It’s no shocker that the job of planning meetings and events can be quite stressful. We have to manage everything from speakers and hotel management to having the right foods for the right people at the right time—there are lots of moving parts!
As a meeting professional, one of the most difficult words to get comfortable with is…NO. I know how hard this can be, as you dedicate so much of your life to your groups and events, but if you don’t take the time to take care of you, there won’t be any of you left to help them.
The key thing is that you can’t be effective if you are stressed and overwhelmed, so let’s start there with some key tips for stress busting.
Here are two steps to consider:
Schedule a self-care day monthly (or a half day if you feel too guilty) and turn off the phone and computer. Do something that re-energizes YOU (e.g., massage, spa day, lunch with friends). Think of this as like plugging your phone in to charge it—you are re-charging YOU!
Protect this time on your calendar! It’s one thing to schedule this time for you and another to make sure it takes priority when the inevitable conflict occurs.
From a personal health perspective, you already know how important staying hydrated is, but are you doing it? The typical water target of half your body weight in ounces is a great place to start, but the key is in actually implementing this so you are drinking water throughout your day. Make sure that you are drinking purified water, as you want to help your body to detoxify. You either use a filter or your body will become the filter. Luckily, most venues are now offering bottled water, so this is a little bit easier.
Proper breathing means that you are breathing deeply, down below your belly button (you might put your hand there as you practice), while keeping your chest relatively still. Try inhaling for four seconds, hold for four seconds and exhale for four seconds.
This will help to activate the calming side of your nervous system (called the parasympathetic nervous system) and reduce stress in a big way. In fact, all of the best stress reduction systems (e.g. tai chi, yoga, qi gong…) have deep breathing at their core.
[Related: 3 Easy Tips To Fight Jet Lag]
Use the Best Fuel Possible
Most people that own an expensive car would never think of putting the cheapest fuel in it. Your body is way more valuable than any car, so make sure that you are giving it the best fuel possible.
I understand there are times when it makes sense to cheat and eat the not-so-good-for-you foods, and that’s okay—as long as it’s in moderation. Shoot for the 80/20 rule (80% of the time eating as healthy as you can).
What does that look like given our culture’s fascination with the diet trend of the month? In general, eat things that grow. My recommendation is the Mediterranean diet, as it has stood the test of time. The trick is to eat:
- Good-quality fruits and vegetables (organic where possible).
- Healthy fats, and natural ones, such as coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, walnuts and macadamia nuts.
Also make sure to get your omega-3 essential fatty acids from fish, flax or other sources. Whenever you see the word essential in regard to nutrition, it means that your body can’t make it on its own—you have to eat it. These particular fats are crucial to building healthy cells in your body.
We really don’t need as much protein as you might think (depending on your lifestyle), so add some in the form of beans, nuts, lentils (if vegetarian) and/or good quality meats (organic, grass-fed) or eggs.
When you travel for your events, it’s not uncommon for the days to be very long. Travel adds a new level of stress to what we’ve already covered and requires a few more healthy choices. You must plan ahead to reduce as many travel stressors as possible.
Some examples include:
Bring food/water with you if you can—especially when driving. This helps with the inevitable roadside stops that can result in unhealthy snacks.
Be sure to pack some “just in case” supplements that you might need to help with issues around sleep, illness and digestive challenges.
If you are driving, consider getting a bottle of good-quality peppermint essential oil. This can be very helpful to smell if you start to feel drowsy when driving.
Your body is always trying to heal itself. Our mission is to make life choices that will support this and give it what it needs (nutrition, air, water, movement) and take away things that are hurting it (low quality foods, shallow breathing, sitting all day, dehydration).
When you care for yourself, you are not only looking out for your own health, but you’re also putting yourself in a position to perform the best for your team, customers and the overall success of the event.
Read next: 10 Ways Meeting Planners Can 'Slay the Stress Dragon'
About the Author:
John Ayo is an Internationally recognized keynote speaker, wellness expert (naturopath) and author. He was a successful sales rep that survived in the super-stressful technology sector with IBM for 19 years, then moved into sales training and meeting planning internationally for 12 years. He delivers his motivational content on staying healthy and sane in a crazy world (especially when you travel) via presentations and workshops for large groups and corporate events. He maintains a website at www.travelbalance.net