A chilly morning in November back in 2021 saw event professionals flock to Central Hall Westminster for Hire Space's fifth EventLAB, to enjoy a series of panels and workshops designed to boost event planners' skills.
After almost 2 years of cancelled events and disrupted plans, it was a welcome time of showing that the industry can make it through changes as a community. Fittingly, we had a popular session on dealing with constant change, hosted by Founder of Stress Matters, Laura Capell-Abra.
Laura provided some much-needed insights and tips on building resilience and knowing yourself through situations of change. You can watch the full session below or read on for the key takeaways from the session.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
WATCH THE DISCUSSION
TAKE TIME TO REFLECT ON CHANGES
If you’re someone who struggles with change, you’re certainly not alone, particularly in the events industry where we tend to cling to carefully-made plans. But if the past few years have shown us anything, it's that change can send those plans spiralling in the blink of an eye.
A key lesson that Laura shared in the session was to think about what your pandemic story has been over the past few years, and find the positives in it that you can take forward. Taking time to reflect on our resilience and growth is a useful way of coming to terms with changes that have rocked our careers and the industry over recent years.
DON'T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
The pandemic also gave us an insight into how people deal with immense change, a process that can be broken into 6 stages: shock; denial; frustration; depression; experimentation; and integration (or planning).
It's rarely helpful to compare your own journey to that of others. The word ‘should’ in particular is a dangerous trap to fall into, as there is no 'should' about individual reactions to change. In the industry we might all be at different stages in the process, and it’s important to acknowledge that we all deal with change at different speeds.
SEE CHANGE AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF
During the talk, Laura was keen to get attendees thinking about the positives that come from change, and asked for input from the audience on what they'd noticed about themselves over the pandemic. Answers included people realising they were more disciplined than they had expected, were learning to go easier on themselves, and in particular had come to realise how resilient they were. They had also learnt the tools to be able to cope with change, which helped put themselves in a more positive situation in the long run.
BELIEVE THAT YOU CAN GROW FROM THE CHANGE
How you deal with change is down to how you feel about facing it, as encapsulated by the quote "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right." If you’ve already decided you can’t change or adapt before change hits you, you won’t, whereas if you believe you can adapt then you'll make it happen.
LAURA'S TOP TIPS FOR DEALING WITH CHANGE
1. UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEM
Once you understand what it is about change that you don’t like, you can give yourself a framework of support and make it easier to deal with. For instance, if the idea of changing your goals is stressful, try setting your goals in 4 week sprints instead of quarterly, so that you're in a better position to amend them if the need arises.
2. REFRAME THE STORY
Consider what negative stories you tell yourself that make you scared of changes and hold you back from embracing new situations. With that recognition, you can turn around the way that you perceive change, and start viewing it as an opportunity, rather than an obstacle.
3. ASK YOURSELF WHAT BEYONCÉ WOULD DO
Sometimes when we’re feeling overwhelmed, we can get blinkered by stress and feel paralysed. In these situations, it can be useful to put yourself in someone else's shoes, as when we try to emulate someone else it can help us get out of a rut. Think about whether your role model (or friend) would view the situation as an obstacle or an opportunity, and how they would choose to deal with it.
4. BE AWARE OF YOUR SUPPORT AND TRIGGER NETWORKS
In times of change, it's vital that we have a support network who we can turn. And it's equally important that we know who in our networks buoy us and provide us with a sense of camaraderie (our "connection network"), and who tends to trigger negative emotions (our "trigger network"). Laura advised the audience that knowing who fits into which category will help make the decision of who to keep close at certain stages of the journey through change, and who to avoid certain conversations with.
5. GET HELP IF YOU NEED IT
There's no shame in seeking help for stress or mental health: everyone experiences peaks and troughs and there are people who can help if you need someone to speak to. If someone around you is struggling, you can find resources at Mental Health Matters, and Mind, to help give them the support they need.
However, in the events industry, we're often stretched for capacity, meaning we sometimes aren't able to give all the time we want to to colleagues in need. That's why Stress Matters is launching an outsource wellbeing manager in January to help support your team through difficult times. The Stress Matters team can also give you mental health and wellbeing training and support, so you're prepared to be a mental health first aider for others in your team.
A TRICK TO GROUND YOURSELF IF YOU FEEL OVERWHELMED
Laura shared a quick activity that can be used when you feel overwhelmed, that helps to ground you through your senses. This is a useful reset activity to have on hand for yourself or others who are experiencing stress or anxiety.
- See 5 things you hadn’t noticed before.
- Hear 4 different sounds you hadn’t picked up on before.
- Smell 3 different smells you hadn’t noticed before.
- Touch 2 different things that are a different texture.
- Take one really deep breath in and slowly exhale.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
LAURA CAPELL-ABRA, FOUNDER, STRESS MATTERS
Laura Capell-Abra is the founder of coaching and development firm No More Ifs Or Buts and workplace wellbeing organisation Stress Matters. She works with businesses to build more productive and profitable teams and supporting on making it easy to build mentally safer events. Previously Managing Director of top events agency, Sledge Ltd, and with over 20 years-experience in the events industry, Capell-Abra also runs personal coaching company, The BE:DO Academy, speaks on the subject of workplace wellbeing and is author of the For Dummies guide to Event Management.
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Jessamy channels her passion for sustainability and cultural events into shining a spotlight on innovation and inspiration in the events world, and heading up Hire Space's sustainability committee.