Thursday, June 20, 2024

Focus on Health

Presenters at the Meetings Michigan/Destination Michigan Holland Healthy Planners Experience emphasize the importance of health and wellness

By Kathy Gibbons

A chair massage at the Meetings Michigan/Destination Michigan Holland Healthy Planners Experience || Courtesy of David R. Randell Photographics

Overwhelmed, tired, and stressed? Mark Ostach says that can give you tunnel vision: When you can only see what’s right in front of you, you might miss the possibilities all around you.

That was one of his messages at a Meetings Michigan/Destination Michigan Holland Healthy Planners Experience held last year. Ostach was among a series of presenters who together provided a primer on wellness and why it should be a focus for planners and the events they create.

“Right now, health and wellness are really top of mind because of coming out of COVID-19, how stressed meeting planners and our industry partners have all been,” says Kim Corcoran, Meetings Michigan/Destination Michigan executive director. “They’re stretched thin, trying to do hybrid events, and many new events have been coming onboard. The sales managers can’t keep up. The meeting planners can’t keep up, and a lot of people are going through the same things.”

To start, she says, it’s important to integrate health and wellness into programming—everything from pre-event preparation to meal planning and setting aside spaces where people can relax and regroup. “We also talked about nourishing your mind—having inspiring keynotes that address mental health and resilience and having some creative workshops unlocking innovation through mental well-being,” she adds.

Ostach’s “Planting New Seeds for Future Growth” session concentrated on “how to turn over the soil in your heart and mind to weed out bad habits and negative thinking.” His answers to getting caught up in a cycle of being hopelessly overwhelmed include: setting aside 20 minutes in the morning or evening to “fill yourself up with things that are good and praiseworthy”; practicing “turn-down” techniques to lower the volume in your head—taking a quick walk, stretching, anything to move your body; and meditating.

Kristen Taylor, a longtime meeting planner who is certified in reflexology and operates Energy & Grace in Lansing, was another presenter. Her message was to be mindful of your body’s needs. “By incorporating wellness into events, it’s giving space for other people to kind of take a beat and just be,” she says. “It’s bringing awareness among meeting planners to take best care of themselves and also introduce the concept to attendees.”