Is Stress an Occupational Hazard?
Last year, a US News & World report proclaimed “Meeting Planner” one of the best careers for 2011. The report also noted “stress levels can be high”. No kidding!
Now, a new study from CareerCast lists “Event Coordinator” as one of the top 10 most stressful jobs. Number six, to be exact – right after Police Officer. The company’s 2012 Job Stress Report surveyed 200 different professions measuring work environment, job competitiveness and risk. (In case you’re wondering, Enlisted Soldier was #1 most stressful, followed by Firefighter, Airline Pilot and Military General.)
A Meeting Planner’s Life: Grace Under Pressure
If you’re a professional meeting or event planner, your qualifications summary probably looks like this: excellent juggler, negotiator, diplomat, communicator and quick-change artist. Not to mention: possess nerves of steel and make split-second decisions when faced with last-minute changes or unexpected challenges.
According to Wikipedia: “Event planners’ work is considered either stressful or energizing…fast-paced and demanding.” Your life as a meeting planner is also creative, inspiring, and immensely rewarding. And that’s why you love it, right ? The most successful pros have a passion for their work!
But there’s still that issue of meeting planner stress.
Along with the pressure of making sure your events run smoothly and attendees are happy, you probably eat on the run, and have little time for exercise or relaxation – let alone sleep – while on site. And there’s no such thing as “planner’s hours” – your hours vary and are likely to include evenings and weekends. It all adds up to unhealthy stress levels, which deplete your energy and rob you of your joy.
The late neuropsychologist Dr. Paul Pearsall was one of the most requested speakers in the world; he was also the author of over 200 professional articles and 18 books. His fascinating article, “The Causes & Cures of MPS (Meeting Planner Stress)” was published in 2005, but still rings true today.
After interviewing a group of 28 meeting professionals for a clinical research study, Dr. Pearsall concluded that “Only meeting planners seem to know what a meeting planner does. Meeting planners fully understood the complex and time-consuming nature of their work, but few others in their organization seemed to really get it…”
Are you nodding in agreement right about now?
Here are five stress-control tips you can begin implementing today:
1) Make contingency plans. Accept that you can’t control everything, and take charge of the things you can – have a backup plan to your “Plan B”.
2) Get your 40 winks! Studies show a strong link between insomnia and chronic stress. Experts recommend going to bed at a regular time each night, striving for at least seven to eight hours of sleep and eliminating distractions such as television and computers from the bedroom.
3) Get active. Physical activity increases your body’s production of feel-good endorphins, a type of neurotransmitter in the brain. Better yet, get out in the fresh air – a brisk walk will do the trick.
4) Be prepared. Don’t leave details to the last minute, and secure all agreements in writing.
5) Breathe deep. Take a relaxation break and practice some deep breathing or mindfulness meditation. It will calm your nerves, refresh your mind, and help you stay present and focused.
And here’s a bonus tip: Check out “Yoga for Meeting Planners – Stress Management & Team-Building with a Twist”
This Kindle book by Darrin Zeer might be the best $4.99 investment you can make. Try a few yoga stretches in the book – they can be done anywhere, anytime, whether you’re in the office, on the phone, in meetings – even in bed!
And finally, we leave you with these wise words from the late, great Dr. Pearsall:
Remember why you do what you do. Business meetings serve as a major avenue for learning, connecting, rewarding, and celebrating the work that we do. Meeting planners are the deans of this unique corporate curriculum, and their stress can be reduced by taking more moments to stop, take a deep breath, and just watch as attendees learn something new, connect in the ways they so dearly need but too seldom do, and enjoy the wonderful opportunity you have created for them.”
Now it’s your turn: Planners, how do you cope with job-related stress? What tips do you have to share?