by Astrid Zeppenfeld
Do you feel particularly stressed lately? I’m going to be honest here: The last couple of weeks before we put this magazine into print, are always stressful for me. There seems to always be something missing that I should have done long ago, and it’s now coming back to stress me out to the max. I have to consciously remind myself: Everyone gets stressed sometimes. We all know what stress can do to our bodies; we’ve seen the health warnings put out by doctors, and we’ve noticed the tension headaches. Or maybe your stress manifests itself as back pain. Some of us get either more withdrawn as we get more stressed, or our fuse gets shorter and we find ourselves wanting to snap at our colleagues, spouses, or children faster.
But if you, like me, have failed to plan ahead and are now faced with deadlines that seem impossible to meet, rest assured that it’s not just you. The meetings and event industry can be stressful, because it’s constantly changing. No event or corporate meeting is the same – even if last year’s general manager meeting was at the same time of the year and even at the same venue. Something will be different; even if all the key players are the same. The topic may be much more challenging this year, or the food may not compare, or a tornado you didn’t anticipate hits your venue the day of. None of this can be planned for much in advance, so we often find ourselves stressed even though we thought we had everything covered. After all, we did plan the meeting for six months!
But isn’t this constant change, adjusting sails and just rolling with it, part of the fun? Some of us chose to be a meeting and event planner instead of bookkeeping or auto sales, specifically for that reason. It’s fun to meet new people all the time; to consistently be handed new challenges to deal with because everyone is so different!
SO WHAT YOU DO WHEN STRESS HITS YOU LIKE A TON OF BRICKS?
So now, as I’m sitting here typing this – whilst rubbing my temples and wishing I had written this piece last week – I am left wondering what the absolute best 5-minute strategy is to get rid of this stressed feeling that is creeping up inside me. A quick google search brings up a healthline.com article, which, among other things, suggests to:
- Write it down
- Spend time with friends and family
- Learn to say no
- Learn to avoid procrastination
- Take a yoga class
- Spend time with your pet
In reading through this list, I find myself laughing out loud. Many of these strategic ideas on how to manage my current stress come a little too late for me. I mean, had I written this piece on Saturday morning, instead of doing a 12-mile bike ride, I wouldn’t be this stressed about it today! Same goes for spending time with friends and family or my pet. I could learn to say no, but would it really behoove me to say no to my boss? If I take time now to write down why I’m stressed, it would take time away from hitting my submission deadline of TONIGHT. I’m still laughing at the irony of some of these suggestions two hours before deadline, so I guess this one is definitely going on my “To do RIGHT NOW to combat stress” list. Plus, finding the humor in it, seems to have eased my tension headache. Therefore…
KEY THINGS TO DO RIGHT NOW TO EASE YOUR STRESS
- Laugh, or – at least – smile! If you smile, your facial muscles will relax, and with that, the tension in your head, shoulders, or neck region may disappear.
- Do the 100 steps. It’s what we call it in France if we just get up and move around a bit. Maybe exercise doesn’t have to take an hour, or 12 miles on a bike, so I’m overwhelmed with work later?
- Make a cup of coffee or tea. Even though the article on healthline.com said to reduce the caffeine intake, the act of getting up from my desk for a couple of minutes to make an espresso helps me stretch and re-focus. Don’t want the caffeine and / or are not tired in the afternoon? Make yourself an herbal tea, maybe.
- Set a reward for yourself to get through the current stressor. I have a massage scheduled for 8pm; that’s two hours past my deadline and something to look forward to. And it took all but 3 minutes to call the place and schedule it.
- Take responsibility. Once I have identified why I’m so stressed, I figure out what I could have done to prevent myself from being in this bind. In this case, the responsibility is 100 percent on my own shoulders, and I’ll make a better schedule before the next issue of the magazine is due. If part of the blame were not me, but other people or circumstances, there wouldn’t be anything I could do about it right now either, so I’d move on just the same. But as with everything in life, once you have identified the problem, it no longer is a problem. Problem refers to “an intricate unsettled question”, as defined by Merriam-Webster; therefore, once analyzed, I should have no reason to keep stressing over it.
- Smile again. And allow that smile to make you feel grateful for having figured out why you are stressed; you will notice even more relaxation in your shoulders and neck.
Astrid Zeppenfeld is a writer and MM&E’s editor/business development manager from St. Louis.