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How Event Professionals Are Managing Their Mental Health

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For Mental Health Awareness Month, our team shares their best self-care strategies.

Even in the best of times, running an event was the 6th most stressful job in the world, ranking just below running into a burning building.

Then 2020, and the widespread shift to remote work, happened. And according to the CDC, 41.5 percent of American adults reported experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety between August 2020 and February 2021—a 14 percent increase over the previous year. So for event professionals coping with unprecedented workloads and external stress post-2020, managing mental health can make the difference between adapting or burning out.

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, our team shared some of the self-care strategies that have helped them manage their mental health and continue delivering for our customers.

Disclaimer: Self-care isn't a substitute for treatment from a licensed mental health professional. If you or someone you love struggling with mental health, consult the resources we've linked at the bottom of this post for guidance from a trusted mental health resource.

Eat Better to Feel Better 

According to a mountain of mental health research, what we eat impacts what we think. 

Elizabeth Schaul, an Account Executive at BigMarker, recommends consuming enough magnesium to support a stable mood. High-magnesium diets have been shown to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression, mostly by regulating neurotransmitters and modulating stress responses. 

To ensure you’re eating enough magnesium, aim to consume 310-420 mg of magnesium each day from nutritious sources, including leafy greens, legumes, whole grains, nuts and dark chocolate.

Schaul also takes B vitamins to promote mental health and reduce stress-induced headaches, as deficiencies in Vitamin B-12 and other B-family vitamins have been linked with depression and other mood disorders. Good sources of B-vitamins include fortified breakfast cereals or animal products like fish, lean meat, poultry and eggs.

Pets Not For You? Take Care of Plants. 

The pandemic brought all the Millennial plant moms to the yard—and the well-documented mental health benefits of plant ownership kept them there. 

That’s because gardening provides the same serotonin boost as pet parenting without the added stress of say, housebreaking a newborn puppy. 

Caring for plants has been shown to reduce physiological and psychological stress, possibly by suppressing sympathetic nervous system activity and promoting feelings of calmness. 

And for Jess Leahy, an Associate Director of Customer Success at BigMarker, the ease of caring for her plants makes other self-care practices seem less time-consuming and more accessible. 

 “Once I started getting into gardening, it made the setting of daily routines—meditating for 15 minutes before the start of the day, making sure to stretch out more than once a day if I sit for more than 1 hour—easier to conceptualize and practice, because I was already getting up to check on all the plants on a frequent basis.” 


Motivational quotes not included

Manage Your Schedule to Manage Your Mental Health

Working with our customers to execute events on tight deadlines, Rita Winiecki, our Brand Marketing Manager and former Account Manager, learned to manage her workday in a way that minimizes stress. Some of her best tips are below. 

  • Set boundaries and plan ahead. Nothing’s worse than taking a much-needed day off, only to spend it worrying about what will happen if one of your clients has an issue while you’re gone. So when you take time off, tell your clients when (or if) you are available to respond to their messages and develop an escalation process for emergencies (things happen!). With that plan in place, you can fully disconnect from your work life and trust your team to respond to issues that arise as best as they can. 
  • Budget self-care into your day. Set a schedule for each day that includes: time blocked for answering emails, time blocked to accomplish 1-3 long-term action items, time blocked for time-sensitive items. Also block off time for 15-30 minute breaks in the day for stretching, getting outside for a walk, etc. 
  • Prioritize and streamline. Create a master list of everything that needs to be accomplished and by what date, then each week set 3-5 long-term or "big" projects you need to accomplish by EOW. Depending on the size of the project, you may need to break it down into 3-5 smaller sprint projects so you can stay on task but not be overwhelmed.

PS: Don’t just balance your tasks but crush each one with our best project management tips.  

Talk To Yourself Like You Would Your Best Friend 

In the workplace, setbacks are inevitable. It’s our response to those situations that can protect—or harm—our mental health. 

Speaking kindly to yourself can help you cope with challenging situations, while ruminating over your mistakes is associated with increased neuroticism and depression

But if you struggle with self-compassion, you won’t be able to start a positive dialogue with yourself without diving into self-criticism. 

Instead, talk to yourself like you would your best friend. We’re biased to perceive ourselves more negatively than we see other people, meaning that we’d forgive our friends and coworkers for doing the things that we’d criticize ourselves for. 

“Describe the issue as if you’re talking to someone else,” says Priscilla Castillejo, our Customer Success Manager. “Approaching the issue from a more objective point of view gets emotions out of the way and helps you understand what happened without being too hard on yourself.” 


Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 


Optimize Your 5-to-9 

Work can get monotonous enough on its own. Combine it with a stale personal life and you’re going to fall into a rut. 

