Meeting Mentor Magazine

July 2024

7 Strategies for Avoiding Burnout and Reducing Stress

Stress can lead to burnout — especially in pressure-cooker environments such as meeting and event planning. These strategies can help.

 Event planning is recognized as one of the most stressful professions on the planet, but planners aren’t the only ones feeling the heat.

Stress is leading to burnout on both sides of the event planning ecosystem. Supply-chain relationships are one of the biggest stressors on the buyer side. This is only exacerbated by a big supplier-side turnover since the pandemic. With so many newbies entering the field, not only are those past relationships gone, but the new hires may not yet have a lot of knowledge about their own business, much less the buyer’s.

“Turnover due to stress isn’t helping any of us. We want people to stay in their jobs and deepen those relationships,” said Annette Gregg, CMM, CEO of the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), during a recent webinar held to recognize Mental Health Awareness Month. The event, hosted by Event Minds Matter, was held May 28 to bring everyday awareness to common mental health issues affecting event professionals, as well as some stress-busting strategies that can help.

Called Everyday Awareness, the online event featured mental health strategist, executive coach and management consultant Leslie Bennett, and Gregg, who shared how she faces some of the everyday stresses involved in the hectic world of meeting and event planning.

Here are a few of the strategies they discussed that can help:

• Develop understanding and empathy for what each side is going through. Gregg, who has been on both sides of the table, has empathy based on experience for both sides. It can help defuse some of the stress in negotiations if planners can understand the supplier’s stressors, such as deadline-driven sales goals, and suppliers can understand the planner’s stressors, such as a stakeholder that just won’t budge.

Maintain good communications with vendors and suppliers and build relationships. This means if you say you will get back to someone by a certain date, actually follow through on that. That helps to build trust,” said Bennett.

• Remember that stress management isn’t all on the individual. While you can do much to set your own boundaries, some things are going to be out of your control. Don’t be too hard on yourself when you hit roadblocks that require change outside of your sphere of influence. Organizational leaders need to take responsibility for their contributions to their employees’ stress levels, said Bennett. “There’s data that says that managers have more impact on an individual’s mental health than their relationship partner.”

• Be transparent. “On the buyer side, we can give suppliers transparency into our budgets and timelines,” said Gregg. Providing these fundamental assumptions, instead of leaving them guessing and wondering what’s going on, can help them understand where you’re coming from and take the stress down a notch.

• Take time for yourself. If you’re in the midst of a burnout cycle, take time to really think over the situation and determine your priorities. It may come down to your job or your health. Think it through and lean on your support system to talk it through, reflect your feelings back to you, and provide advice or information.

How to Recover from Setbacks and Failures

Resilience training can lead to a 70% reduction in incidences of depression among professionals, Bennett said. A big part of that resilience is being able to set, and keep, boundaries.

Gregg shared a time when she was blindsided by a layoff. “I felt bad. It felt so very unjust because I felt like I had been doing great work,” she said.

• Take some time to process the emotions — but don’t get stuck. Like other stressful situations, setbacks and failures can cause kneejerk reactions that only escalate the stress levels. “I had to take a few days and just sit with those feelings to understand what they truly were, because living in that kind of vitriol and victimhood is not a healthy place,” said Gregg. After a couple of weeks of mulling, she was ready to move forward.

• Give yourself some grace. It’s not easy going through an unexpected life change, so give yourself some grace. After a few days, Gregg said she was able to understand that there’s no right or wrong feeling in this type of situation, that it’s OK to feel whatever you are feeling. And remember that it’s about progress, not perfection, she added.

• Find ways to work it through with others who understand what you’re going through. For Gregg, this meant launching a women’s conference. “A lot of my friends at the time were going through divorces or coming back into the workplace after being home and raising their kids…we needed to circle the wagons and help each other out.” The women’s conferences, called Rise Up, explored how to work through self-limiting beliefs and enhance self-branding. “That was my way of doing something positive while also stopping my own spin.”

Added Bennett, “We can take our power back around it by identifying what our needs are and seeing if something else can be created out of it. [This ability is] one of the most brilliant things about human beings.”

How do you handle the daily stress of planning meetings and events — and those times when you get hit with a setback? Email Sue Pelletier at to share your top stress-busting strategies.


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