Mindful Meetings: Expert Tips for Reducing Stress During the Holidays
Part 1 of a 3-part series
The holidays. Ah, the most wonderful time of the year, right?
And for some, the most stressful. Add to that, the days are notoriously shorter during this time of year, which for busy meeting planners and business meeting attendees can compound the effects of jet lag and even potentially contribute to Seasonal Affective Disorder.
But how can meeting planners and event organizers help reduce stress and put wellness on the agenda this holiday season and beyond this winter? Plus, how can those who are traveling during the winter prioritize their mental health while on the road?
In Part 1 of the series, ALHI caught up with Carolina Campanella, VP of Consumer & Behavioral Insights at Delos, who shares strategies on how to boost meeting planners' and attendees' mood during the winter.
This time of year, it can feel as though we’re going to work in the dark and coming home from work in the dark. No doubt, the amount of natural light meeting attendees receive is impacted during the winter months when the days shorten.
In addition to impacting your attendees’ circadian rhythms and exacerbating jet-lag symptoms—which can include fatigue, a lack of concentration, and irritability—a lack of light can also impact mood overall, Campanella said.
“Therefore, it is important to build in time into attendee’s schedules to allow for breaks where attendees can go outside or be near windows. Avoid scheduling meeting times during lunch hours, or consider including morning coffee breaks, where attendees can go outside,” she added.
The winter months usually lead to longer periods of inactivity, which can impact mood and energy levels for attendees, Campanella pointed out. Consider building in opportunities for movement during the day. This could include morning yoga sessions or walks.
“Alternatively, if most attendees have fitness trackers, consider friendly group competitions around step count to encourage attendees to move more during the day,” she said.
Also, did you know that winter can coincide with periods of light dehydration due to changes in climate? Research shows that the proper hydration can impact cognitive performance and alertness, according to Delos. To help attendees remain hydrated throughout the meeting make sure to place water stations through the meeting space, Campanella said.
The winter months can coincide with increased periods of isolation due to the weather, remote work and potential health restrictions, all of which can impact mood and increase feelings of loneliness. The good news: Meetings can be natural antidotes as they are opportunities for people to come together, Campanella said. To facilitate socialization, schedule opportunities for informal networking during the meeting, she recommends.
Nicole Knoderer, CMP, who completed the Delos Wellness Certificate for Meetings & Events, built a day dedicated to wellness into the itinerary of a recent leadership conference for SHPE—the nation’s largest association dedicated to fostering Hispanic leadership in science, technology, engineering and math fields.
The group of college students and professionals in attendance started the morning with chair yoga and a meditation session with breakfast. During the day they also painted “kindness rocks” with positive messages to leave in their communities for others to find.
The idea, Knoderer said, was to pause from the “go-go-go” pace of work and life and to have some valuable time to look inward. “We encouraged them as they went back to their chapters to make sure to incorporate these types of activities in addition to their normal events they plan,” she said.