Event Managers were already ranked as having the 5th most stressful job in the World before the Coronavirus.
It’s not hard to imagine our ranking rising even higher after 40 million people have been affected by event cancellations and postponements within the last 2 months.
What can we do to reduce our anxiety during one of the most turbulent times we might see in our professional lifetimes?
12 Ways to Alleviate Stress for Event Managers
1. Realize this will end
This isn’t a “gotcha” and is probably the most important item on the list. The most stressful thing any event manager can do right now (and probably what most event managers ARE doing), is reading headlines.
I logged into 2 event news sites before I sat down to write this and was hit with Marriott and other big chains laying workers off, and total expected job losses this year.
You will pull your hair out if you keep reading headlines.
Here’s what you should realize: Events will come back, and probably sooner than you think.
If your job is currently at risk, it is always wise to develop a back-up plan for the short-term until Companies and Countries open up travel again. However, do not feel like you have to give up on your passion in the long-term.
2. Meditate for 10 minutes in the morning.
This is not a gimmick.
You should start every day with a positive mindset and control what you can, while you can.
This means completely clearing your mind with a simple 10-minute exercise. and if you have never done meditation before, it’s not as easy as it looks. But the effects are immense.
Don’t believe me? Check out these science-backed facts about meditation that can completely change your daily outlook from Little Coffee Fox:
- Sets tone for the entire day
- Increased energy
- Builds focus
- Increases overall sense of well-being
That’s it, 10 minutes in the morning.
Looking for a free app? Try “Calm” in your app store.
3. Finally get around to tackling that to-do list
You know this: One of the reasons Event Professionals have the 5th most stressful job in the World is because our to-do list continues to build while the events (and Leadership’s expectations) never stop.
Instead of worrying about the events you can’t control in the near term, tackle your to-do list.
One thing I find helpful is to physically write down my list on a long sheet of paper, even if I’ve already completed some items prior to creating the list. Then, scratch through each item as you complete them.
The satisfaction and sense of productivity you feel can do amazing things for you right now.
4. Reach out to partners and suppliers to collaborate
Strength in numbers…Misery loves company…Pick your favorite quote here. The point is: We’re all in this together, all over the World.
No one will think it’s weird that you are reaching out to just talk or check-in. Talking and venting with peers is a great way to reduce stress.
It’s also a great way to stay top of mind with your colleagues for when this whole thing subsides in the coming months.
5. Begin early planning for Fall/Spring events and beyond
Most companies have not canceled or postponed any Late Summer or Fall 2020 events yet.
If health and economic measures that Countries are taking have their intended effect, we’ll be back in business within a few months.
It’s natural to have a mindset that says, “there’s no point in planning any events, it’ll never end”, but recognize this is anxiety talking and nothing more.
Staying busy and on top of future events is a fantastic way to keep your mind healthy and have your best events ever in late-2020/2021.
I cannot stress this enough; no pun intended.
Sleep is how your body recovers from stress. Physical stress, mental stress, and emotional stress.
Here is how the current situation might be compounding your stress level:
>Events you’ve worked hard on for months cancel. Extremely stressful.
>Worrying all day continues to add stress as your brain is amped up with “what-if’s”, your emotional state takes a hit. Additional stress on your nervous system
>This added stress and worry might make it difficult to sleep. Your body is now finding it difficult to shed the stress its accumulated and continues to compound.
At some point, stress has physical and mental manifestations. Your body responds to excess stress the same way anything does if you apply too much stress-Things get damaged.
Do whatever you can to ensure you are getting an adequate amount of sleep. While keeping in mind that during stressful periods, you need MORE SLEEP THAN USUAL.
- Lose control
How do I say this nicely? Many event planners get into the profession because they are, by nature… control freaks. Hey, I’m speaking for myself as well! We not only flock to this industry, we also happen to be REALLY good at what we do because we INSIST on being on top of EVERYTHING. No detail gets by us. We never drop the ball and we always meet deadlines and budgets. Period.
