How to incorporate 'wellness' into events
Wellbeing and mindfulness in the working environment are undoubtedly having a moment – and rightfully so. Statistics from Mind’s Mental Health at Work website show that an alarming 1 in 6 workers experience problems with their mental health including anxiety, low mood and stress. The importance of addressing this vital issue is demonstrated by the statistic that businesses who are making employee wellness a priority are outperforming their competitors by 10%.
In their recent study (Feb 2019), The Incentive Research Foundation found that wellness was becoming a critical focus for businesses when planning an event, however whilst event planners have every intention of embedding wellness into their events, there is still a long way to go. 64% of event planners felt that their events were ‘somewhat healthy’, with only 5% reporting that their events were ‘very healthy’.
So how can we plan an event that enhances your delegates wellbeing as well as their knowledge?
1. Start the day laughing or singing
Elevate the energy in the room by kick starting your conference with a laughter or singing workshop.
Laughter is known to release endorphins – the ‘feel-good’ chemical – it provides relief from worry, reduces stress and strengthens social connections.
Singing has been proven to lower stress levels by releasing stored muscle tension and decreasing levels of cortisol – the stress hormone – in your blood stream. Singing also improves blood circulation improving mental alertness, concentration and memory. And you don’t need to be ‘able to sing’ to enjoy singing!
Image used with kind permission from Rock Your Business
2. Smells like success
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.
If you are 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. Essential oil vaporisers are inexpensive to buy and can be placed throughout the event, creating a different aroma in each zone if required.
3. Feel good food
Nutrition plays a big part in how we feel – as the old adage goes ‘you are what you eat’. Conferences are notorious for poor food choices. So, try swapping pastries and coffee at your 11am break for raw energy bar green tea and wheat grass shots to reenergise your delegates.
At lunch, avoid refined carbs and provide options that contain complex carbohydrates to keep blood sugar level and your delegates awake for the rest of the afternoon! The humble sandwich is the simplest way to combine a complex carbohydrate (wholemeal bread) with protein and good fats. Alternatively, think salads with lots of veggies, wholegrain pasta or brown rice. Swap high-fat puddings with plain/Greek yoghurt and fresh fruit.
4. Musical boost
Try introducing 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.
5. Get colourful
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.
6. The importance of downtime
Conferences are typically quite intensive learning environments so it’s important to leave enough time between sessions for delegates to absorb and digest the information they’ve just received. Think about having chill out areas with beanbags to promote relaxation and allow a 10-15 minute break between each sessions to allow delegates to refresh their focus.
7. Mindfulness sessions
Wellbeing isn’t just for events! Empower your delegates with mindfulness techniques that they can bring back to their desks. There are a multitude of inspirational Mindfulness and Stress Management speakers who can enable your delegates to be happier and more successful.
8. Wind down with Yoga
Finish off your event with a short standing yoga session. Even just 15 minutes can help your delegates to unwind and reset. Benefits of yoga include relaxing muscles and releasing tension from the work day – even more important if you’ve spent most of the day sitting!