If you're headed to BlissDom Canada this year, you're probably getting pretty excited.
You might also be freaking out just a little.
Or, a lot.
For many of us, conferences can be stressful and exhausting. It might be the travel issue, the awkward moments of trying to remember someone's name, the stress of trying to fit everything in to a compressed chunk of time. Maybe you’re dreading leaving your kids for a few days (both a stressor and a stress-reliever, in my book...but maybe that’s just me).
Perhaps you're an introvert at heart. Strolling into a conference room full of strangers with whom you're about to network and share and talk for hours on end...well, you might sooner have root canal.
So how to cope with the stress of it all?
It’s important to take care of the basics: get sufficient sleep, eat well, exercise regularly. Then, you need a toolbox of specific stress busters.
And not like this:
No, what I’m talking about is abdominal breathing, otherwise known as diaphragmatic breathing. It's one of the simplest and quickest way of accessing the relaxation response. And there's a lot of research to show that breathing exercises are effective for treating anxiety, panic, depression, and chronic pain. Here’s how you do it.
Aromatherapy, especially lavender, has been demonstrated to improve anxiety in a variety of stressful settings, like a dentist’s waiting room, and after working a night shift. Lavender aromatherapy has the potential to reduce serum cortisol—an important stress hormone. So why not tuck a lavender sachet or vial of essential oil into your suitcase?
Stress translates to involuntary muscle tension, which translates to headaches, back pain, and a cramped up gut. To counteract that, you need to learn the technique of progressive muscle relaxation. It’s a feedback loop: when your muscles are relaxed, you feel more relaxed. But it’s a technique that needs to be learned, and then practiced a bit to fully benefit.
Sometimes, you just need to get away. Stepping out to recharge can do wonders. To clear your head, to do some abdominal breathing—whatever. This is especially important for introverts, who get drained by all that time around other people, and need to centre themselves with a little alone time.
I frequently talk about the idea that music is medicine. Bring your ipod and load it up with a variety of tunes: soothing sounds, fun tunes, energizing songs. A brief music break, back in your room, can work wonders. And, while you’re at it, a little of this wouldn’t hurt:
Hunger is a stress on your body. It's easy to get caught up in doing all the things...but you really need to pause and have something to eat. Tuck easy snacks into your purse and carry them with you. Choose high protein nosh if possible (a granola bar, string cheese, almonds).
Meditation clears the mind, calms the nerves, and has been shown to improve memory, boost cognitive function, and decrease pain. And, here's a bonus: you don't have to practice for hours on end to benefit. Even brief meditation—5 or 10 minutes—can do wonders.
There's some interesting research to show that chewing gum can improve mood and reduce stress. What's more, chewing gum has been associated with improved attention, greater alertness and better cognitive function. Who needs coffee? (Well, I do...but that's another story...)
I’m a big fan of yoga. If you can’t find me in front of a computer you can probably find me on my yoga mat. But what I’ve learned in recent years is that yoga doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I rarely have time for a full-on class, but I still benefit from regular, brief practice. Yoga combines many of the stress-relieving principles I’ve already mentioned: breathing, meditation, movement...so choose a few poses to do in your room, when you first wake up, or before you go down to the conference.
Laughter is a miracle treatment for stress. And if you don't have anything immediately to hand to make you chuckle, take another look at the GIF of Hugh Grant dancing, above.
Bottom line: nothing kills the Bliss part of BlissDom quicker than a bunch of pent-up stress. But with this stress-busting arsenal at your disposal, you'll be much better able to enjoy the conference.
By the way—if you're attending BlissDom this year, please come and say hi if you see me! Maybe we can do a little of this at one of the cocktail parties?
For more articles, tips, and tricks to help you get organized and make the most of your blog and business visit our BlissDom Canada 2014: How Do You Find Your Bliss? page.
Membership Has Its Perks!
Have you got a kid in college or high-school? If you do, I bet you'd love to help her gain an academic advantage, not to mention a health advantage. I was recently sent this fantastic infographic for feedback, and because I thought it was so great, I wanted to share it with all of you.
It's filled with well-researched information in an easy-on-the-eyes format. (And truth be told, we can steal a few of the tips for ourselves.)
I've spoken about the health benefits of omega-3 in the past, the beauty of coffee, and chocolate, and other delicious ways to boost your brain power, but it's nice to have it in one cute, highly (ahem) digestible package.
So, if the students in your life could use a little help with studying, sleep, and stress relief, send this to them:
graphic attribution: TheBestColleges.org