It might surprise you that event planning is the fifth most stressful job in the world, behind military personnel, firefighters, pilots and police officers. While we may not be putting out literal fires during our workday, we deal with our fair share of stress. And all of it is magnified now in an (almost) post-COVID world. Today, planners have to manage ever-changing COVID/safety requirements, staff shortages everywhere (hotels, restaurants, airlines, TSA, etc.), budget pressures, and in some cases, client education as people in those roles have frequently changed too. Here are some mental health tips for when you need to put out your own “fires”:
Conduct daily personal check-ins
How are you feeling? What needs are or are not being met? What are your big priorities to accomplish today? Checking in with yourself and establishing your big tasks will help you start your day on a positive note and make it easier to get things done. Set a calendar reminder in the mornings so you can fully integrate check-ins into your routine and create a habit.
Plan for a recovery day after live events
Studies have found that work-induced fatigue compounds over time. If you’re spending multiple, long days in a row at a trade show, incentive travel program, or other event, there can be serious mental and physical consequences if you don’t take time to recharge. Show yourself some kindness and block a day for some much-needed rest and relaxation!
Allow a time buffer between tasks
Stress rises and productivity decreases if you don’t give your mind a rest between tasks. Our bodies need breaks! Even a few minutes of downtime can help you refresh and start your next task feeling composed. Take a short walk, stretch, have a healthy snack, or take a few minutes to breathe before continuing with your work. Pro tip: The practice of meditation is so helpful with managing stress by reinforcing mindfulness, compassion, and the adage that, this too shall pass. If you’re not already a regular meditator, starting now can help!
Setting boundaries and sticking to them are the key to preventing burnout and protecting your mental health. Boundaries can look different for everyone, but here are some examples:
- Not accepting phone calls after a certain time
- Responding to emails only during regular working hours, or within 1 business day
- Setting reasonable deadlines with clients and colleagues
Of course, as an event nears, flexible availability is a necessary part of the job. However, that doesn’t have to mean being on call around the clock. Set boundaries with both regular days and crunch time in mind and ensure that both internal and external colleagues are aware of them.
Having any kind of work/life balance isn’t easy in the event planning industry, and the proliferation of smartphone use is making it even harder to separate. Studies are starting to show that the time we spend on our smartphones is interfering with our sleep, self-esteem, relationships, memory, attention spans, creativity, productivity, problem-solving and decision-making skills. So yeah, there’s that. The ability to find laughter amidst the stress is a key coping skill. Even small moments of disconnection can be restorative. It’s also helpful throughout the day to give your eyes a break from computer and phone screens and shut them all down at least one hour before bed.
When you prioritize your mental health, you give yourself more opportunities to enjoy your work and excel in your role. Event planners are exceptional multitaskers, but the workload can become too much for anyone. Follow these mental health tips for a happier, healthier work environment!