Achieving a healthy work-life balance in the event industry is no easy task. In fact, event planning is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 most stressful professions in the world. Every day, event planners juggle last-minute changes and demands from clients with quickly approaching event deadlines. With this type of job description, mental health and work-life balance can become an afterthought all too often.
As a new mother, I’m right there with you, and need just as much help developing a healthy work-life balance. In my experiences working in events, I’ve found the following to be helpful ways to care for my mental health, despite being in a stressful profession:
1. Incorporate mindfulness exercises into your events. Events should reflect the beliefs of both the clients and the planners. Companies are increasingly realizing that a healthy work-life balance is one of the most important ways to retain employees. Industry conferences are taking note of this and incorporating mindfulness breaks into events, including yoga and breathing techniques. I’m glad to see as an industry we are making self-care and mental health a priority. To improve your own work-life balance, start by incorporating this into your events.
2. Get outside. When the work piles up, it’s easy to sequester yourself inside with the stress. One of the best ways I’ve found to relieve stress is by stepping away and getting outside--where you can breathe a little deeper. One of my favorite spots to get away from it all is Elm Creek Park Reserve, where I can go with my dogs for long walks. Not only does getting outside help calm my stress, but it also helps me put on a better event. Getting some (literal) outside perspective allows me to think through the big picture of the event, instead of getting lost in the details and last-minute changes.
3. Select simplified event locations. If you’re able to choose your event location, pick one that will cut down on the amount of details you’ll need to handle. This may sound obvious, but I see event planners add unnecessary stress to their events all the time. An event site that is located just outside a large city, as opposed to in a downtown area; focusing on walkable event venues and accommodations; selecting a venue with free and ample parking--these are all small details that can be taken care of from the start by picking a stress-free venue.
4. Take care of your body. A healthy body reflects a healthy mind. It’s easy to get so caught up in an event that you forget to take care of yourself, but the reality is this: To put on a good event, you must be healthy. Make regular exercise a priority and be conscious of what you’re eating and when you’re eating. It’s easy to slide into convenience meals when you’re stressed but taking the time to eat--and eat healthfully--will do wonders for your well-being. For that matter, encourage the same behavior in your event attendees--work with caterers on healthy menus and develop a schedule that gives both the mind and body a much-needed break.
5. Define your priorities for the day. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the needs of your clients and events. Selecting three to five priorities for each day allows you to focus your efforts instead of getting bogged down by the flurry of incoming emails and demands that come your way. Best of all, it gives you a sense of real accomplishment at the end of the day--something that can help fuel you forward and prevent burn-out.
6. Choose positivity. It’s easy to get bogged down by all the little things that didn’t go as intended during your planning process or the event itself. As you think about the event, choose to focus on the positive first, and then consider what you would change. When you’re thinking about what you would change, remember: Embracing what went negatively allows you the opportunity to grow in your craft.
Event planning is demanding, but when everything comes together, it’s extremely rewarding (and makes all of that stress worth it!). Nevertheless, it’s easy to lose sight of the end product in the midst of the pre-planning stress. Next time you plan an event, I encourage you to make your mental health and work-life balance a priority. When you’re the best you can be, your event will be, too.
Ashlee Mueller, a business development manager at Minneapolis Northwest Tourism, has more than five years of experience in the tourism and hospitality industry. A Minneapolis Northwest native and resident, she is passionate about bringing more people and events to the cities of Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park and Maple Grove.