Ah, conferences. From the moment you step into your friendly neighborhood Convention Center, you are immersed in a world of business cards, display tables and relationship building. There are hands to shake, connections to be made, good will to build, and oh so much to learn. To the savvy attendee, conferences are a time of great possibility. But even the biggest power networker can leave a good conference feeling drained. And we’re not even going to mention the number all of that power walking in heels can do on your feet.
Make the best of what is often an intense, if stimulating and important, experience. It’s crucial to think hard about wellness and to get a little strategic about caring for yourself. Here’s how.
Conference Wellness: How to Get It Right
1. Stay Hydrated
In the crazy whirl of panels and meetings and dinner dates, it’s easy to lose track of your hydration needs. All the more so when those thermoses of coffee are much conspicuously placed than the water carafes. But don’t let the foul caffeine temptress lead you into the exhausted, headachey depths of dehydration. Carry your own water bottle so that you always have a good supply on hand.
2. Be Footwear Savvy
You’ll be booking across several blocks between multiple venues or traversing the expanse of a massive convention center. It’s best to bring along the most comfortable pair of shoes possible. If your business shoes don’t fit this description, then make sure to supplement them with things like padded insoles. And definitely bring along a few blister pads.
3. Avoid All You Can Eat Buffets
We can hear you now: “But the buffets were my only motivation for sitting through that boring lecture!” We feel you — we really do. But all of that heavy food just won’t feel worth it when you’re nodding off in the next one. You also want to be on top of your game when you’re meeting and attempting to impress new people. Feeling like you’ve just eaten an elephant isn’t necessarily going to keep your mind on track! At the least, save the big heavy meals for dinner, and it keep nice and light during the day.
4. Hack the Conference Room
No matter how new and fancy a convention center may be, conference centers never seem to get anymore comfortable or convenient. The chairs are still straight backed and cheap, the desks are stuck at a height that’s right for neither short nor tall people. And outlets for your many digital devices are located at minimum the length of a tractor trailer truck away. That’s why it’s important to come prepared with ergonomic travel accessories.
An ergonomic keyboard, laptop and tablet stand, and travel mouse will come in handy! They help you take comprehensive notes throughout your sessions without putting strain on your wrists and joints. Such accessories will also guide you into sitting up straight. This puts less strain on your upper body. You also might want to bring along extra clothes you can set on to pad out those tough chairs. And if the session is overcrowded, take that as your excuse to stand in the back, so you can take a break from the endless sitting.
5. Adapt Your Hotel Room
Once you return to your hotel room to get a little work done. Hack that workspace as well by stacking books or even an ottoman on the desk to turn it into a standing desk. And don’t forget that your uncomfortable, unfamiliar bed is ripe for hacking, too. In fact, the best thing you can do is to ask the housekeeping for three to five extra pillows. Then place them around you in bed so that your entire body is supported. Essentially, ergonomists feel you should turn your bed into a cocoon. By sleeping almost in a fetal position but with everything from your upper back to your legs fully supported. This is a good idea regardless of where you are, but it’s an even better idea in your uncomfortable hotel room bed! Where you could use any extra support you can go!
6. Say No and Treat Yourself
Conferences are all about meeting new people and reconnecting with older contacts. Keep those relationships long lasting and solid! But that can easily lead to overwhelm, especially if you are more introverted. And you’re just not going to build solid relationships if you show up to meetings with a “Why am I here?” attitude. As such, it’s best to limit the amount of meetings you attend. Make the most of the ones you do attend. That doesn’t mean shutting down relationships; it just means prioritizing the most important ones. You can always offer to connect with others over phone or email later on.
On that same note, why not treat yourself to a nice massage while you’re there? Doing so mid-conference will power you up for the rest of the conference. And an end of conference massage will be a much needed reward for knocking it out of the park.
7. Work It Out
Just like at home, keeping a regular workout schedule will get the blood pumping to your brain and keep you nice and shark for the day to come. Or, if you’re more of an afternoon workout person, a good workout can help you get out all of that stress and energy from the past day. No matter how busy you are, take time to hit the hotel gym, or at least to take a good walk around the conference grounds or your destination city. And of course, don’t forget to stretch between sessions to challenge your muscles in new ways and get that blood flowing again.
8. Find a Buddy
Last but not least, it can often help to find a good conference buddy. This can help stop the social overwhelm when you’re looking for a place to sit at meals, and it can also be great just for processing everything you’re seeing.
Conferences are essential for growing brands and careers, but they’re not exactly set up with wellness in mind. With these tips, you’ll make the most of your conference experience and have a bit of fun, too!