If you can optimize your life outside the office, you’ll see significant mental health benefits that translate to better and more productive work, too. Some of our best tips include: 

  • Keep work out of sight to keep it out of mind: If you work remotely, resist the urge to catch up on non-essential emails during your evenings. Although it’ll feel as if you’re making up ground, skimping on downtime is like skimping on exercise. It’ll catch up with you, according to research from the Society for Labour, Industrial and Organizational Psychological Research

    “Being contacted for work-related matters outside of regular/normal working hours may interrupt and reduce time for recovery from work-related strain and could potentially interfere with biological and social rhythms needed for recovery, sleep, and social participation, depending on the time the contact occurs,” the report says. 

    So protect your work-life balance—and health—by turning off your Slack notifications and email push notifications every night. 

    Lars Ebsworth, a Customer Success Associate at BigMarker, also recommends separating your work and personal spaces as much as possible within your home. “Have a work spot in your house and make it a designated zone to make it feel like you're really off when you're off,” they say. 
  • Nail your morning routine: By now, you’ve heard about how morning routines are the secret to like, curing cancer or creating the next Tesla. I’m not about to tell you to run 5 miles and drink Kombucha every day. 

    For me, running first thing in the morning keeps me from overthinking the day’s tasks and getting overwhelmed before the work even begins. Science bears that out: Even taking a walk outside reduces self-rumination, a.k.a the spiral of negative self-talk that causes depression

    Lara Jardim, an Account Manager at BigMarker, recommends yoga or other low-impact exercises: “Start your day with yoga, meditation or any form of workout before getting into work mode. This will provide you with the necessary energy to carry you through your day with a positive mindset.” 

    Because it’s not necessarily what you do each morning that matters, as long as you’re cultivating a self-aware, grounded perspective that’ll help you respond to workday stress less personally. And you can reach that headspace in a lot of different ways. 

  • Get informed and engaged. When you’re working 40 or even 60 hours per week, it’s shockingly easy to lose touch with the world outside your Slack channel. And when tunnel vision sets in, every mistake or slight feels magnified and world-ending, and makes a bad situation that much harder to cope with. 

    To broaden my perspective, I read my newspaper’s daily email for 10 minutes as I’m starting my workday. Feeling connected to the world outside work broadens my perspective, so writing one subpar social media post doesn’t make me spiral into “I suck at my job and the world is ending.” 

    (Note: This quick-hits digest provides all of the information necessary to understand the headlines, and nothing more, so I’d recommend that over, say, doom scrolling through Instagram, then doom-scrolling your work inbox.) 
  • Clean your feeds. If we’re the product of the five people we spend the most time with, most of us are the product of our five favorite social media accounts. So especially as social media has gotten more negative, I treat it like Marie Kondo: If I don’t personally know the person, or their content doesn’t leave me feeling actively upbeat or inspired, I unfollow. 

    I’m also really intentional about how I’m using social media: Am I really going to connect with my friends today? Or will I compare myself to the BFF that's getting married and the cousin that just got promoted? If I’ve been beating myself up at work all day, I know it’s the latter—and I know to just go outside instead. 
  • Seek out novelty and challenge in your everyday life. Even if your role has varied responsibilities, work still follows the same routine: Wake up, answer the same emails, meet with the same people, work on similar things, etc. Over months and years, the routine gets monotonous. 

    So if your personal life isn’t challenging or exciting you either, it’s easy to fall into a rut. You feel like you’re not working toward anything and if it goes on too long, you’re not sure why you wake up in the morning. 

    To prevent falling into a rut, I set one significant non-work goal for myself each year—qualifying for the Boston Marathon, writing a screenplay—and other smaller ones along the way.

    When you’re struggling to keep up at work, the addition of more “tasks” might seem overwhelming. But accomplishing quick wins in your personal life can give you a greater sense of achievement and autonomy, helping you approach those stressful work tasks with more resolve.  

Beneficial as self-care can be, it's not a silver bullet. There’s no substitute for one-on-one help from a mental health professional. So if you or someone you love is struggling with mental health, consult the resources below for guidance from a trusted mental health resource. 

US National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): 1-800-950-NAMI - nationwide network and search function for support and education; https://www.nami.org/Support-Education/NAMI-HelpLine/Top-HelpLine-Resources

US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or 988 - Languages: English, Spanish; https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ (Deaf & Hard of Hearing Options): 1-800-799-4889

US Samaritans: 877-870-HOPE (4673) - registered charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in distress or at risk of suicide throughout the United States; http://www.samaritansusa.org/

US SAMHSA National Helpline: - 1-800-662-HELP (4357) - free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders

US Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386 - an organization that provides a 24-hour phone hotline, as well as limited-hour webchat and text options, for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth within the US; text TREVOR to 1-202-304-1200 (available M-F from 3:00 pm to 10:00 pm ET)

US Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 - 24/7 hotline that provides phone, webchat, and text options available to military veterans and their families. It provides options for deaf and hard of hearing individuals

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