnered on the project as its ESPA Life offers a UK-first: mindfulness therapies. Mindfulness is at the core of wellness and one of Dr Swart’s key areas of focus for building resilience.]
To apply to take part in the study, follow this link.