MENTAL HEALTH AND THE EVENTS INDUSTRY: HOW TO COPE WITH THE BUSY PERIOD.
For me, the last 4 weeks consisted of 13 flights, 66 hours of flying, 6 events and I completed 3 successful pitches …. Oh, and I moved house! So, whilst I am sitting on my last flight of the month, I thought now was the perfect opportunity to share how take care of my mental health whilst working in a tirelessly busy industry.
Having worked in the event industry for nearly a decade and having been hit with different mental health challenges along the way, I can fully understand the pressures that working in events brings. Did you know that Forbes has named Event Management as the fifth most stressful job to have for 3 years running? I have no doubt that working within this industry has contributed to my mental health, both negatively and positively, but guess what… I wouldn’t change my job for the world, I absolutely love it.
If you work in the world of Events, it is always busy, but there are certain months that I would describe as ‘hellish’, I’m sure you’ve all experienced those. For emc3 it is usually January, June, September & October. These are the months when your team need to be as tightknit as an American football team preparing to huddle– metaphorically locking arms around each other, psyching each other up ready to run at the events, tackling any challenges you didn’t see coming & picking each other up when you are totally and utterly exhausted. Getting through the game, the month, together.
That takes me on to the first and possibly the most important factor for keeping on top of your mental health whilst in this ‘hellish’ period.
If you don’t have the right team or support network around you, then getting through any busy period is going to be a real challenge. There have been numerous times in the last hectic month where I felt I was going to slip back into a dark place or struggle with severe anxiety, but then there were moments that reminded me I was completely and utterly supported and that helped me pick myself back up.
One of these moments came about when my flight was delayed by 10 hours and I’d just spent the night sleeping on a chair in the airport and consequently I had missed my brothers birthday; my colleague and I just joked and laughed the 10 hours away, and actually managed to make light of a situation which otherwise may have made me extremely stressed, anxious and upset.
There was also a time that I mentioned to my boss that I was feeling rubbish being abroad and that I was really noticing the effect on my mind and body of not having enough time to follow my usual exercise routine. He then offered to book me on to my favourite class the next day. They even offered to help me move out of my house the one weekend of four I was in the country. It’s these offers of help and support, that really let me know I’m supported and that whatever I may be facing in these hellish weeks are understood by those that matter, my team and support network.
It is vital to success that you make sure you have the right support in the workplace and also for you to have someone to speak to about any mental health issue you might be dealing with, especially in a busy time when it is easy for people to think you are just simply stressed.
Work life balance
Work life balance is crucial to a happy life. However, in a hectic week or month, you must admit defeat. Sometimes there will be points in the year where you must focus on your life more i.e. You are getting married or taking a long break. But in a ‘Hellish’ month, you must focus on your work. If you add the pressure of seeing friends, being in constant contact with family, working out every day, continuing with hobbies. Then you are just making it harder on yourself and making yourself more susceptible to mental health issues.
That being said “life” shouldn’t go out the window; schedule in exercise when possible and make the team aware so they feel they can too, let friends know you are going to be less available for a month but book in some dates to let them know you will be back, plan a few days away with your partner as something to look forward to, and set up a family WhatsApp group to send pictures of your events and travels all in one message.
Another thing emc3 do really well, which I would recommend implementing within your team, is to ensure you make the most of the experience and the place where your events take place. It can be as little as getting everyone some new swag from the destination, taking them to a local restaurant to switch off, or giving them free time to go out and explore.
Finally, always put yourself first. When you know you have a busy month coming up, prepare by really focusing on yourself and what youneed. This is so you are mentally in the best place you can be, before the stressful time hits. This could be upping your exercise, eating better, seeing friends more, having a clear out or even just going to that doctor’s appointment you put off. It is crucial you are feeling mentally strong, if you aren’t then you must let someone in your team know.
When in the hectic month, keep a level of the ‘you first attitude’. Put your foot down when you need to. That could mean skipping a hotel breakfast in order to go to the gym and just have a grab and go instead, saying you want to take your lunch break as an outdoor fresh air break or simply using the flight time to watch Netflix and have downtime. It could be anything you feel is reasonable to keep yourself mentally healthy, your bosses or your team will thank you later as they will need you on your best form too.
Once the busy month is over, give yourself the time you deserve to recover. Make sure you take some extra days off and catch up on all the things you felt you missed out on in the last month. Read the books you didn’t get time to, see the people you didn’t get to see and enjoy any moments of downtime because before you know it, you’ll be right in the middle of another busy period.