Conferences provide wonderful opportunities for networking, continuing education and new experiences. They can also be overwhelming and stressful, with long travel schedules, early-morning start times, back-to-back appointments, educational sessions and social events that last well into the evenings.  Annual industry events such as MPI’s World Education Congress (WEC), Destinations International’s Annual Convention and IMEX America are certainly no exception.  We checked in with mindfulness speaker, trainer and author Lee Papa for her insights on self-care before, during and after a conference.

Papa is the creator of the Mindfulness Lounge™ for meetings and events, a place where attendees can take advantage of a full schedule of meditations, as well as sit, relax and recharge. Her Mindfulness Lounge™ has been a fixture at IMEX America since 2015 and will be featured for the first time at MPI WEC 2019 in Toronto June 15-18.  Papa believes practicing self-care with mindful awareness is the key to a successful and rewarding conference experience. Following are her top self-care tips for conferences to get the most out of an event and maintain your well-being—and sanity—in the process.

Lee Papa’s 9 Personal Wellness Tips for Conferences

Before the Conference

1. Meditate with intention: Visualize the event; not only a successful outcome but the beautiful tapestry of it. Imagine the feeling of reconnecting with industry friends, meeting new people and having new experiences. Be open to the possibilities that the conference can bring.

2. Pack with elevated energy: I do this with music that brings positive emotions for me. Choose something that lifts you up. For me, it’s old R&B and ’70s music. I literally dance and sing while I’m packing and enjoy the process. We can just as easily look at packing as a chore, but we need to be mindful of reprogramming our internal language and giving ourselves permission to enjoy. This infuses the whole process with positivity rather than drudgery.Island exhibit

3. Pack a well-being pouch: This will be different for everyone. Set the intention to stick to your regular well-being plan while on the road, and pack what you need to follow through.

For me, it’s all about my nutrition and sleeping well.  I pack the supplements I regularly take as well as things like healthy to-go pouches of almond butter and other super foods that I know are always going to support me.

During the Conference

4. Meditate daily with energy-clearing purpose: You will be meeting so many people and picking up on their energy, which may or may not be in alignment with yours. You want to be conscious of your own energy and clearing that on an ongoing basis.  It’s important to keep your energy field as clear and open as possible.

5. Take frequent breaks: It’s important to be in mindful awareness of what you need to maintain your optimal health and well-being to get the most out of the conference.

Take necessary breaks and be gentle to yourself by being non-judgmental about taking that downtime. Slowing down is part of self-care.  Part of that is not feeling like you must schedule as many meetings or network with as many people as possible. Be mindful of the quality of the connections you make, not the quantity.

6. Change your internal language: Our internal dialogue often tells us that travel is stressful or work is a drudgery. Change that “program” in your brain so you are the driver and give yourself permission to enjoy the experience. Instead, say, “I get to go on this trip,” and set the intention to prioritize, maintain your well-being and make it a rewarding experience. My priorities are self-love, self-care and self-mastery, which is the roadmap to living mindfully.

After the Conference

7. Meditate with gratitude: Because you honored yourself by setting intentions and making optimal choices before and during the conference, reinforce that by being grateful that you were your best self. Gratitude is fertilizer for your dreams.

The more grateful you are, the more you’ll have to be grateful for. Always wrap up the experience in gratitude by honoring yourself for sticking to your well-being plan and making positive choices for your body, mind and spirit.

8. Continue your self-care: Just as you may have scheduled your hair appointment before the event, schedule your massage or other self-care after the event. It’s important to listen to your body—to get comfortable with quieting yourself to listen to what your body is telling you.

9. Celebrate your successes: You always want to uplift your energy and not fall back into the old pattern of, “I didn’t get enough sleep, I’m tired.” Celebrate the positive outcomes—the people you met, the meaningful relationships you cultivated, the things you learned.

Celebrate the experience for not only learning and connecting with people at the event but also having an awareness of integrating mindfulness into the equation.