Between the negotiating, acting as the middleman between clients and venues, unconventional hours and intense deadlines, it’s no surprise meeting planners have incredibly stressful jobs. The pandemic has pushed people to the limits and, for many people, taken a toll on their mental well-being. We’ve rounded up some tips and tricks for handling a successful meeting-planner career while finding peace and balance.
One of the best ways to stay on top of all the elements that being a meeting planner entails is staying organized. It may sound simple, but there’s nothing simple about it, according to Certified Meeting Planner Terry Matthews-Lombardo. It’s all about the details, and it seems like the smaller the item you’re dealing with (such as missing name tags or not enough chairs in the breakout room) the bigger the stress level, Terry says. Details are more important than ever when it comes to the health and safety of attendees. Planners need to attend to a large amount of smaller details that collectively contribute to the success or failure of the program.
With more than 40 years of industry experience, Terry knows a thing or two about managing stress in this stress-filled industry. Of course, like most planners, the pandemic has changed the landscape, but some of the basics remain. Terry recommends getting organized by making comprehensive check lists, and keeping a good network of industry professionals that you can call upon for advice and counsel as needed. Now more than ever, people want to connect and share their experiences. Try joining a professional network or organization like Connect Meetings, Senior Planners Industry Network (SPIN), or Meeting Professionals International (MPI). Having the wise counsel and collective wisdom of all the members just an email or phone call away is priceless.
Get Outside and Explore
Elm Creek Park Reserve
One of the best ways to relieve stress is to escape and enjoy the fresh air and beauty of nature. No matter the weather, you’ll find Certified Meeting Planner Lisa Laubgross out hiking or horseback riding, an activity that helps her blow off steam after a busy day of planning. And it doesn’t have to be a big outdoor adventure. Terry finds joy walking her dog. Even just a few minutes can make a big difference.
Luckily, there’s no shortage of outdoor recreation in the Minneapolis Northwest area. In any season you can get fully immersed in nearly 5,000 acres of Elm Creek Park Reserve. The scenery is always beautiful, and there is almost always wildlife about - even in winter. During the snowy months, get lost in the thrill of tubing, enjoy a relaxing jaunt around the night-lit cross-country ski trails, or try out some new tricks in the all-terrain park. In the fall and spring, observe the changing of the seasons with a refreshing hike or bike ride along the park’s endless trails. In the summer, cool off with a dip in the swim pond.
Mississippi River Paddle Share
To truly escape from it all, rent a kayak through the Mississippi River Paddle Share program and glide along the Mississippi River from Mississippi Gateway Regional Park or North Mississippi Regional Park. This unique program is the first of its kind in the country! For a very tranquil experience, take the route from North Mississippi Regional Park to Boom Island Park. Take your time and enjoy three full hours on the river. Bring a picnic, observe the heron rookery north of the Lowry Avenue Bridge, or stop for a snack or beverage at one of several local stops along the way.
Find Peace of Mind
In many ways, the best stress relief is simply being present and living in the moment. Lisa recommends leaving your phone and other devices behind and getting unplugged. Take advantage of times when you don’t have to be responsive, Lisa says. “You don’t have to reply to messages immediately,” she says. “Someone else’s craziness isn’t mine. Just because they wanted to get it off their plate, doesn’t mean you have to jump to respond.”
There’s really no better way to relieve stress than to calm your mind, but finding mindfulness or learning the art of meditation can take time and practice. Luckily there’s the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center, a vibrant community committed to Zen practice and teachings, that offers daily sitting meditation, weekly classes and lectures, and monthly intensive meditation retreats. People from all over the region come to the donation-based center to find relaxation and peace of mind. Beginners are welcome!
Yoga is another great way to relieve both physical and mental stress! For a truly integrative approach, check out Healthwise Studio. Founded by psychologists, Healthwise Studio offers a fresh approach to self-care, one that brings focus to the connection of your mind, body and spirit through the practice of yoga and mindfulness. From yoga classes to mindfulness workshops and nutrition classes, the services are simple, yet powerful, and are appropriate for all who wish to awaken the body, uplift the spirit and quiet the mind. Healthwise is excited to open a new location in Maple Grove this fall!
Olfactory Scent Studio
Sometimes something as simple as a smell can put you in a relaxing mood; it’s just a matter of finding the right scent for you. At Olfactory Scent Studio, you blend your own favorite scents into a candle, body spray, room diffuser or body scrub. The process starts by smelling up to 100 candle fragrances and making note of which ones you like best. Then, a Scent Stylist will walk you through which scents to choose for the best blend. You'll create something special and unique that can create a peaceful ambiance in your home (or home office). Popular scents include anjou pear, baked bread, cedar, Georgia peach, juniper, magnolia, mahogany, maple syrup, old books, sea breeze, sugar cookie, and white tea.
Work Off the Negative Energy
When you have a stressful day, sometimes nothing feels better than working off (or sweating out!) the negative energy and stress with a great workout. Exercise is Lisa’s go-to escape from long, stressful days. “It doesn’t have to be going to the gym, but any activity that brings you joy.”
Finding the time to work out can be a constant struggle, but 9Round in Brooklyn Park offers a high-yield workout in half the time with kickboxing fitness in 30-minute circuit sessions. Shake off the stress of the day and head to a class at Jazzercise Brooklyn Park or Jazzercise Maple Grove. Each class is set to pulse-pounding music to get your hips in the mood for dancing, and the high-intensity workouts also mix in cardio, resistance training, Pilates, yoga and kickboxing.
Tap Into Your Creativity
Stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new things can also help you re-focus and release some of the meetings and events-related tension. Lisa recommends volunteering, cooking, or trying any activity that you’ve always wanted to try or have a passion for outside of your day-to-day meeting planning.
“I also have an encore career as a travel writer which helps me look at other aspects of our industry and practice creative storytelling about places I’ve visited, and sometimes I feel like that’s a great stress reliever to have an outlet beyond meeting planning,” Lisa says.
Tiny Footprint Coffee
Whether you want to learn how to cook ethnic cuisine, create latte art, paint a masterpiece, knit a scarf, dabble in cake design or whip up some French macarons – you can find classes and learning opportunities on just about anything in or near our area! If you’re a coffee fanatic and are looking to up your game, Tiny Footprint Coffee in Brooklyn Center has plenty of options to help you achieve your goal. The locally owned coffee company that produces the world’s first carbon negative coffee, and offers fun, interactive training classes for baristas of all skill levels.
Have you always wanted to make your own scarf, mittens or even a sweater? Amazing Threads in Maple Grove offers an array of knitting and crocheting classes to help you complete your next big project. Located just north of the Arbor Lakes shopping area, Amazing Threads offers the largest selection of yarns in the Midwest. Give knitting a whirl with Knitting 101, a 12-week course that covers the basic ins and outs of the art of knitting.
If art is your passion, try a class at the Maple Grove Arts Center. The arts center offers a variety of classes from creating comic books and creating silk scarves to pottery and painting, and just about anything in between. Check its ever-changing class schedule for more inspiration.
Do you dream of creating a beautiful cake for a special event to impress all your friends and family? There is no better place to learn how to decorate a cake than America’s premier cupcake shop and custom cake studio and Food Network’s Cupcake Wars winner, Nadia Cakes.
No matter what team-building activity you choose, we can help get you started. Contact our Director of Business Development, Megan Diaz: Megan@mplsnw.com