Have you planned many events since the pandemic? Be it a big celebration, a holiday or even catching up with an old group of friends. Or does it still seem like more effort than it’s worth these days? The mental energy, and physical when it comes to the do itself, it takes to organise an event might put you off even bothering, so read on to find how it might actually help you, and help you with future events - like your children’s birthday parties or summer holiday activities.
Planning events actually allows us to train and challenge our planning and strategy skills. Now, we are not suggesting that you start planning festivals or multinational sporting events, obviously. However, planning a small, manageable event, as simple as a birthday party or monthly dinner, can boost our executive function - that’s our ability to focus our attention, remember information and successfully juggle a few tasks at once. Which will help you to plan, organise, direct and complete tasks in all areas of life.
So, why does it feel so challenging?
What might make this feel harder at the moment, or at least maybe not as easy as it once seemed, is that during those lockdowns when we didn’t have any choice but to not plan anything, this executive functioning sort of fell asleep and we fell out of practice. But we’ve been able to do things again for a while now, so you might be thinking shouldn’t it feel easier?
Well, unfortunately that pandemic took quite a toll on our mental health as well as our physical, social and emotional health and so waking those functions up again might be as easy as getting a teenager out of bed before midday on the weekend. So if it feels harder than usual, like way more effort than before, and the event itself seems daunting, you’re not alone and that’s quite normal considering what we’ve been through.
A great place to start could be with planning a monthly meal with all your friends or your family. Once you find a time in the month that works for everyone you could assign the organisation to a different person each month. This will not only benefit the cognition and executive function of the whole group, but socialising with friends and family is also really beneficial to your mental health generally - plus it’s a great excuse to leave the kids at home (supervised of course), try that new restaurant in town, and even have a vino or two.
Practising planning makes us better
As you well know by now, here at Beingwell we like small and simple steps to help us feel a little bit better everyday. So we’re not going to encourage you to plan a Jubilee-sized celebration even if you are feeling inspired after the weekend, but if you want to try, crack on! What we are saying is, start small to get the ball rolling, because planning events helps us to plan and organise future events.
Planning events ourselves also allows us to take back some control in our lives, particularly helpful for those of us who feel like we’ve lost some control over our lives from everyone else doing the planning for us or not having the opportunity to for quite some time. So if you’re the friend or family member who ‘goes with the flow’ for ease, to often find you don’t get a say in where you go, what to do or even whether you’re joining in at all, planning something small yourself can be really beneficial.
You might plan a holiday yourself rather than through a travel agent or leaving it to your partner. You might organise the next monthly dinner or even what to cook for dinner this week. If we leave the planning of events down to other people, or even to electronic devices, over time our ability to plan and organise will decrease, having knock-on effects on our cognition more generally. So, plan something yourself soon, it’s exciting as well as good for your cognition, and will prevent us falling back into this period of finding it so difficult to plan anything at all!
As you can see, this habit can be fairly easy to implement, and over time you can stretch it by planning more complicated events. This will help your ability to plan, organise and direct in all areas of your day-to-day life, like work, school holidays, household care, and your social life - it might even finally be the year for the wedding you’ve postponed since 2020!
Before you go: planning events can get stressful - regardless of the pandemic or size. Make sure to check in with yourself before committing to planning an event, even if it’s fairly small, because we can’t always take the stress out of planning. Sometimes there’s already too many cooks, there might be too many things to organise by yourself or you might have a lot on your plate right now. So don’t force yourself to plan events, but keep in mind the benefits and start small when you can!