Ask the Expert: Small Steps Lead to Happy and Healthy Event Attendees

John Ayo

Q: Conferences take my attendees out of their routines and away from time for physical activity while offering endless food and drink, late nights and early mornings. What are small steps I can take to infuse opportunities for wellness and self-care into a busy meeting agenda?

A: Most people will lose their routine at conferences, and there really isn’t much we can do about that. I used to pack my workout clothes for events with the best of intentions of getting to the fitness facility, but it seemed that networking options always won out. Sometimes this is the only time we see certain people and that really should be the priority. We can make up the exercise in
other ways.

Hydration Stations

Making purified water readily available is one of the best things you can do for your attendees’ wellness. As most people are dehydrated, making it easy to get purified water is a great first step. Infusion stations (as featured at the TSAE New Ideas 2018 conference in Dallas) are also very popular, where you can add fruits and certain herbs to a water bottle.

Mindfulness/Stretching Sessions

You might want to consider adding a morning pre-meeting where attendees can do a guided mindfulness meditation to start their day. Having this on the actual meeting agenda gives them permission to try something new, that may become a fabulous habit when they get back home.

Perhaps you could sprinkle these throughout the conference as optional “sessions” where attendees can go to a quiet place (an electronic-free zone) to recharge their mental and social batteries. If mindfulness is not of interest, maybe something like an instructor-led stretching session could be an option.

Your brain can only absorb so much content at a time, so encouraging this type of relaxation behavior is a big win in terms of actual content transfer. Would it be possible to have the event host highlight these options with enthusiasm at the beginning of the conference to encourage people to give it a try?

Exercise Throughout the Conference

There are many opportunities for exercise at a conference, we just have to encourage attendees to take them. For example, taking the stairs instead of the escalator or walking to dinner instead of a taxi or rideshare (if it’s safe), and walking back to the hotel after dinner. Have you selected a venue within walking distance from a reasonable group of restaurants? I recommend people take the stairs to their sleeping room as well.

Q: I have a hard time sleeping in my hotel room, especially on the first night. Any suggestions?

A: You are not alone! The best thing you can do is to make your hotel room as comfy as possible, as your body notices the change in environment and can go on high alert. One of the best ways to do this is to diffuse calming essential oils into the room to create the smell of comfort. If you don’t have (or don’t’ want to pack) a diffuser, you can put a few drops of your favorite oil on a cotton ball and place it in the A/C vent in the room.

Consider trying a few of these:

  • Take a hot bath or shower.
  • Drink some calming tea.
  • Read a book.
  • Take calming supplements (melatonin or herbal sleep formula.
  • Put your cell phone in airplane mode and move it at least 6 feet from your bed.
  • Remove all electronics from around the bed (especially near your head).
  • Try to avoid watching dramatic movies or reading social media.

The more small things you can do to reduce stress, the better your chances of sleeping, especially that first night.

Author John Ayo is an internationally recognized keynote speaker, wellness expert (Naturopath) and author. He delivers his content on staying healthy and sane in a crazy world (especially when you travel) via presentations and workshops for Association and Corporate events. Learn more at www.TravelBalance.net.
Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Aamulya

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