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Why do event people find self-care so hard to prioritise?

Before the festive break I was determined to really take time out at Christmas and New Year and rest and recharge. I put plans in place to ensure that there was space for me to catch up on sleep and also have some family fun to recharge. As I was doing it, I wondered why it felt so alien to make sure that I used the break not just to catch up but to positively fuel myself with energy. I realised that, for me, this comes from my background in event management and the ‘training’ that I have had over the years. I put ‘training’ in inverted commas as it certainly was not formal training but rather a cultural landscape. Let me explain my thinking.

I believe that event management is a service-based industry. We are there to serve our clients and ensure that their events run smoothly and efficiently, offer a return on their investment and exceed their delegate expectations. This service has, over my career, meant putting the requirements of the event or client over and above my own requirements. I am sure we have all at some stage, not eaten for hours, not been able to nip to the facilities and of course most of the time we operate on less than ideal sleep cycles when onsite. Over time (I have been doing this for nearly 30 years now) could this constant prioritisation requirement mean that, subconsciously, we are training ourselves to put our health at the bottom of the list?

We are not alone, there are hundreds of others who put their own wellbeing at the bottom of the list and not just at work – parents and grandparents can be equally guilty of this. I am aware that there is a wave of recognition of this and practices in many industries are changing to ensure that staff wellbeing is more core to the way a business is set up and this should be encouraged as much as possible. For us we always now ensure that food and drink is made available regularly and, on larger, projects we have a Crew Mum whose sole purpose is to make sure that everyone takes breaks, gets rest and looks after themselves in the best possible way. Despite these efforts though the work that we (and many others) do is, by its nature, demanding and requires a level of service that inevitably leads to putting client and event before our own needs.

So what can we do? Become so self-aware that we constantly prioritise ourselves over others? That surely will have consequences, not least the onset of a very selfish society. So perhaps the answer is as simple as recognising our behaviour and tendency to put ourselves so low down and endeavour to carve out moments, hours or even a few days to right the balance. That way we can be sure to give ourselves the break and refuel we need while not compromising on the level of service we can then offer at peak project times. Christmas and New Year over and I can genuinely say that I have rested and refuelled my energy banks. Now to make sure I take time to carve out some space as we go through this year.

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