One thing that I find challenging as a highly sensitive person is the feeling of being overwhelmed when I’m attending conferences. At such events you’re constantly exposed to copious amounts of ever changing sights, sounds, and energies. And if you attend personal or professional growth seminars you are also vulnerable to the unexpected emotions that (hopefully) trigger a breakthrough in your life and business.
It’s a lot to handle, especially if you are the type of person that tends to help other people manage their energy. Suddenly you’re thrust into a situation where you feel everyone’s energy and it can be difficult to maintain your sense of peace and confidence when you are exposed to so much.
Recently I turned down some opportunities to attend conferences because I believed it would leave me depleted and exhausted. I knew that from experience because in the past I would try to put on my game face and be like everybody else so I didn’t seem as “less than”. But honestly, I just couldn’t keep up and I would crash. Hard.
However, conferences are great opportunities to learn and grow so I’ve adopted a few new practices to help me stay true to myself and still have a great time.
First let me just say that there are two things to be clear about before you say yes to an event like this. Make sure that you actually want to attend the conference and will benefit from what is being taught. If you’re only mildly interested say no. Period. Next spend some time getting to know the host. Observe how they interact with their tribe and determine whether or not you trust this person. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their philosophy or what you can gain from their event.
Five Ways to Manage Your Energy at a Conference
1. Know that you don’t have to attend EVERY session. Many conferences that I attend involve ten hour days for three straight days. That’s a lot for anybody, but if you’re highly sensitive, you’re especially susceptible to overextending yourself. Look at the schedule beforehand and identify a couple of times that you can take a break if you feel your energy dipping.
2. Create some space for yourself. Introverts need a little bit of alone time to process and recharge. On your breaks, take a walk outside. Sit in the sun or under a shade tree. Find a place with running water or relaxing music and just BE for a few moments.
3. Meet a new friend and have an intimate conversation. When you’re involved and connected with another person you are less likely to be thrown off balance from the energy in the room.
4. Move your body. Energy needs to move. If you’re picking up lots of energy from your surroundings you don’t want to hold that in your body. Let it out. Your event organizer may have a guided movement activity. Join in, rather than worry about how you might look. You’ll feel so much better afterward.
5. Bring a touch of the familiar with you. Keep a photo of your family with you or an object that reminds you of someone you love. Also, you could ask a person close to you to send a “check in” text during your breaks. This will help keep you grounded and remind you of WHY you are attending the conference.
Stepping out of your comfort zone is so important to your growth. You don’t need to miss out on these opportunities simply because they are not designed for the highly sensitive person. You are strong and perfectly capable of adapting so that your next conference is a positive and life changing experience.