Meeting planners have one of the most stressful jobs, which is why it’s important that they take care of themselves, even when they’re also taking care of attendees. Consider these three self-care strategies.
I’m writing this post during my last day in the office before I head to Columbus for #ASAE19. I have a list of to-dos that I need to check off, so I can head to airport feeling confident that everything’s in the best shape it can be.
While my to-do list items include job-related ones like sending copy for the next issue of Associations Now over to our design team and finishing up this blog, one falls outside that realm: schedule a massage for myself post-conference. Because self-care is important—and because my back and neck will appreciate it after sitting in the conference newspaper office for almost 12 hours a day.
However, I also know my stress level and workload is probably nothing compared to our meetings team, who has tirelessly worked on this annual event pretty much since we wrapped things up in Chicago last year.
And while the primary focus for our team, and all other planners, is to ensure the onsite experience is awesome for attendees, vendors, and other partners, it’s also important that they take care of themselves. Need proof? CareerCast’s “Most Stressful Jobs of 2018” report ranked meeting planning as the fifth most-stressful job based on 11 factors like deadlines, physical demands, competition, and working in the public eye.
So, what are some self-care strategies for meetings pros to consider? Here are three:
Schedule Times to Decompress
In the week or two leading up to a meeting and then onsite, it’s easy to be on 24-7 and not take any time for yourself. In a March 2019 Harvard Business Review article, Alice Boyes, author of the The Healthy Mind Toolkit, suggests two ways to make time for mental breaks, even when you’re extremely busy. The first is to save “small scraps of time for mental rest.”
“When you’re very busy, it’s tempting to try to cram productive activity, like responding to email or thinking through decisions, into any small crack of time,” she writes. “However, you don’t have to. Instead, consider using brief waiting times for true mental breaks. Take some slow breaths, drop your shoulders, and just chill.”
Boyce also suggests deciding which moments in your day you’ll use to physically decompress: “For instance, maybe you can take some slow breaths whenever you go to the bathroom, or just after you wake up or just before you get into bed.”
USE Personal Tech to unwind
While it’s not good to be on your smartphone or tablet every hour of the day, a post on Meetings Imagined points out the good side that tech can bring to the lives of meeting pros.
“On the road to wellness as an event planner, you shouldn’t eschew your phone altogether,” the post says.
For example, it suggests apps like Vent, which can help planners release any negative thoughts to their smartphone instead of airing them publicly via social media or in person, or Coffitivity, which helps you zone out by mimicking the sounds of a relaxing, Sunday-afternoon coffee shop. “Alternatively, if you want to tap into the mood-boosting benefits of yoga, Yoga Studio guides you through a personalized Zen session you can use on the go,” the post says.
Build in Recovery Time
Once an event is over for attendees, it’s usually not the end for meeting pros. There is often clean up, and bills to pay, and post-event surveys to get out to attendees. But once your job is done, it’s important that you take some time to recover.
Over at the Eventmobi blog, Anne Thornley-Brown offers up this suggestion: “Stay on at a destination for a few extra days to relax, unwind, and explore it at leisure. Travel is one perk the industry offers.”
And if your organization offers comp time, use it to catch up on sleep or Netflix—or like me, to head to the spa.
What are your wellness and self-care strategies before, during, and after your conferences and other events? Please share in the comments.