Conferences can be overwhelming especially if you have anxiety. If you’re anything like me, then you get anxious sitting there with a few hundred people worrying about having a panic attack in front of everyone.
This past week I went to a marketing conference in Orlando where I was surrounded by hundreds of IT peeps. At times, I was struggling to sit in my chair for hours on end holding in an anxiety attack.
Here’s what I learned to tackle my anxiety at these type of events:
1. Bring your medicine.
Sometimes your anxiety will get the best of you at these type of events no matter how many behavioral techniques you try.
If you cannot handle it, you may need to take your medicine in advance so you can relax and enjoy the conference.
Note: I am not a doctor. Speak with your physician, psychiatrist or counselor about your medications.
2. Don’t be afraid to get up, stretch your legs and get some air.
Sitting for hours on end underneath those horrid lights can cause your anxiety to rise. When this starts to happen, excuse yourself from your seat and step out for a 15-minute break.
3. Grab something to eat or drink. At conferences, they typically have snacks and drinks readily available.
During all of the hoopla, you may not be getting enough to drink or eat.
Try to always keep a drink with you. Sometimes all you need is a little sip of water to make you feel better.
4. Get your exercise in.
You’re probably sitting down more than you normally do on an average work day. Make sure to work out before or after the event. Mornings are probably better as people will want to grab dinner and drinks at night.
Most conferences are held at the best hotels in the cities. Those type of hotels always have a killer on-site gym.
5. Be prepared.
If you’ve read any of my blogs, then you know I’m all about making a plan. In order to feel confident, you’ll want to make sure you have everything you need:
The right conference wear. Some conferences are mor casual while others require suits. No matter the conference, you’ll want to wear comfortable shoes. I made the mistake of wearing new heeled shoes and wound up with a huge red blister on my ankle.
Your technology. Whether it’s a laptop or tablet, you’ll want to have it with you. Make sure to pack a notepad and pen as well. Don’t forget your cell phone charger.
Your business cards. Most conferences have vendors with giveaways that require a business card.
6. Have fun!
Conferences are meant to be both educational and fun! I know when you’re having anxiety attacks it can be extremely difficult. But, you’ve got to get out of your conference zone. Meet people who don’t care that you have anxiety and can help you through it. If you get overwhelmed, just take a step back.