Busy season in the event industry is known for late nights, packed schedules, and a whole lot of burnout. When jumping from event to event, it can be tough to take time for yourself and slow down. However, if you’re going to kick burnout to the curb, you will need to prioritize self-care.
Though this looks different for all of us, self-care is an important exercise that allows us to take a step back and set our future selves up for success. This might mean unplugging from technology for the day or spending more time with those you love. Whatever self-care looks like for you, it’s an essential component for reducing stress this busy season (and all that follow!).
Not sure how to make self-care happen? As busy as you are, finding (or making!) time for this practice can be difficult. Fortunately, we asked a handful of industry experts for their best self-care tips – here’s what they had to say.
Establish concrete office hours
How often have you planned to unwind after work, only to get caught up in emails and client needs as soon as 5:00 p.m. hits? To truly take care of yourself, it’s essential to set specific office hours, ensuring all clients understand when they can reach you and when you’re unavailable.
“Define your office hours for clients,” recommends Kimberly Sisti, owner, lead planner, and florist at SISTI & CO. “Whether it's in a vacation message on the weekends or after a certain time during the workweek, make sure your clients know when you are working and when they can expect a response from you.”
Add it to your calendar
Simply telling yourself you’ll take time for self-care isn’t enough to make it happen. The solution? Add it to your calendar as you would any regular business task. This way, you won’t let it slip!
As Megan Estrada, CEO of NSWE Events, shares, “We put it on the calendar. It’s so easy to skip it if you just think you’ll get around to it. Making it a priority means making time for it – so we schedule it out as far in advance as necessary (which can mean months in advance during busy season!).”
Put yourself first
One of the best ways to take care of yourself is by focusing on just that – yourself. As busy event professionals, we often get caught up in the needs and desires of others. So much so that we’re left putting our own needs on the backburner. To prioritize self-care, try not to cancel on yourself.
“I made a promise to myself in 2020 to not cancel appointments that are for me because there is too much to do for work,” shares Shannon Tarrant, co-founder of Wedding Venue Map. “I would book massages or doctor's appointments, and then something would come up, and I always canceled at the last minute. Now, I make sure to prioritize things for myself by showing up.”
We’re all human, and sometimes, we forget things! It’s natural. But to ensure you don’t forget about self-care, consider setting up reminders for it. After adding this practice to your calendar, be mindful not to swipe away each time a notification pops up!
Sisti says, “Consider jogging your memory with reminders on your phone calendar. If you tend to forget the notifications, then consider a different method. For example, if you tend to ignore reminders that pop up on your phone, consider attaching a sound to them. That way, you have to look at the reminder to disable the sound.”
Give yourself grace
We often have good intentions, but life has a way of quickly throwing us a curveball. So if things fall through the cracks, simply schedule a time on your calendar for the next day. Be cautious about getting too strict about self-care; otherwise, you may end up being too hard on yourself should plans change!
Remember: Self-care is supposed to feel good, not like an extra chore to squeeze in. As Kat Braman, photographer at Lorren & Braman, notes, “I've found that being super regimented about my self-care defeats the purpose of it, so I just make sure I keep my priorities in order and don't sacrifice my non-negotiables.”
Turn off your phone
In a world driven by technology, we often can’t go more than a few minutes before checking our phones. But, when you’re shifting your focus to your own well-being, you must find time to put away your devices.
Thomas Waters, owner and senior event coordinator at The Renaissance, suggests, “Turn off the phone (or at least put it down). We, as wedding professionals, tend to keep our phones (and by extension...our emails, websites, and online onboarding systems) by our sides 24/7. Create a few times during the day and/or week to put down the phone or turn off notifications.”
Consider a massage
Self-care involves all aspects of our well-being – mental, emotional, and physical. So, if you’re looking to check “physical” off of your self-care to-do list, think about scheduling a massage. Few things feel better than blocking off time on your calendar to unwind and relax!
“Having a monthly massage membership has been a lifesaver,” shares Tarrant. “The physical work that comes from events can take a massive toll on the body. I would try to get massages ‘when I had time,’ which was never. I decided to switch to a monthly membership with a company that has an app that I can book months into the future.”
Nora Sheils, co-founder of Rock Paper Coin and founder of Bridal Bliss, adds, “What the busy season has that you may not be used to in the off-season is many long hours on your feet. I highly suggest scheduling reflexology or a foot massage for the following day! It makes all the difference and will help you bounce back much faster. It increases circulation, reduces stress, and brings relaxation and healing.”
Create a self-care playlist
Music has a way of shifting our mood and turning our entire day around. So if a massage isn’t on the horizon, know there are smaller ways to take care of yourself.
“If you work a full day event, leave a few minutes before and a few minutes after to get in a good song that charges you up or winds you down,” advises Jennifer Sulak, lead photographer at Weirdo Weddings. “Music is a stellar way to pump you up or slow you down during the day. If you have a commute, use your car system to play music and make it happen!”
Get some sleep
When you’re sleep-deprived, you’re more likely to struggle with concentration, feeling groggy and irritable—not exactly a winning formula for happy clients! So to make sure you’re making it through busy season without succumbing to stress, put sleep at the top of your to-do list.
“Make sleep a priority,” encourages Sheils. “Long days and nights, reduced sleep, and additional stress are the perfect combo to lead to sickness, frustration, and eventually burnout.”
All event professionals understand that busy season can be both stressful and chaotic. But by implementing these self-care solutions, you’re sure to make space in your calendar for your business's most important asset—you!
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.