The wellness trend is here to stay and topics like work-life balance, meditation, sleep hygiene, mental health awareness, nutrition, and stress management are all proving to be popular additional offerings at events, both large and small.
Statistics from Mind’s Mental Health at Work website show that 1 in 6 workers experience problems with their mental health including anxiety, low mood and stress, which can all significantly impact performance and productivity. As a result businesses who are making employee wellness a priority have been shown to be outperforming their competitors by 10%, so really you can’t afford to leave wellness off your conference event agenda.
Event attendees’ are becoming more mindful of the types of experiences they would like to have, and that includes new opportunities to improve wellness. Event and conference planners who are able to include wellness on their agenda are more likely to see their event becoming a must-attend year after year and will ensure that they have the edge over their competitors.
But the term wellness can often be bandied around too freely and can tend to lose its true meaning and value – incorporating wellness in today’s events is much more than just adding a few healthy eating choices to the menu. There’s an entire culture built around the wellness movement and embracing it authentically means improving the lives of attendees through value-based event design.
So, what small steps can you be taking to incorporate elements of wellness into your next event?
Who doesn’t love a good boogie? Dancing has been shown to reduce depression, anxiety, and stress and boost self-esteem, body image, coping ability, and provide an overall sense of well-being.
The recent rise in popularity in morning raves like Morning Gloryville supports the idea that as well as being a healthy and positive way to start the day, dancing is an activity that people can really engage with and enjoy doing. So, it doesn’t matter if you have two left feet, or you’ve never been the most confident mover, dancing is good for you and your mood. Just bust out whatever moves you have.
If dancing isn’t you or your attendees thing, how about boosting the energy in the room by starting your conference or event with a laughter or singing workshop?
Laughter is known to release endorphins, the ‘feel-good’ chemical, and can provide relief from worry, reduce stress and help strengthen social connections. While singing has been proven to lower stress levels by releasing stored muscle tension and decreasing levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in your bloodstream. Singing also improves blood circulation improving mental alertness, concentration and memory. And like dancing you don’t need to be ‘able to sing’ to enjoy singing.
Engaging the five senses in event planning is a growing trend as a more immersive experience can create memorable and positive experiences. It’s also been suggested that the more the senses are stimulated the greater a person’s brain activation.
So, think about ways you can create opportunities for your attendees to see, sniff, hear, taste and touch their way to benefits such as reduced blood pressure, and lower stress levels.
Music stimulates areas of the brain responsible for emotions. Why not try introducing some emotive background music to breakout brainstorming sessions to amplify creative output. A study into neuromusicology has shown that background music improves the performance on cognitive tasks and improves accuracy, while music perceived as ‘happy’ or ‘upbeat’ increases levels of creativity. Participants in the study came up with more creative solutions and a greater number of ideas when they listened to music.
A ground-breaking study by University of Texas showed that colour elicits a reaction in the brain and can subsequently affect mood and overall productivity. Having coloured breakout rooms to coincide with the output you want is a fun way to reinforce your expectations of delegates. For example, the colour yellow gets the creative juices flowing and can help inspire delegates to come up with new, innovative ideas; while blue is calming and aids concentration and increases productivity. Even looking at something as small as a potted plant can help lower stress, so think about the environment you are creating for your delegates.
Food plays a huge part in how we feel and the role of food in helping maintain optimal concentration and motivation is huge. But don’t worry, a more healthy event menu doesn’t have to be a boring one.
Just moving away from processed food and serving up more locally sourced seasonal food can help improve concentration and attention. Too many carbs and sugars can lead attendees to lose focus in the afternoons making sessions during those times less productive and effective. Keep your menus clean and filled with “good” carbs to avoid the afternoon slump and keep engagement high.
Work with your venue chef to create a menu packed with foods that are known to boost your ability to focus and energy levels, like blueberries, green tea, avocados, leafy green vegetables, fatty fish, water, dark chocolate, flax seeds, and nuts. And protein packed, low-sugar options, and fruit are big winners in wellness.
Some events are even adding customisation to their wellness offerings through the introduction of smoothie and juice bars. To keep your team going, here at the eastside rooms we provide delegates all day access to hydration stations, which include seasonal whole fruit and a selection of nuts and seeds.
Did you know that even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity up to 13%?
Providing regular opportunities where attendees can relax, refresh, reset and take on information from the day indirectly helps them to retain information making them more likely to engage with your event content. Breaks can help minimise stress and maximise enjoyment in learning sessions and are a great boost for the mind and soul. When you pack too much into your event, participants can feel rushed and anxious and will be less likely to enjoy your event.
Scheduling in breaks for networking and connections with other attendees, or to check in with the office can also reduce stress levels and will add variety to the activities you are running.
Breaks also allow time to fit in some exercise, even if it’s just a quick walk during a lunch break. Strengthening the cardiovascular system through exercise helps us recover from a stressor more easily. Remember, any sort of movement counts.
You could also finish off your event with a short standing yoga session to help attendees decompress. Just 15 minutes can help your delegates to unwind and reset and provide a natural and positive end to the day’s proceedings. The benefits of yoga include relaxing muscles and releasing tension from the work day, which is even more important if you’ve spent most of the day sitting.
Smell is the strongest of your five senses and using aromatherapy can help to boost brain activity and increase productivity – with different scents producing different affects.
Smell can be so evocative, often bringing back memories and emotions. Perhaps experiment with lavender’s relaxation benefits, the uplifting scent of citrus (Japanese researchers discovered that inhaling the smell of lemon is an instant mood booster), and if you’re looking to get creative sparks flying, infuse the room with peppermint oil as it invigorates the mind, then beat the post-lunch slump with cinnamon scents which helps to fight mental fatigue. Create a different aroma and mood to compliment your event schedule.
Hydration is key for health and wellness. According to Healthline your brain is strongly influenced by it’s hydration status and recent studies show that even mild dehydration (1-3% of body weight) can impair many aspects of brain function.
Ensuring your attendees have access to water so they can consume adequate amounts throughout the day will improve concentration levels and produce a general feeling of wellbeing in addition to longer term benefits. Being well hydrated can help to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, as well as reduce cholesterol levels.