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8 Hospitality Industry Professionals Share Tips for Managing Stress This National Stress Awareness Month

Silencing Stress

Paramedics. Head chefs. Emergency room nurses. Judges. Military members. Police officers. Meeting and event planners.

These are among the most stressful jobs in the world.

Some (like paramedics and emergency room nurses) are easier to guess than others—like meeting and event planners. Unless, of course, you are a meeting and event planner. Then, you’re undoubtedly aware of the high stress levels that come alongside a career in planning—you might even be feeling them right now. 

In 2023, a study by the World Scholarship Vault ranked meeting and event planners as the third-most stressful job in the world, falling below only military service members and home health aides. Zippia, a job site and online recruiter, ranked event planners at No. 6 on its list of the seven most stressful jobs in 2023.

According to the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), which provides occupation-specific data related to U.S. jobs, meeting, convention and event planners require one of the highest levels of stress tolerance in comparison to other careers. On O*NET’s list ranking 873 jobs based on stress levels, meeting planning appears within the top 15, requiring a stress tolerance level of 95 out of 100 that puts planners in competition with nurse anesthetists, psychologists, healthcare social workers and special education teachers in the stress sweepstakes.

Stress, unfortunately, comes with the job, but one thing that makes it easier to be a meeting planner is having healthy coping skills for when those overwhelming moments do take over. Since April is National Stress Awareness Month, what better time is there to work on your stress management skills than now?

Read on for tips and tricks for managing stress, along with insights from your fellow industry professionals, that you can weave into your work routine this National Stress Awareness Month.

[Related: My Transformational Experience With Body & Brain Wellness in Sedona, Arizona]

The Importance of Stress Management

Everyone deals with stress, and not all stress is bad stress, but high levels of stress for long periods of time can lead to bad things. 

Mayo Clinic explains it well in that the human brain is “hard-wired with an alarm system for your protection.” When your brain perceives a threat, it sends a signal to that alarm system, and your body releases a “burst of hormones” that can increase your heartrate, raise your blood pressure and cause other stress-related symptoms that last until that threat is no longer something to be worried about. 

Stress Management
Stress Management

Unfortunately, though, the reality of modern life is that those threats seemingly never stop coming, whether they be in the form of sitting in traffic, catching up on emails or preventing an event with more than 1,000 attendees from falling apart. And when your brain’s “alarm system” is turned on 24/7, that chronic stress can lead to serious health problems like heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and depression. 

While it’s impossible to avoid stress completely, having healthy coping strategies can prevent chronic stress from leading to these types of health problems. Kristine Iverson, founder and president of Crow Practice, knows about the effects of chronic stress firsthand.

“In my early 20s, I did not have the tools needed to balance stress,” Iverson said. “I had a nervous breakdown while working on cruise ships. I disembarked from the ship on a stretcher and spent days in Portugal sedated until I flew home. I was embarrassed and ashamed of this horrific experience; only close family and friends knew.”

Iverson, who now speaks on stress management and has a keynote titled “Thrive Over Stress,” learned from that experience how important it is to manage stress. She now makes it a priority to not only manage her own, but to help others learn why and how they should manage their stress, too. 

“If we do not manage our stress, it will cause emotional, mental and philosophical burnout. The negative effects will spill over into every area of life—at home, at work and socially,” Iverson said. “Burnout can change your body and make you vulnerable to illnesses like colds and the flu. Over time, chronic stress can lead to serious health problems. It is estimated that 90% of doctor visits have an element of stress.”

[Related Podcast: The Burnout Is Real: Setting Boundaries and Amplifying Your Value

Stress Management Tips From Industry Professionals

Managing stress looks different for everyone, and the coping skills that work well for one person may not be helpful at all for someone else, but learning from others how they manage high stress levels can also lead to new ideas for coping skills of your own.

Here are a few tips and tricks from industry professionals about how they best deal with high levels of stress in the job and on the road.

Kristine Iverson, Founder and President, Crow Practice

Kristine Iverson
Kristine Iverson

Let’s talk about stress management tools from a psychological perspective.

The single greatest predictor of effective stress management is your perception of a stress-inducing situation, according to Psychology Today. The more control you “perceive” yourself to have over a stressful situation, the less damaging your stress is overall. Regardless of if you have control or not, exercising personal choice in a stressful situation can lessen the impact of stress.

