With RWA National’s next week, there are plenty of questions rumbling around in our heads. Will I say the wrong thing? Is my pitch effective? Did I bring the right clothes? And on the list goes. All this self-questioning brings stress. Then there’s the stress that comes at the conference itself. Here are a few stress relief methods.
Identifying your stress points is personal. I worry about saying something stupid. Trust me, this is a big concern. I do it all the time. If life would allow me take ten minutes to analyze what the other person just said, then call someone and bounce my response off them before I open my mouth, I’d be okay. Unfortunately, that tends to draw out conversation to the point where others lose interest and wander off. Pinpoint what causes you stress—limit it to conferences. Families don’t count here.
Since we’re writers, I’ve concentrated my stress relievers on the five senses plus two—sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, movement and imagination.
Moderate stress—ranges from anxiety to irritation to feelings of frustration.
Sight. Bring the outdoors in with a bouquet of flowers in your room. Sound. Listen to uplifting music or hum your favorite tune. Smell. Take a deep breath of those flowers you bought. Touch. Wrap yourself in a warm blanket. Taste. Chew a piece of sugarless gum (it won’t add any convention pounds so you’ll still be able to get into your dress Friday night.) Movement. Do something physical like take a walk or treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure. Imagination. With the music on and the flowers within sniffing distance, close your eyes, take a deep cleansing breath, and mentally to go a place that feels peaceful and rejuvenating. Picture yourself succeeding at the situation causing you anxiety.
In public. Try taking a few deep breaths or find a quiet place and pop in that sugarless gum. It won’t take long and you’ll feel better just getting out of the chaos.
High stress— High stress is when you feel as if something is hanging over you, your concentration is poor, or decision-making becomes difficult.
Sight. Bring along a cherished photo, one that carries happy memories with it. Sound. Turn on one of those wave machines or put in a CD of nature sounds and close your eyes. If that doesn’t work, sing your favorite song—that is unless you sing like I do. My singing actually causes me and anyone within hearing range more stress. Yes, it really is that bad. Smell. Open a bottle of your favorite perfume and wave it under your nose. Lavender is very calming and it comes in spray bottles. Sprits it on your pillow before you go to sleep. Touch. If you didn’t bring your cat, try a nice hot bath with some perfume or bath salts in the water. No time for a bath? Give yourself a hand, neck or foot massage. Taste. Two words—dark chocolate. If you’re more health conscious try a perfectly ripe piece of fruit, some crunchy celery, carrots or trail mix. Movement. Go to the workout room and exercise until you sweat. Or dance around the room—you may combine this with singing. If you’re in a pinch, roll your head in circles or stretch your neck. Imagination. With the nature CD on and your favorite scent nearby drift off to a green field filled with flowers, birds and no bugs. Or picture yourself wrapped in warmth sitting in a safe place.
In public: Find a quiet spot–even if it’s a stall in the bathroom—take along some of the fragrance you find calming. Wave the scent under your nose and imagine a calm safe place. This would be a great time for a couple of dark chocolate bars.
Can’t sleep? Apply your favorite scent to your pillow and crawl into bed. Reading helps stimulates the sleep center in your brain. Turn out the light and try this simple exercise. Lay on your back and concentrate on relaxing. Begin with your eyes, moving to your jaw, and so on until you get to your toes. I’m usually asleep before I get that far.
Take time to decompress with these simple measures and you’ll have a more relaxed and pleasant conference. When you’re calm your mind is more clear and you’re able to deal with conference stresses more easily. Happy conferencing.