EWL CEO Helen Moon ran our first ‘EWL Pop Up’ at International Confex on Thursday afternoon. Invited by Conference News to join their educational and knowledge line up on the pavilion stage, Helen wearing her EventWell hat delivered an interactive campfire discussion and debate on “EventFit for Purpose, how to rest body and mind after a big event in preparation for the next”.
The discussion was opened by Helen with an overview of her 21 year career in the events industry and her own personal wellbeing journey, including her career burn-out in 2009 and periods of intense distress and stress due to workplace bullying, and her own diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
The seed for EventWell was planted at Confex in 2016, when sat chatting with an event connection it was identified that both were managing complex and chronic mental health disorders and how it would be great to launch an initiative for the industry that raised awareness and understanding.
It was agreed at that time that the industry was not ready for a wellbeing initiative to launch, and a year later Helen was noticing that the hard industry stance on mental health and wellbeing was beginning to shift.
EWL held a wellbeing and mental health exchange early 2017 and the response and feedback from the event was so resounding that Helen then approached Paul Colston at Conference News, Alistair Turner at ILEA-UK, Samme Allen at BVEP and Louise Warren who had been the thought-leader at the event and #EventWell17 and UK Event Wellbeing Week was born.
EventWell Ltd, the industry’s first social enterprise and resource for event wellbeing is now launching as a result of the success and response from the 2017 campaign, and the second event wellbeing week, #EventWell18 will be taking place 17th to 21st September.
EventWell Ltd’s vision is to make tangible positive change to the event industry’s relationship with wellbeing, through values of empathy, culture and self-care.
It’s a hub that event professionals can go to for information and support and something Helen herself wishes had been in place for her in the past, but is now committed to helping others so they have somewhere to turn in times of distress.
Better self-care allows us to manage distress more effectively and respond better to life traumas and stresses. Here’s what Helen shared with us in terms of looking after ourselves after a big event and preparing for another busy week.
EventFit for Purpose!
Allow yourself the time to relax after a busy week, whether that’s a lie in a Saturday or Sunday morning, walking about in the outdoors, meeting friends for brunch, spending time with family and friends, partner, husband, kids, it’s really important that you switch off to concentrate on other important areas of your life (in Helen’s view the most important) to restore some balance.
Connecting with family and friends and maintaining these really important relationships is really important to wellbeing, just think about how we feel when we’ve spent time with people that we love, and simply try to do more of it.
What makes our hearts happy makes our minds happy.
It’s even claimed that this will help you to live longer too, what’s not to like!
Be mindful if the first thing we do is reach for a glass of wine or drink to help us relax and wind down.
Healthy consumption of alcohol should be reserved for those times when we’re socialising and entertaining.
It’s difficult when we work in an industry where alcohol is all around us, but when used as an aid to relax it’s easy for drink to become a crutch for some and this is when problems can arise leading to abuse and dependancy.
Alcohol is also a depressant, so it’s never a good idea to consume a depressant substance when we’re already feeling stress, there are plenty of other things we can be doing to relax.
Make our bedrooms a shrine to sleep! Remove our devices, think about black out blinds, get rid of the TV. Also think about establishing a bedtime routine, we had them when we were children – bath, book and bed – why do we stop when we get to adulthood?
Establishing a bedtime routine helps trigger our brains to release the melatonin needed to start to fall sleep.
It’s difficult when we’re time poor but can as simple as having a quick bath and then reading a book (not a device) whilst lying in bed, but try to do the same things each evening to trigger our brains to start to wind down.
Think about keeping a sleep diary to establish how much sleep we need, it’s different for different people and not always set to 8 hours, it can depend on age, gender, lifestyle. Take a few weeks or a month to make a note of how we feel in the morning (eg. refreshed, cranky, low concentration) and the number of hours sleep we got and then use this information to try and average out our hours of sleep each week moving forward so we feel refreshed and relaxed.
Sleep is the most important of all for wellbeing as it helps our brains and bodies process the impact and stresses of the week for recovery, repair and recuperation.
Diet is simply a question of balance. We should look at the foods we’re eating and ensure our meals are nutritious and balanced.
If you’re a busy event professional fad diets and cutting out food groups is not advisable unless for medical reasons and you have had prior consultation with a medical expert, your GP, or a qualified nutritionist.
Another good tip is protein, busy professionals with pressured careers should consider protein at every meal and there are lots of ways that we can incorporate this very easily to our diets. Snacking on nuts for example rather than crisps, adding chia seeds to overnight oats.
Drink lots of water, keeping ourselves hydrated, and cutting down on caffeine consumption which can heighten feelings of stress as the effects on our bodies is similar to that of cortisol and adrenalin, and watching the consumption of refined sugars. A cupcake is fine so long as it’s not the only thing we’re eating that day.
Balance is key!
30 minutes moderate exercise is all we need a day, which simply equates to increasing our heart rates.
Tasks such as brisk walking and hoovering achieve this really successfully, so we don’t need to be running marathons and cycling sportifs to achieve a satisfactory level of fitness.
Maybe consider hopping off the bus or tube a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way to the office each day, one small change like this can make a huge difference to our health, and it really is just about getting more active.
If we prefer something more intense then studies are proving that just 15 minutes a day is necessary however, we must ensure that any intense exercise is supported by our diets.
Mindfulness is the art of living in the present and focussing on the here and now.
There are lots of tools and techniques we can use including meditation to train our brain to become more mindful, the secret of which is looking into and researching the practise and trying out some techniques to find what works for us.
Simply breathing exercises can be used to re-establish balance and focus and become more mindful in how we operate and function, even scrapping the idea of multi-tasking as in Helen’s view when we are trying to do two tasks at once we are at the very least doing one of those badly.
Becoming better at putting our ‘focus and attention’ into what ‘needs’ focus and attention ‘now’ will ultimately make us better at prioritising, increase our confidence levels and in time makes us happier people.
Helen finished by saying that the key to self-care is finding what works for you and sticking to it, the above works for her but the key is to find what work for us as individuals.
There are lots of resources that can be found on the eventwell.org website that include living well, working well, eating, sleeping, exercising well, mindfulness as well as mental health, and we shouldn’t forget the 17th to 21st September.
#EventWell18 – Event Wellbeing Week 2018