This week we hear from Dani Feigenberg, an active member of SITE’s Chicago Chapter. She gives us her take aways from the SITE Week Ideation session on Your Health is Your Wealth. This session was hosted by Dr. Jonathan Spero of InHouse Physicians; and sponsored by Kevin Regan, Global Director, Charter and Incentives at Azamara Club Cruises.

Meet our SITE Week Ideation Session Scribe:

Dani Feigenberg was born and raised in Chicago and has spent the last 10 years working in the hospitality industry. Her love of hospitality began at her Godfather’s restaurant and led her to roles at The Dana Hotel, Acme Hotel, Trump Hotel Chicago & finally into the world of Destination Management at CTC DMC. After joining SITE in 2019, Dani has been an active member in the Site Chicago chapter. She is currently Co-Chair of the SITE Young Leaders committee developing the 2020 SITE Young Leaders Conference. At this time Dani is currently pursuing a new and inspiring position and has spent the last few months enjoying hobbies like reading, writing and swimming out in Lake Michigan.

Introduction to ‘Health is Your Wealth’

The air was electric as the final day of SITE Week 2020 kicked off. News of Covid-19’s ever evolving statistics continued to surge and worries like job security and fiscal recovery still weighed on the masses. Though 2020 has been an outrageous year to say the least, there have most certainly been beneficial developments. One of these is the awareness of mental health and wellbeing, and how the maintenance of such has become a standard.

At the start of 2020 people finally seemed to be more open and receptive to speaking candidly about their mental health. Corporate Incentives and clients all across the MICE Industry were looking not just to celebrate their teams, but to provide added benefits to improve their mental health and well being.

To help address some of the community’s questions and worries, SITE brought in Dr. Jonathan Spero – President, Founder and CEO of Inhouse Physicians. For over 30 years, InHouse Physicians has been regularly supporting the health and well being of attendees at some of the highest-profile corporate sales, incentive and executive programs around the world.

A Meditative Start

Dr. Spero began his session with a warm introduction followed by a three-minute guided meditation session. You might be getting a mental image of virtual attendees sitting cross legged and humming low “omm’s” to the camera, but instead this was a calm and centered exercise focused primarily on breathing and the calming of thoughts. As Dr. Spero guided the meditation session, I felt myself falling into a slower and more focused rhythm. The worries that had bothered me before sitting down at my laptop seemed to have just floated out the window. Dr. Spero then brought the meditation session to a close and began his presentation.

Be in the Present

As Planners, Travelers and Organizers, “70% of our time experiencing reality is by worrying about the future or worrying about the past”. How much time do you think you spend worrying about things you can neither change nor predict? If you said a lot, then chances are meditation is a tool you will love. According to studies observed by Dr. Spero, Meditation not only changes your mood, but can alter your brain chemistry in just 10-15 minutes. For his preferred time of day, Dr. Spero says morning is the best time to sit down and have a few moments of quiet. These don’t have to be long sessions of stretches or yoga, just a few minutes of quiet breathing can do the trick. 

Your Health is Your Wealth - tranquil beach setting
Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

What’s “Flowstate”?

In a perfect world, time spent worrying or fretting over the little things wouldn’t be a problem. We would live in a constant positive ‘flowstate’ – our optimal performance. This is what Dr. Spero referred to as, ‘being in the zone’. During a study completed in 1990 to explain flow or flowstate, Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi observed that there were 5 separate themes that presented themselves to subjects when at the pinnacle of their flow.

  1. Selflessness
  2. Detaching from your ego
  3. Timelessness (to explain how time has seemingly stopped)
  4. Effortlessness
  5. Richness of experiences and walking or meditation

Alongside these themes, there are also 5 neurotransmitters that spike when in flow.

  1. Serotonin
  2. Endorphins
  3. Ananomite
  4. Dopamine
  5. Oxytocin.

But how can we achieve the flow if we are constantly stressing ourselves out? At any given conference on any given day, whether virtual or in person, people will start to lose focus. They will lose attention and begin to feel the pressures of everyday life build up.

To help keep attendees motivated during conferences, Dr. Spero recommends these 4 enhancements to ensure your attendees stay motivated and grounded.

1. Mindful Communications

This can be anything from text messages, videos onsite or on digital event platforms, to mindfulness and activity based exercises, to breathing and gratitude exercises. Offering places like Mindfulness Lounges (which InHouse Physicians sponsored at the Vancouver Summit this past winter), are just a few ways you can engage with your guests. People are a lot more likely to engage when they feel comfortable and inspired.

2. Natural Settings

Natural settings can be offered through virtual and digital settings, with backdrops and screens, live plants or video stations set up around the conference. Having a space where guests feel like they’re getting outside not only reduces stress but can raise endorphins as well. If possible, take attendees out for a quick walk or activity.

3. Brain Food

This one might seem self-explanatory, but offering the right options during your event is crucial to ensure your guests aren’t left crashing or craving. Offering brain foods at functions will improve your guests attention, mood and performance. Be sure to have plenty of fruit, veggies and snacks high in omegas 3 & 6. Don’t be afraid to step outside the box, look for options like dark chocolate and turmeric to keep guests energized and invigorated. Keep dietary choices in consideration for virtual sessions by sharing recipes or ingredients to help attendees maintain their wellbeing from home.

4. Promote the Unexpected

To my knowledge, Dr. Spero has not yet been a guest on Oprah. But if there’s one thing he knows, it’s that surprises create engagement. Surprises don’t necessarily mean a free car for everyone in the audience, but a single unexpected event can send dopamine rushing through the brain, bringing attendees back to life. Some simple surprises could be unannounced guest speakers, secret final night entertainment, or even a change in seating or decor.

Your Health is Your Wealth - view over desert sand dunes
Photo by Patrick Schneider on Unsplash

All of these things are tried and true ways to help maintain our mental and physical health during conferences, but they are also great tips to keep in mind for daily practice. 

Special thanks to Dr. Jonathan Spero for sharing his incredibly helpful and knowledgeable ways with us; to Kevin Regan for hosting and to Azamara Cruise Lines for sponsoring Dr. Spero’s session, Personal Wellness – Maintaining our Mental and Physical Health in challenging times.

Written by Dani Feigenberg

SITE Week Ideation Session Series:

SITE Week saw SITE Global hosting 46 Ideation Sessions over the course of 2 days, 2 times zones, and catering to over 1500 registrations. The idea was simple – facilitated brain-storming to help us all prepare for the road ahead, collaborating through the sharing of thoughts, insights and perspectives from across the globe, while collaborating and celebrating the togetherness of the larger SITE community. A scribe attended each session, with the role of articulating of his/her thoughts into an informative article which would be a summation of their takeaways from the session.