Jeffry Farman, CountryPlace director, shares some simple ideas that have helped him.
Planning conferences can be a high stress activity and demanding responsibility. You know the feeling . . . a quickened heart-rate, a slight feeling of queasiness leading to anxiousness, or being totally overwhelmed.
It is possible to arrest the hormones pumping and the blood pressure rising quickly. You have the power to reset almost instantly. Here are a few scientific ways to help. And keep your stress in check.
Go for a 10 minute walk
While just about any walk will help to clear your head and boost endorphins (which, in turn, reduces stress hormones), consider walking in a park or other green space, which can actually put your body into a state of meditation, thanks to a phenomenon known as “involuntary attention” during which something holds our attention, but simultaneously allows for reflection.
Any yogi knows that the breath -- known as pranayama or “life force” -- plays an important role in nourishing the body. And medical researchers agree. Breathing exercises -- or even just taking a few deep breaths -- can help reduce tension and relieve stress, thanks to an extra boost of oxygen. While shallow breathing -- a marker of stress -- stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, deep breathing does the opposite: It stimulates the parasympathetic reaction, which helps us to calm down.
What’s more, breathing exercises have been proven in clinical research to aid some of the systems that are harmed by stress: They can reduce blood pressure and may even be able to change the expression of some genes, according to Harvard researcher Herbert Benson.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Start with your toes and work your way up: tighten your foot muscles as much as you can, then relax them. Make your way up, tightening and relaxing each muscle until you’ve finished with your face. It may seem silly, but this practice can help reduce anxiety and stress and is often recommended to patients who suffer from depression and anxiety disorders.
Put On Some Music
While classical music has a particularly soothing effect -- it slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure and even decreases levels of stress hormones -- any music that you love will flood your brain with feel-good neurochemicals like dopamine.
And while music can soothe everyday anxiety (crank it up on the drive home!), research shows that it’s particularly beneficial for those in the midst of stressful events, like surgery.
Don’t have your headphones handy? Try humming or making your own music. One study of stressed-out nursing students found that recreational music-making relieved stress and prevented burnout.
Seriously, Turn Off Your Phone
Smartphones, in particular, are linked to increased stress, as more and more people feel pressure to respond to messages at all times. Just turn it off for a while. Feels good.
Download a relaxation app.
There are many good ones. My favourite is CALM - the 2017 “Best of 2017 APP OF THE YEAR.” https://www.calm.com It’s an inspirational process to bring yourself down. Guided meditation sessions for daily living. Meditate . . . Breathe . . . Sleep . . . Relax. It’s a beauty.
Finally, a good way to reduce stress for meeting planners is to download our FREE Conference Guide.