My tips include trying: 

  • The Pomodoro Technique: Our bodies are meant to move! It’s been proven that to increase efficacy and productivity, we want to take more breaks. The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management method developed in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. Each interval is known as a pomodoro, from the Italian word for “tomato,” after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that developer Francesco Cirillo used as a university student. Helpful websites to practice the Pomodoro Technique are and
  • The Shake: There are several techniques to help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. One is called “The Shake.” Just like you would shake your hands dry after washing them if there is no paper towel or dryer, do this with your hands for 10-15 seconds after a pomodoro work sprint.
  • Self-massage: Where do you think the most common place our bodies store stress is? The trapezius muscle—our shoulders! You can give yourself a neck and shoulder rub at any time during the day. It’s an excellent way to take a break!
  • Making a wellness board: A favorite technique of mine is to write on a whiteboard a long list of self-care options, at least 20-30 of them. When you’re in a state of mental exhaustion, even knowing what you need is a challenge. Do the mental work beforehand. When 30 options for self-care are in front of you, you can stop, breathe and feel into your body. Ask yourself, “What do I need right now? What is going to serve me best?” You already did the pre-work of coming up with 30 different ideas. Now, all that is required from you is to see what options feel best at that moment.

Reina Herschdorfer, Director of Marketing, National Meetings & Events, Caesars Entertainment

In the whirlwind of a busy life, managing stress becomes paramount. Implementing a repertoire of strategies can make all the difference. 

Reina Herschdorfer
Reina Herschdorfer

Here is my running list of different strategies for coping with stress on the go:

  • Practice deep breathing exercises while in between meetings and while traveling.
  • Bring your vitamins and keep healthy snacks like almonds, goji berries or dark chocolate on hand to maintain energy levels.
  • Use mindfulness apps for quick meditation sessions.
  • Prioritize tasks and create to-do lists to stay organized and focused.
  • Stay hydrated by always carrying a reusable water bottle with you.
  • Utilize aromatherapy with portable essential oil rollers or sprays for calming effects. Lavender to relax and Bergamot for positivity.
  • Plan daily yoga and stretching to relieve muscle tension and improve circulation.
  • Take advantage of noise-canceling headphones to create a peaceful environment, or simply listen to soothing music with your earbuds.
  • Set boundaries and schedule regular breaks.
  • Reach out to supportive friends, family or colleagues for a quick chat or in person.
  • Carry a book or e-reader to indulge, evolve and relax during breaks.
  • Journal and focus on yourself.
  • Don’t neglect your sleep, and bring sleepy-time tea to help you get a good night’s sleep.

By integrating these practices into daily life, professionals can navigate stress with grace and fortitude, ensuring a harmonious balance between work and well-being.

[Related: Caesars' New Meetings Wellness Menu Prescribes a Healthy Dose of Program Options]

Maritsa Victorian, Area Director of Spa, Bardessono Hotel & Spa

Maritsa Victorian
Maritsa Victorian

It is essential for me to start my days with a five- to 20-minute meditation. I prefer 20, but studies show even five minutes in morning meditation has the power to positively set the tone for your entire day.

To maintain calmness throughout the day, I keep a wine glass or brandy snifter glass at my desk with drops of essential oil in it to breathe throughout the day, as these glasses are best to inhale the aromatic bouquet. I recommend Aromatherapy Associates Inner Strength blend. I also keep Yon-Ka's Vital Defense Mist on my desk. It is rich in plant polyphenols that work synergistically to stop the free radical damage that "environmental pollution" causes to skin (including blue light pollution from the computer and other devices).

Yon-Ka's Lotion, multi-action Dry Skin Toner is the best aromatic treatment mist. It invigorates and revitalizes the skin and energizes and awakens the senses. My spa staff enjoys coming to my office for a quick spritz in the middle of our busy schedules. 

There is nothing like a bath at the end of a long day in one of our amazing in-room soaking tubs with our Vital Body CBD bath salts. It relaxes the mind and really eases muscle aches.

Rowland Cheeks, Area Director of Sales & Marketing, Caption by Hyatt Centric Beale Street Memphis

Rowland Cheeks
Rowland Cheeks

It's important to make time for yourself while on the road, and one way to make sure you do so is by making time to enjoy your hobbies. Do you love crocheting or puzzling? Find 20 minutes in your day to partake in that at your hotel. Personally, I'm a car fanatic. If I'm traveling for work, I'll always do a quick search to see if an antique car show happens to be taking place in the area so I can swing by. Or if I'm out and about and a special car catches my eye, I pause to take five minutes out of my day to admire it.

Having a stress journal can be a powerful tool as well. If you're feeling overwhelmed, a journal can help to visually see what tasks or actions are taking a mental toll. Seeing it all together is a good way to notice if there are patterns or commonalities between them that you could approach differently or help you to reframe your mindset and how to best address it.

[Related: Try These Micro Habits to Achieve Your New Year’s Goals]

Jaleesa Honrade, Spa Director, The Vinoy Resort and Golf Club

Stress is and can be a major contributor to many health issues, both physically and mentally. Managing stress in an unhealthy way will only amplify any potential health risks and emotional trauma that could occur. Discovering healthy ways to manage stress can lead to a longer and happier life. 

