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Stress in the events industry

Working within the events industry is exciting, fulfilling and never the same from one day to the next. Yet, the fast pace can easily burn people out – in 2019, Events Coordinator came 6th in the top 10 most stressful jobs to have.

With most event organisers being perfectionists and having demanding clients to work for, we tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves. Coping with time restrictions and high expectations isn’t always sustainable. The pressure to get all the details right and create the perfect event for a client, within budget and whilst managing a team can really take its toll.

That’s why it’s essential to be stress-aware and to keep an eye out for signs that you or others are starting to struggle. 

How to cope with stress

The good news is that stress is preventable, even in the high-pressure events industry. We can’t always control our responsibilities and the things that happen to us, but we can control how we prepare for and respond to them, reducing the impact of these stressful moments.

We’ve put together some strategies to ensure that you’re not just surviving but thriving in your role.

  • Get some fresh air and clear your head

At least once a day, get outside and walk around, even if it’s just a loop around the block if you don’t have any green space nearby. Getting fresh air can refocus your mind and stimulate a more creative thought process.

  • Get better at saying no

Sometimes clients can get carried away with the idea of an event and not realise that asking for the food trucks to be swapped for a three-course meal the week before their event isn’t a good idea. Always be polite, but make it clear that you’re not a fairy with a magic wand and endless amounts of time and energy.

  • Tech health

Let technology do the work, not become the work. From online registration to email distribution and on-site digital signage, there’s software to help with practically anything. Do some research and let the tech save you time and stress.

  • Have a backup plan

Things can’t always go to plan all the time, and that’s ok. Having a comprehensive backup plan that you can turn to will help to ease the pressure if something does go wrong.

  • Manage your time

When planning your day, be realistic about what you can achieve and don’t overload your schedule with huge tasks to complete. Create a checklist with all the jobs you need to do and cross them off as you go, breaking down large tasks into smaller, more manageable sub-tasks.

  • Build the right team and delegate

Trying to be in control of every detail can weigh you down and become too much to manage. Build a team of capable, reliable people around you and assign responsibilities to them – don’t be afraid to share the load. 

  • Cut back on caffeine and sugar

Coffee stimulates the adrenal glands, which means that every time you drink coffee, you’re activating the body’s fight-or-flight response. In addition, sugar has been linked to decreasing energy levels. Try to avoid overindulging to keep yourself feeling as healthy and happy as possible.

  • Exercise

Exercise does wonders for your physical and mental health and is a great way to relieve stress. Being active gives you a boost in feel-good endorphins and is a great distraction from everyday pressures. 

  • Let it go

Breathing is a great way to take a moment and get calm. Just a few minutes of focused and controlled breathing can help you feel less anxious and more grounded.

  • Self care

Take a hot bath, see friends, go to the cinema. The world won’t fall apart if you take an evening for yourself – in fact, it will have a positive effect on your work, as you’ll have given yourself time to reboot and start afresh.

  • Get enough sleep

Aim to be getting 7-8 hours a night and don’t underestimate the incredible power of a 20-minute nap. Try not to bring your smartphone into the bedroom and avoid scrolling before you sleep.

  • Most importantly, communicate!

If you’re struggling, talk to someone. Confiding in friends, colleagues, your manager or a health professional will help to lessen the burden and is the first step towards improving your health and wellbeing.

Stress Matters have recently launched a support line for events professionals struggling with stress. Visit www.stressmatters.org.uk for more information on the help they can provide.

Employers have a duty to assess the risk of work related stress and put steps in place to tackle it. They should have strategies in place in order to support you.

They can help by:

  • Being more flexible about working and break patterns
  • Holding meetings about workload
  • Planning collaboratively
  • Not piling on extra work when you’re already busy
  • Having a stress policy

We need to keep having the conversation about mental health in the events industry. So let’s start the conversation. Together we can reduce stress and improve workplace wellbeing. 

What are the symptoms of stress?

Stress can manifest itself in both mental and physical symptoms. If you’re feeling under a lot of pressure or are frequently worrying about deadlines, your workload or client expectations, look out for the following.

Emotional/mental symptoms of stress:

  • Low moods
  • Irritability, anger or emotional outbursts
  • Forgetfulness and clumsiness
  • Indecisiveness, restlessness and poor judgement
  • Withdrawal from friends and colleagues

Physical symptoms of stress:

  • Sleep problems, tiredness and feeling low on energy
  • Stomach pain and nausea
  • Headaches
  • Muscle pain
  • Nervous behaviours, such as nail biting and fidgeting
  • Loss of appetite

If you or a colleague are showing some of these signs, look into ways that you could reduce the level of stress and seek help from a manager and/or health professional if needed.