The next time you attend a seminar or corporate gathering, don’t be surprised if you notice an area set aside for yoga, a massage station, or a meditation workshop on the itinerary.
Incorporating mindfulness and wellness into events has become a major trend during the last couple of years. It has been influenced to some degree by the COVID-19 pandemic and heightened interest in staying healthy, along with increasing interest in self-care and maintaining a reasonable work-life balance.
Demand for events that foster healthy bodies and healthy minds has grown so much that it essentially has changed the way planners do their jobs, according to the 2021 Global Wellness Trends Report, released in connection with the Global Wellness Summit.
“The pandemic has forced planners to reinvent their gatherings in a way that puts health at the center of virtually every decision — and that is likely to continue,” Alex Palmer wrote for Northstar Meetings Group.
So, how are event planners accommodating the world’s growing appetite for events that support attendees’ overall wellbeing? Their solutions run the gamut, from scheduling more breaks to offering healthy food options.
Right Here, Right Now
Mindfulness is a commonly used word these days, but what exactly does it mean? According to a website devoted to this topic, mindful.org, it refers to being fully in the moment. It’s the opposite of being on auto-pilot. Mindfulness is connected to wellness, the site explains, because it helps us keep our thoughts from going into dark places.
“We so often veer from the matter at hand,” mindful.org says. Our mind takes flight, we lose touch with our body, and pretty soon we’re engrossed in obsessive thoughts about something that just happened or fretting about the future. And that makes us anxious.”
For event planners, promoting mindfulness makes sense on a practical level, too. They want attendees to fully take in what they’re hearing and seeing, to be active participants, and to notice all of the details and special touches they have woven into the day.
One of the simplest ways to promote mindfulness at an event is simply to give attendees some space. Planners are doing that by working breaks into the schedule, giving attendees time for themselves so they can reflect, take care of a task that’s weighing on their mind, or even grab a quick nap.
But providing time only is part of the equation: Planners also are taking steps to ensure attendees have access to a comfortable environment that promotes rest and reflection. Prevue Meetings + Incentives recently wrote about the “re-charging stations” they work into events. Not only can attendees recharge their phones, but they also can restore their minds and bodies in these areas. Other planners are creating “unplugged” or “screen-free” zones where people can get a break from distractions and the sense of being constantly on call.
Increasing numbers of planners are arranging yoga or meditation workshops for their events, as well.
And the wellness-related activities aren’t stopping there. Events have been including kickboxing and spinning courses, boot camps, and even 5K runs.
The key to successful fitness activities is to offer choices: While some attendees embrace demanding physical challenges, others may prefer stretches or group walks. An added benefit of many of these activities is they get people outside. And that, in turn, can help boost attendees’ moods.
Chair massages are popular options at events as well and can be good for the body and the mind. Not only do they help ease stress and anxiety, but they can also support good circulation and strengthen the immune system.
The growing focus on wellness is impacting event menus and snacks, too. Instead of tempting attendees by laying out displays of donuts, pastries, candy, and chips, organizers are offering fresh, healthy choices including seasonal fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and lighter (or smaller) dessert options. Examples include yogurt, grilled chicken or veggie skewers, wraps, Portobello mushroom burgers, brown rice, salads, fresh fruits, and small servings (or shots) of ice cream or sorbet.
Ultimately, as we return to in-person events, planners will be challenged to find even more creative ways to deliver experiences, information, and special memories — and to do it in a way that’s good for the people who attend.
About the Author:
Roger Igo is the founder and CEO of special events venue, The Bell Tower on 34th, along with Excellent Events, and Venues in Houston. He is the author of “Keep On Going, The History of The Bell Tower on 34th,” a former radio host, a graduate of CEO Space International, and an alumnus of The Disney Institute.