Here’s the thing… we are now dealing with something that is TOTALLY out of our control. How the heck do you control a global pandemic? You simply can’t. You will lose your mind and your good mood if you try and control things that are out of your control. So cut yourself some slack at this time and roll with the punches as best you can.
- Get some daily “me time” in
You are doing so many things for so many other people, it’s easy to lose track of your own needs. Maybe you’ve been working from home this past year while also trying to homeschool your children while also trying to learn new technology and processes to help your clients pivot and launch virtual events. Phew! It’s truly exhausting just thinking about it.
It’s very important to recharge your battery. One of the best ways you can do that is to ensure a little “me time” every day. This can be as simple as making sure you actually TAKE a lunch break (don’t work through your lunch, take a break) and going for a walk or listening to some music while driving around. You can also sit in your office and do some deep breathing exercises.
Of course, even better, if you have the time, be sure to get some real exercise in, take a class each week or soak in a nice, long, bath. It doesn’t matter what you do, just be sure “me time” is on that to-do list!
- Set Healthy Boundaries
New event planners tend to be guiltier with this, but all too often, we allow ourselves to go WAY above and beyond for clients. How many times have you found yourself at 8:30 on a Friday night just settling down to have some wine with your S.O. and watch a little Game of Thrones, when all of a sudden you get an email alert and see that it’s from your client or manager. You debate whether you want/need/should check what the email says. Well, that really depends… have you set any boundaries?
During this time, as everyone is trying so desperately to pivot and make adjustments using virtual or hybrid events, a lot of our clients may have a LOT of questions and concerns. That’s okay and to be expected. But what’s NOT okay is for you to be expected to be on call 24/7 to answer those questions and concerns.
Be sure to make it crystal clear when you are available for calls and emails. Your clients or manager need to know these boundaries and respect them, or you will lose your mind. And that’s never a pretty process.
- Read more
Reading is actually a great way to destress because it really stops your mind from ruminating on all of the things that are stressing you out. I said before to have some me time and reading is a great activity to do during this time. When you listen to music, take a bath or go for a walk, you can actually still fume and fuss during those activities. But reading FORCES your mind to focus on one specific thing. And according to a 2009 University of Minnesota study, reading can reduce stress by up to 68%. It was even found to work better and faster than other relaxation methods, such as listening to music. And as a bonus, if you read fiction, you can immerse yourself into a totally different world and reality for 30 minutes.
- Commune with nature
If you’re like most event planners, you spend a good portion of your day hunched over your computer or cell phone. But guess what? Being constantly glued to digital screens is no bueno for our mental or physical health.
We all need to get outside more and spend time in the sun and fresh air. Getting sun every day will give your body a natural vitamin D boost, which is good for your immune system. Studies have also shown that low levels of vitamin D are linked to depression. Being out in nature just makes us feel better. Our ancestors spent hundreds of thousands of years outside. It’s just not in our DNA to be inside all of the time. So get out and enjoy the beauty all around us!
In general, it’s just a good idea to spend more time away from our technology, as these little gadgets tend to be what bring the stress into our lives. Whether it’s an annoying text or email from a coworker or 24/7 bad / fearful news by the media, it’s important to unplug every once in a while. Try to unplug for just 15-20 minutes a day. You might feel very uncomfortable and notice a DEEP urge to grab your phone and check your email or SM pages. Don’t give into this temptation. We have all become a little too addicted to technology. It’s going to actually feel uncomfortable at first to unplug. That’s ok. Just move through that feeling as best you can. Eventually you will be able to unplug for 15-20 minutes each day. Then consider going for longer periods. It will get easier and, like quitting other addictions, you soon realize your life FEELS so much better the more unplugged we are.
Your body has a finite capacity for stress: physical, mental or emotional. It all taxes your central nervous system.
As Event Professionals, we must find ways to help our body shed the stress we might accumulate over the next few months to stay mentally and physically healthy.
If you have additional tips you’d like to share please let us know by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you just want to talk to someone, please give us a call @ (214) 251-4419.
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Jeremy Sweat is the Sales and Marketing Director at J.Shay Event Solutions. When he’s not working, he enjoys traveling with his wife, scuba diving, and triathlon training.