In a 2019 Deloitte study, 91% of respondents reported that high stress negatively affects the quality of their work. I instantly thought of the stress of exhibiting at trade shows. While it might be work we choose and are passionate about, it’s definitely fast-paced, intense pressure.
Exhibitors need to show up with the best face and the best attitude, and even then we might need to blow off a little steam or recharge during the event. So here are a few helpful ways to do just that.
BE PREPARED. Whatever it takes for you to feel ready for the next day, do it today. Maybe it’s being super-organized or rested or meeting with your team. Whatever it is, get your little trade show ducks in a row so you’ll be ready to go at show time.
GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP. According to the CDC, approximately 60 million Americans get insufficient sleep, which means your body is not receiving the critical recovery it requires. Calm your mind, cool your hotel room, turn off your screens, and get your best sleep before “go” time. If sleep is difficult, try breathing exercises or reading a book or doing a crossword or Sudoku puzzle (but not on your phone!)
EAT WELL. Eating badly stresses your system, and travel-for-workers often eat badly. Make the effort to eat balanced, regular meals and limit your caffeine and sugar intake so they don’t affect your energy and sleep. Don’t forgot to keep high-protein snacks in the booth.
CHOOSE COMFORT. Trade shows are too lengthy for you to be standing around in pinching shoes or scratchy collars or slightly-too-tight jackets. Invest in stylish, appropriate, comfortable clothes and shoes that won’t be distracting you all day and that you can relax in and focus on your visitors.
STAY HYDRATED. Despite the prevalence of water products and the constant reminder to “DRINK MORE WATER!”, the CDC reports that most people still lack hydration. Sip on water throughout the day – try to take a few big sips at the top of every hour – to stay regulated and energized. Coffee, teas, and sodas are fine for a morning boost, but they’ll drag you down throughout the day and they are not hydrating, so switch them out for the remainder of the day.
TRY SINGLE-TASKING. As multiple studies have confirmed, true multitasking—doing more than one task at the same time—is a myth. Instead, keep your focus on one task at a time, completing it fully before moving on to something else. This keeps you centered and preserves your mental energy.
ENGAGE. Believe it or not, engaging with staffers and attendees is more energizing and stress-relieving than zoning out or just going through the motions. It might seem counterintuitive because engaging takes work, but engaging reaps emotional and mental energy from other people. (Pssst! And it’s better for your business!)
UPLIFT YOUR SENSES. Smell, see, and hear something lovely in your environment to immediately relieve stress. Maybe that’s lavender oil diffusing or a candle that smells like freshly baked cookies. Maybe it’s a vase of flowers or a lovely picture or art piece. Maybe it’s calming music or nature sounds. It’s purely scientific that engaging one’s senses is a grounding exercise that lowers blood pressure and calms the nervous system. Stock your booth with some beauty.
TAKE A WALK. Make a few laps around the event floor. Walk up and down the hotel lobby. Step outside and get some fresh air. Walking increases blood flow to the brain and improves mood, so why not take a stroll if you need a little lift.
BREATHE. We do it automatically and constantly, so we kind of tend to take it for granted, but breathing is kryptonite for stress. Just a few minutes of deep breathing restores balance and slows the heart rate, sending all that refreshing oxygen to every cell in your body.
CREATE A MANTRA. “Today is a great day to have a great day.” “I will make a difference.” “I can do this!” Sometimes it’s just good to have something to repeat in your head – or out loud – so that critical thoughts don’t barge in. A mantra keeps you focused on what you want to focus on and keeps your mind from wandering to unwanted places. Plus, people who utilize mantras in their daily work life report lower stress levels.
DOODLING. In her TED Talk, Sunni Brown explains how doodling is a stress-relieving form of meditation and mindfulness, keeping us connected to the present. Take advantage of that time between booth visitors to doodle, and if anyone asks what you’re doing, tell them you’re taking care of your mental health!
COMPLIMENT SOMEONE. Studies show that giving someone a compliment not only boosts their happy hormones, it boosts yours. While you’re taking your walk or greeting visitors at your own booth, find a way to encourage and praise a few people. It really is contagious and it’s a wonderful habit to build as you seek to infuse more positivity into your life.
LAUGH. The famous SNL philosopher, Jack Handy, once said, “Dad thought that laughter was the best medicine. I guess that’s why so many of us died of tuberculosis.” Laughter isn’t a replacement for antibiotics, but it’s quite an injection for your mental and emotional health. We all know the truism that “it’s good to laugh.” So pull a funny YouTube video or Google some jokes and spread the laughter at your booth.
STRETCH. Roll your shoulders. Stretch your arms to the sky. Touch your toes. Move your head around. Do some squats or lunges. There are loads of benefits to stretching: reducing stress, improving posture, relieving muscle stiffness and tension, enhancing relaxation, promoting circulation.
ACT, NOT REACT. Sometimes, things just happen, and we have to deal with it. The number one reason people feel stress is because they feel out of control and that triggers their stress hormones. To avoid feeling stressed, remember that you are in control of your actions and responses, not everyone else’s and not every situation. You can only control what you can control; and you can only control you. Instead of reacting to your environment, practice acting in a way that’s acceptable to you.