According to Forbes Magazine, “event coordinator” is among the top 10 most stressful jobs of 2014. Meeting planners work long hours, travel extensively, juggle multiple tasks, and engage in ‘on-the-go’ eating at venues. Finding downtime to re-energize and de-stress is always a challenge. Many planners have good intentions to find balance in the midst of chaos and to make healthy lifestyle choices. The good news for event planners is that a healthy lifestyle is not an event. It is a way of life and a mindset. It’s about being mindful and making balanced healthy choices every day.
Here are some ways to integrate wellness and downtime during your busy event programs and personal lives:
When we’re busy, it’s easy to skip some meals, drink lots of coffee and snack throughout the day as quick “pick-me-ups.” Simple carbs (sugars, sodas, white flours, snack foods) are absorbed into the bloodstream very quickly causing blood sugars to spike and then drop. The result: mental fatigue and brain fogginess. Here are some ways to stay energized throughout the event day:
1. Start your day with a healthy breakfast of fiber and protein to enhance mental alertness
2. Go whole with whole grains (brown carbs/grains) instead of white sugar and flour energy zappers
3. Drink 8 (8 ounce) glasses of water each day to keep hydrated and feeling full
4. Fill up on fiber (legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables) to keep your blood sugar steady
Finding the time for fitness – even in small doses – is enough to re-charge your body and mind. Here’s the good news. You don’t need to do your exercises all at once. Try breaking your activity into several 10-minutes increments throughout the day. Still too much? Just move. A little exercise is better than nothing. Every minute or step matters so get moving! Here’s how:
5. Go for a walk or run before or after your event (even if it’s brief)
6. Fit stair climbing wherever possible throughout the day
7. Use your body and hotel room as your strength training gym (push-ups, sit-ups, tricep dips, squats, lunges, etc) and cardio training (run in place, simulate rope skipping, do jumping jacks and plyometrics)
“When we stop and bring our mind back to our body, we can pay full attention to all that is happening in the present moment. We call this “mindfulness.” To be mindful means to be here, fully present, and fully alive, unencumbered by thoughts of the past or the future, our worries or our projects. It is only when we stop that we can encounter life. When we stop, body and mind can reunite and then we can experience their oneness.” -- Thich Nhat Hanh
During events, programs planners often operate in autopilot “doing busy” and experiencing the concomitant stresses associated with never ending to-do lists, multi-tasking, problem-solving, thinking, worrying, and planning. The latest lingo for busy people is that of mindfulness: being fully present and alive in the moment by paying attention to our bodies and connecting to our experiences and surroundings.
Here are some tips to de-stress and practice “being busy” better:
8. Notice how your body and behaviors respond to stress. This increased awareness may prompt you to change the way you react to stress
9. De-clutter your day by finding alone time - quiet down time to play music, read, relax, reflect and restore yourself
10. Create a healthy space where the busyness stops. This could be a visual image, a sound, or place to practice mindfulness, including meditation, deep breathing, and yoga.
Make YOU the priority. Practice mindfulness, healthy eating and active living beginning now. Not Monday, not when the event ends or when life settles down. This mindset will restore your well-being and change your event experience.
Kim Bercovitz, Ph.D.
Exercise Bytes Inc.President and Chief Exercise Officer