John Ayo, guest blogger
John is an internationally recognized keynote speaker, wellness expert and author.
As we begin the year, now is as good a time as any to make changes around self-care. It's no shocker that the meeting professional job can be quite stressful. We have to manage everything from speakers, to hotel management, to providing the right food for the right people at the right time. Lots of moving parts! The key is that if you are stressed and overwhelmed, you're probably not as effective at your job.
Take care of yourself
As an event professional, one of the most difficult words to get comfortable with is NO. I know how hard this can be; you dedicate so much of your life to your groups and events. But if you don’t take the time to take care of you, there won’t be any of you left to help them.
9 Self-care ideas for the Busy Planner
1. Create a self-care routine.
Schedule a self-care day monthly (or a half day if you feel too guilty) and turn off the phone and computer. Do something that re-energizes you (massage, spa day, lunch with friends, etc.). Just like recharging your phone – you are re-charging you!
2. Protect self-care activities on your calendar.
It’s one thing to schedule this time for you, and another to make sure it takes priority when the inevitable conflict occurs.
3. Hydrate throughout the day.
From a personal health perspective, you already know how important staying hydrated is, but are you doing it? The typical water target of half your body weight in ounces is a great place to start, but the key is to actually do it. Consider carrying a water bottle with a copper vacuum insulation with you to meetings, it will keep your water cold and remind you keep drinking.
4. Breathe properly.
Proper breathing means that you are breathing deeply, down below your belly button (you might put your hand there as you practice), while keeping your chest relatively still. Try inhaling for four seconds, hold for four seconds and exhale for four seconds. Deep breathing will help to activate the calming side of your nervous system (called the parasympathetic nervous system) and reduce stress.
5. Sign-up for self-care activities.
Sometimes it helps to have a group motivate you. Join a class such as Tai Chi, Yoga or Qi Gong to practice deep breathing and reduce stress.
6. Fuel up with the healthiest foods.
Most people that own an expensive car would never think of putting the cheapest fuel in it. Your body is way more valuable than any car, so make sure that you are giving it the best fuel possible. I understand that there are times when you cheat and eat the not-so-good-for-you foods, and that’s okay, as long as in moderation. Shoot for the 80/20 rule (80% of the time eating as healthy as you can).
What does that look like given our culture’s fascination with the diet-trend-of-the-month? In general, eat things that grow. My recommendation is the Mediterranean diet as it’s stood the test of time.
The trick is to eat:
- Good-quality fruits and vegetables (organic where possible)
- Whole grains (very small amounts, if any)
- Healthy fats (natural ones – coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, walnuts, macadamia nuts)
Also, make sure to get your Omega-3 essential fatty acids from fish, flax or other sources. Whenever you see the word essential with regard to nutrition it means that your body can’t make this fat on its own: you have to eat it. These particular fats are crucial to building healthy cells in your body.
7. Reduce your stress.
The reality is that we cannot control our stress levels or what happens to us, but we do have a big say in our stress response. Your first go-to response to any major stressors should be to breathe deeply. Proper breathing will go a long way in helping your body process whatever is going on.
The other factor to consider about stress includes technology. Yes, other people’s highlight reels can cause angst and frustration with your life, but I’m talking about something else. The EMFs (Electro Magnetic Frequencies) that are invisible yet have a huge impact on your body. Consider reducing EMF at your next meeting or event.
8. Clean Your Body's Filters.
Your body is designed to filter out the toxins that you encounter in your everyday world. However, your body was never designed to deal with the unbelievable amount of toxicity on our planet today.
The main sources of toxicity are:
- The food we eat – pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, additives, preservatives, etc.
- The air we breathe – pollution, huge increase in pollen, mold, artificial scents (think plug-ins, candles), etc.
- The water we drink – prescription drug residues, heavy metals, chlorine, fluoride, etc.
- Prescription drugs – these are often stored in your body for longer than you know.
Your body is always trying to cleanse itself, but when it gets overloaded, it can result in issues with your organs of detox (liver, kidneys, colon). Consider working with a natural health practitioner to begin a detox program.
9. Travel with your health in mind.
When you travel for your events, it’s not uncommon for the days to be very long. Travel adds a new level of stress to what we’ve already covered and requires a few more healthy choices.
How to reduce travel stress:
- Bring food/water with you if you can – especially when driving. Prevent inevitable roadside stops with unhealthy snacks.
- Be sure to pack some “just in case” supplements that you might need to help with issues around sleep, illness and digestive challenges.
- If you are driving, consider getting a bottle of good quality peppermint essential oil. Peppermint is very helpful to smell if you start to feel drowsy when driving.
Your body is always trying to heal itself. Our mission is to make life choices that will support the body and give it what it needs (nutrition, air, water, movement) and take away things that are hurting it (low-quality foods, shallow breathing, sitting all day, dehydration).
When you care for yourself, you are not only looking out for your own health, but you’re also putting yourself in a position to perform best for your team and event attendees. Learn more about ways to stay safe and healthy during your next event.
John Ayo is an Internationally recognized keynote speaker, wellness expert and author. He was a successful sales rep that survived in the super stressful technology sector with IBM for 19 years, then moved into sales training and meeting planning internationally for 12 years. He delivers his motivational content on staying healthy and sane in a crazy world (especially when you travel) via presentations and workshops for large groups and corporate events. www.TravelBalance.net