Deadlines, phone calls, paperwork, budgeting, presentations, preparation: the duties of an event planner can be tiresome. Unfortunately, work related stress doesn’t stay at the office. Many event professionals come home to the anxiety of family, and relationship matters while carrying work worries with them as well.
It’s easy to view the world negatively when circumstances aren’t ideal, but negative thinking eats at your productivity, creativity, relationships, and even your personal health. To manage their stress and maintain a work-life balance, event professionals should tap into the practice of mindfulness, or paying attention on purpose.
But how does mindfulness help event professionals to de-stress? And how do you practice it?
Mindfulness and Stress Management
Stress takes a toll on the body and the mind. Because stress is the body’s natural response to the presence of a threat, certain functions of your body will increase depending on the situation. For instance, before giving a presentation, you will notice that your heart rate has increased and your breathing becomes much deeper and more rapid.
This occurs because your brain triggers the secretion of adrenaline to your bloodstream to give you energy in case of danger. Stress is completely natural, and in some cases, it gives you the energy you need to get out of a situation. Over time, though, it can cause a multitude of health problems.
These problems need to be combated to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but stress affects more than just the body. Stress reduces attention spans and clogs the flow of creative thinking, all by literally numbing certain parts of your brain, particularly the ones that control memory and emotional responses.
How does mindfulness aid in the correction of these negative physical responses? According to Headspace, a mindfulness training app, the answer lies within one region of the brain: the amygdala. Under stressful circumstances, neurons, or nerve cells, gather in the amygdala to aid in adrenaline secretion.
Through the breathing practices of mindfulness, your heart rates slow down, causing the neurons that had built up in the amygdala to diminish, moving them to your prefrontal cortex, which is the control center for emotions.
This simple transfer of cells will, lower blood pressure and slow down respiration. You will find that your muscles will relax and you will feel more at ease.
The short answer is: by practicing mindfulness, your creativity and productivity will rise substantially.
How to Practice Mindfulness
According to Psychology Today, mindfulness sprouts from the Buddhist practice of meditation, and its foundation consists of a few basic principles: posture, breath, and thought.
The ideal posture for exercises of mindfulness consists of a sitting position with a straight, but not stiff, spine. Therefore, most office chairs will suffice for mindful meditation.
Shoulders should be put slightly back, causing your back to straighten.
Next, upper arms should be parallel with your sides so that your hands can rest comfortably above your knees.
Your feet should be planted on the ground.
Your chin should be tilted slightly downward, but not enough to make your neck feel strained.
Eyes should be half open, but don’t be tempted to focus on one spot: just let your gaze fall naturally.
The second principle of mindfulness is breathing. Your breathing should be deep and slow, and instead of breathing with your shoulders, you should breathe with your stomach.
A small percentage of your focus should be on your breath, so don’t over think how you are breathing.
The last and most important feature of mindfulness deals with your thoughts. During mindful exercises, thoughts of all kinds will begin to flow in.
The key is to begin with thoughts that are not judgments. Your thoughts should be mere observations of how your life is currently going.
Be aware of your surroundings and the people with whom you interact. When worries begin to jumble in with your observations, you should shift your focus to your breathing, and then begin focusing on observations yet again.
Remember: your mindful meditations are not another opportunity to stress over work and personal life. They are designed to help you shift your focus to more positive thinking.
Your mindful exercises should, at first, last about 5 to 10 minutes. As you get used to paying attention to your surroundings and strengthening your attention span, you can increase the time you spend meditating to 20 to 30 minutes, and possibly even 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Other Ways to Be Mindful at Work
1. Get moving
Mindful people do not sit at their desks all day. According to Fast Company, physical movement actually increases your brain functions. After getting up and walking around, you will find that you are better able to stay on task, and more ideas will come to mind. A great way to remember to take a break to walk around is to set multiple alarms on your phone.
2. Think positively
Although it is easier said than done, positive thinking affects all aspects of your life. By choosing to not be negative, you will find increased satisfaction as an event planner. Positive visualization can help ease your nerves in any circumstance, too. For instance, before a event day, ask yourself what you are hoping to accomplish, and then ask yourself what you need to do to make it happen. This short time of reflection will help to be on top of all of your event management tasks.
3. Check out online resources
As described earlier, Headspace is an app designed to assist you work toward mindfulness. It’s packed with resources to help you get started, like Take 10, a 10-day program that will teach you the basics of mindfulness and how to meditate.
By practicing mindfulness, event professionals can strengthen their productivity, creativity, and communication skills, all while achieving a better work-life balance and better relationships with the people around them.
Looking for ways to be a less stressed event organizer, with more time to focus on the fun aspects of your job? Bizzabo’s all-in-one event management platform helps event planners do just that by making it easier to plan an incredibly successful and profitable event.