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The Side-Effects of Frequent Business Travel: How to Cope with Anxiety and Stress

The Side-Effects of Frequent Business Travel: How to Cope with Anxiety and Stress

Traveling the world, even if it’s for work, is something that many people dream of.

The idea of holding a frequent flyer membership and covering large distances every month seems appealing, especially to those who are stuck with tedious administrative work at the office. Throw in breathtaking destinations, 5-star hotels, business class seats, and all the other luxuries that are usually a part of the business travel package, and it’s clear how this glamourous narrative about all the perks of being a part of the mobile workforce came into being.

However, even though this kind of lifestyle seems to be attractive and alluring, the truth is that there’s a dark side of business travel that takes its toll on those who are always on the move.

The Downsides of Being a Road Warrior

Recently, burnout is recognized as an actual medical condition that needs treatment, but back in the day, when it wasn’t possible to diagnose it, employees had to suffer and endure this syndrome in silence.

Similarly, those who travel for work encounter numerous different challenges and obstacles that lead to work-related stress and anxiety, believing that it all comes with the territory, while management mostly ignores the potential consequences of their employees spending so much time on the road. This sweep-it-under-the-carpet approach can be highly detrimental both to corporate travelers’ health and their companies.

Here are some common stressors and issues that turn this otherwise pleasant activity into a nightmare:

  • Geographical and cultural disorientation. People who frequently travel to different parts of the world and hop between time zones can find themselves confused. It’s difficult to operate in unfamiliar environments and adjust to different cultural contexts while trying to meet tight deadlines and stick to inflexible schedules. The lack of small, everyday routines induces additional stress and prevents mobile workers from relaxing.
  • Health problems. It takes up to 11 days for the body to return to normal after a Transmeridian flight. No wonder that chronic jet lag leads to memory impairment, faster aging, and weakening of the immune system. Besides, radiation exposure is significantly higher at high altitudes, which means that frequent fliers are at risk of having their DNA and tissues damaged, all of which have been linked to certain types of cancer and reproductive problems.
  • Unforeseen events. Delayed flights and lost luggage are among the most common reasons for stress and anxiety, and what’s even worse, they can’t be controlled or taken into account.
  • Loneliness and alienation. Being on your own in a foreign city is no fun, and if it happens very often, it can lead to depression. Furthermore, frequent business travelers may often find their marriages and friendships suffer a great deal because of this hectic routine.

How to Overcome These Challenges and Enjoy Your Lifestyle

So, we’ve established that being on the road all the time is not exactly as fancy as people with office jobs think it is. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t eliminate some of the risks and drawbacks and turn your business travel into a proper adventure.

Prepare Well

It’s important to identify your greatest source of travel anxiety. Only then will you be able to address these issues and find the coping mechanisms that work for you. Make a list of the things that make you upset and stressed and write down how you feel in such situations.

For example, corporate travelers are usually nervous about potentially forgetting important documents, files, or presentation equipment. Make a checklist well in advance and make sure to pack everything according to it. Given that internet access is of vital importance when you travel for work, check where your destinations stand in terms of Wi-Fi connection.

Protect Yourself

While it’s true that lots of things can go wrong when you’re in a foreign country, there’s no need to panic in advance. Instead of that, take different measures of precaution to ensure that you will travel safely.

A lost or stolen passport is among the worst-case scenarios when you’re traveling. The same goes for being left without money and other documents. In order to prevent this highly stressful situation, think about investing in a reliable anti-theft travel belt that will keep your valuables safe wherever you go.

Likewise, don’t forget to purchase travel insurance, as it’s important to be protected in case of illness or injury.

Pack Smart

Thousands of suitcases are lost or damaged every year, which is why frequent fliers have a good reason to worry about being left without their valuable possessions in a foreign city. One way out of this is packing smart.

If you learn to pack efficiently, you’ll be able to travel only with your carry-on luggage and be sure that your clothes, toiletries, and other important things will be with you when you land. When it comes to your wardrobe, keep it simple and interchangeable so that your everyday shirt matches well with your suit. Check the weather and plan your attire accordingly.

Stick to Your Diet and Exercise Plan

Many people find it difficult to follow their workout and dietary habits when they’re traveling, and that’s a big mistake. Sitting for long hours at airports and during flights can lead to stiff and sore muscles. You don’t have to do pushups or jumping jacks, but you can simply stand up during layovers, stretch your legs, and walk around the airport. Once you reach your hotel, you can go back to your regular exercise regimen and take advantage of the gym or a swimming pool.

When it comes to food, pack some healthy snacks and always have a bottle of water with you. Finally, make sure to sleep enough. As different time zones are a nuisance, it’s a good idea to use melatonin which is known to decrease the effects of jet lag and improve sleep quality.

Know Your Itinerary

It’s important to check the location of your hotel before you land and pick the nearest airport if there are several options to choose from. Also, check how you’ll get to the city once you land – is there an airport shuttle or will you rent a car or call a cab? These decisions will help you reduce stress and anxiety, as you will be able to plan beforehand.

Business travel can take a toll on your wellbeing, but with a bit of effort on your part, it certainly doesn’t have to be that way. The more frequently you’re away, the more important it becomes to avoid stressful situations and maintain healthy habits. These simple tips will allow you to relax and make your business travel as comfortable as possible.

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by Catherine Palmer // Although web design is Catherine's first passion, productivity, small business management and business growth in this digital age are topics she is quite interested in lately. Catherine has been researching and learning for some time now, and she is always happy to share her knowledge and inspire others by writing quality content.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.