Jaleesa Honrade
Jaleesa Honrade

Meeting planners can incorporate a morning routine to start their day right. They can begin with a simple three- to five-minute meditation, a three- to five-minute sun salutation or any form of stretching to release tension from a minimal night's sleep. Essential oil roller balls are a nice thing to keep on hand; taking a moment to breathe in the good and exhale the stress. One deep breath can go a long way.

Incorporating wellness and stress relief into a conference itself can also help keep attendees' stress levels down, allowing them some reprieve. We are witnessing a growing trend of groups incorporating wellness into their conferences. Many are eager to take advantage of the spa services offered at The Vinoy Resort and Golf Club, such as massages and facials as well as exercise offerings like workout classes and golf. We are also booking numerous yoga sessions and wellness walks for our groups. These sessions are hosted at the beginning of the day to energize attendees and prepare them for a day filled with information. We have received amazing feedback from group attendees who feel ready to take on the day after participating. 

I would love to see groups offering in-room wellness amenities such as percussive therapy, calming facial masks, sleep spray, guided meditation apps. I think having that alone time in the room after a long day is vital to reduce stress that comes from the information overload of a conference.   

Georges Midleje, Regional Managing Director, Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa­–Grand Universe Lucca

Georges Midleje
Georges Midleje

It's no secret that staying active and working out is good for you—not just physically, but mentally as well. However, that doesn't always mean that you have to hit the gym at 6 a.m. and have an intense workout before starting the workday. It could be as simple as going for a leisurely walk between calls or while enjoying your morning cup of coffee. I'm blessed with Renaissance Tuscany as my office because going for a walk between meetings means I get to enjoy views of the Serchio Valley and lush Tuscan scenery. I always feel a bit more relaxed after I walk around a bit and take it all in. 

I think it's also important to stay connected while traveling. Planning events and trips can be overwhelming at times, and it's easy to feel as though work is taking over your life. Initiating calls and video chats with friends and family while on the go helps to break it up. It's a fantastic way to feel a sense of community and feel grounded beyond work.

[Related: Be You Disco Brings Teams Together Through Dance, Music and Mindfulness]

Natalia Desario-Pedroza, Spa Director, Mandara Spa and Yulia Chazova, Director of Wellness Experience, Wailea Beach Resort

Natalia Desario-Pedroza
Natalia Desario-Pedroza

Developing healthy stress management techniques equips individuals with effective coping strategies to deal with life's challenges, enhancing resilience and enabling them to bounce back from setbacks and adapt more easily to change. 

Meeting planners can incorporate several simple stress management coping skills into their routines while hosting or attending events or in crowded settings: 

  • Essential oil inhalation: Planners can use calming essential oils like lavender (or an essential oil that resonates with them at the time) by placing a few drops into their hands, rubbing them together and then cupping their hands to their face for inhalation. This can promote relaxation and ease stress in busy environments. 
  • Reflexology/Pressure points: Applying pressure to specific points on the hands can help relieve stress and tension. Planners can practice reflexology techniques on themselves in busy settings and even seek out a professional reflexologist for quick stress relief during breaks. 
  • Breathing techniques: Deep breathing exercises can quickly calm the mind and reduce stress. Planners can take a few moments to practice deep breathing, focusing on inhaling deeply through the nose, holding the breath briefly and then exhaling slowly through the mouth. This can be done discreetly even in crowded rooms or during hectic moments of event planning. 
  • Visualization: Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a peaceful place, such as a beach or forest, allowing yourself to experience relaxation and calmness. 
Yulia Chazova
Yulia Chazova

In private settings, when planners have more time to focus on managing their stress levels, they can practice the following coping skills: 

  • Bathing rituals: Taking a relaxing bath can be incredibly soothing and help alleviate stress. Planners can enhance their bathing experience by incorporating aromatherapy with essential oils, using bath salts, or indulging in luxurious bath products. 
  • Tension balls: Using tension balls of various sizes can provide stress relief through hand exercises and muscle relaxation. Planners can keep small tension balls in their pocket, luggage, or briefcase for quick access during breaks or travel. 
  • Sound therapy: Listening to soothing sounds or music can promote relaxation and reduce stress levels. Planners can use sound therapy devices or apps that offer calming nature sounds, white noise, or gentle music to create a peaceful environment. 
  • Self-compassion exercises: Treat yourself with kindness and understanding, acknowledging that it's okay to feel stressed and offering yourself support and encouragement. 

*Brought to you by Caesars Entertainment

Read more wellness content from Meetings Today.

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About the author
Taylor Smith | Content Developer, Destinations and Features

Taylor Smith joined Stamats in May 2022 as a content developer, destinations and features for Meetings Today. Smith has experience covering everything from travel to breaking news and graduated from Ball State University with a bachelor’s degree in news and magazine journalism. Previously, she’s written for St. Louis Magazine and worked as an editorial assistant and apprentice for Aubree Nichols, who has been published in premier publications such as The New York TimesELLE and The Los Angeles Times.