Why prioritizing mental health should be at the top of your list

There’s no doubt about it; our work is stressful. We are under immense pressure to please our clients, maintain good relationships with our vendors and continue to foster collaboration with our colleagues. This balancing act leaves us overworked, overwhelmed and stressed out. It’s not just in our minds. According to a CareerCast study, the event planning industry is the fifth most stressful, and our industry has been on the “top 10 most stressful” list for the past 10 years. But it doesn’t need to be that way.

We all know how important it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. When we are healthy, we can reduce our stress and truly be present for ourselves, our families, our colleagues and clients, and our community. But maintaining wellness is easier said than done. Plus, all too often in our quest for a healthy lifestyle, we forget about our mental health. If our mental health fails, so does our physical health. This is why building and maintaining strong mental health should be our top priority.

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I spent two weeks in India during my sabbatical in 2021. My goal was to learn how to be much more intentional with the things that are important to me. This journey was transformative and helped me recognize just how much we deprioritize our mental health in the U.S. There are elements of happiness I learned that can be transferred to our daily lives. Some of these principles may seem basic, but they are essential.

Mental Health Checklist

purple check mark iconPhysical exercise: We should all strive for 30 minutes of exercise every day. Exercise can come in any form, from walking your dog to joining a spin class at the gym. Look for ways you can incorporate exercise into your day. This might mean intentionally finding a parking spot farther away from the door when you visit the grocery store. Or it could mean parking near the school and walking your kids to the door rather than waiting in the drop-off line.

purple check mark iconBalanced diet: We must fuel our bodies, which then fuels our minds. This includes healthy food choices and plenty of water. Treat yourself to a brightly colored water bottle to encourage healthy drinking habits. Or take time on Sunday night to meal plan or pre-cut/wash your fruit and veggies to encourage easy, healthy snacking.

purple check mark iconDaily sleep: Ensure you have a minimum of six to seven hours of sleep. Ideally, we should strive for eight hours of sleep. Use tools to help you wind down at night, including downtime functions on your phone or a sleep mask.

purple check mark iconDaily reflection: Just as we schedule oil changes to take care of our car’s health, we should also schedule time for ourselves to relax and reflect. Adding this time to our daily calendar not only makes it an intentional act, but it also holds us accountable to ourselves to keep the appointment with ourselves. This reflection can come in any form, like meditation or a moment of silence.

purple check mark iconPositive thinking: In India, great sadness comes from lack of knowledge. The brain works in interesting ways, and when we don’t have all of the information in a particular situation, then our brain fills it up with information so it can be complete. Our brain is trying to protect us. But the problem is that naturally, our brain wants to fill it with negative thoughts. That’s why we must challenge ourselves to overcome this instinctual negativity and think about things in a positive way.

purple check mark iconDetermining what’s important: What drives you? Is it your family, volunteer work? Whatever it is, make sure you are allocating time to focus on those important things. Life shouldn’t be all about work. We naturally assume that our life has chapters. We are born, we go to school, we have a career, we retire. Then, we can enjoy life! But we don’t know what tomorrow brings. That’s why it’s really important that we are living a life that focuses on the important things each and every day.

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Eliminate attachments: We shouldn’t be attached to anything in life. Free your mind from attachments and happiness will follow.


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Eliminate hatred: Try to give the people in your life a bit of grace and don’t hold grudges.


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Plan your next vacation: Always have your next vacation scheduled on your calendar. We need something to look forward to. We also need to take time away from work.

Our health is like a tree. A healthy tree has strong roots that run deep in the ground. The roots secure the tree and ensure that no matter what the tree must withstand—inclement weather, animals, the building of treehouses—the tree is safe. Our mental health represents the roots of our tree. We must make sure our mental health is strong to keep the rest of us strong, safe, and healthy.

As we confront 2023 with open arms, I challenge you to live a life of intention, spend time with the people and things that are important to you, and be purposeful with your mental health. A joyful, less stressful life will follow.

Rob Adams is president and owner of Bishop-McCann, an award-winning, full-service event management partner that helps innovative companies elevate their events and increase attendee engagement by connecting audiences with their brand in a passionate, strategic way. With more than 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur, Rob is helping his team live its mission “To Create JOY” through various wellness initiatives, including participation in the “Search Inside Yourself” training that leads to a mindfulness certification.

This article appears in the January 2023 issue. You can subscribe to the magazine here.