Business travel can definitely be stressful for several reasons, so we’re here to help by offering practical tips and tricks for reducing your stress. Here are some common pain points that business travelers can experience during their business trips, and how to address them:
Concerns regarding travel during the Covid-19 pandemic
- Before traveling, check on the Covid-19 travel recommendations and restrictions for both your local area and the area you’re traveling to. Do your research so you’re well-informed.
- If you can, travel on ‘slower’ (less busy days): Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. You’ll have more space in the stations/airports, shorter lines, fewer passengers near you when seated, etc. and this will ease your stress.
- When packing, prepare supplies such as extra masks, hand sanitizer, etc.; practice good hygiene, especially with your skin. This will help keep you healthy and others around you too.
- Research the status of Covid-19 at your destination, as you’ll want to be aware of possible increased risk of transmission. Take precautions as necessary, since you’re less familiar with the
- Covid status in this new place (for example, skip higher-risk activities such as crowded cafes, tourist attractions, confined indoor activities, etc.). Knowing what to expect will help reduce uncertainty and stress as well.
- Delays are unfortunately common, especially with air travel. If this occurs, the key is to be proactive – contact service agents to ask questions about scheduling and gather information as you may need to try to look for alternative travel arrangements to help get your itinerary back on track.
- In case of delays, prepare in your personal bag a book, music, etc. which could help you pass the time; a delay is also a good opportunity to engage in some of the practices outlined in the next section on layovers.
Layovers, long lines and waiting times
- As for many aspects of travel, it’s best to be prepared – when you know you have a layover in your trip, be sure to pack extra items that could help you have a more enjoyable experience as you pass the time and/or relax. For example you could bring reading material, music/videos, snacks, some of your work materials, or plan to call a friend.
- Travel frequently involves periods of waiting for the next step to happen, so this is a good time to try out some breathing techniques and/or meditation. Some helpful calming practices – which are also helpful after a long stressful day of travel – include: o “Square” breathing – breathe in through your nose for about 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, then exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds, then hold for 4 seconds. This is the “square.” Continue this until you feel calmer. You can adjust the lengths of the intervals– it’s common to lengthen the exhalation and breath-holding (so the pattern is 4-7-8-4 or 4-8-7-4 seconds). An example of a guided “Nidra” meditation with the extended intervals can be found here). o Alternate nostril breathing – gently block one nostril with your thumb and inhale until your lungs are richly full. Hold your breath as you shift your thumb to then close off the other nostril instead. Exhale slowly. Repeat this process, continuing to breathe through only one nostril at a time.
- Also, as many people are quite sedentary during travel (e.g. while on a plane), you could take layovers or other waiting periods as an opportunity to get some movement in – whether walking around the airport, stretching, doing some yoga, etc. This can help clear your mind of some of your stress, and gets your blood flowing so your brain is reenergized. There are even mini stretches you can do while seated in a plane, bus, train, etc! (see these stretches)
Figuring out business meetings
- Before your trip, try to have planned out your schedule of meetings and appointments, that way you’ll feel prepared and organized upon arrival. Also prepare any notes, materials, etc. that you may need.
- Have the contact information of the people you’ll be meeting with, and contact them upon your arrival to confirm the meeting.
Conferences and communication
- Be aware of your energy levels if you’re having to do a lot of socializing or meeting with many people back-to-back. Too many meetings and ‘excessive collaboration’ can actually contribute to employee burnout! (For more info see here). Pay attention to how some meetings/events may not be productive (and yet still are stressful) and consider cutting these out of your calendar.
- When traveling abroad, cultural norms can take some getting used to, especially when you’re in a place that has business norms different from your own. It’s a good idea to do a bit of research on the cultural customs of your city/country you’ll be conducting business in.
- If you’re in a country with a foreign language, practice a few key introductory phrases in that language so that you can at least engage in some basic conversations.
Deciding what to do at the destination with a limited amount of free time
- This is a great opportunity to use the J&F app! You can use J&F resources to curate a streamlined itinerary with the top sites at your destination. With the app you can get personalized suggestions for your travels, so you make the most of a short trip.
Not finding time for oneself
- Busy business travel can leave one feeling overwhelmed by so much interaction with others, and so it’s important to carve out time and space (in your schedule, your physical space, in your mind, etc.) to focus on YOU. You’ll be calmer, happier, and more energetic by engaging in this crucial – and totally normal – “recharging” of yourself. You deserve self-care. Be creative in how you prioritize your time, so that you make sure that at least once a day you have a moment to yourself to recenter. Don’t be afraid to say no to engagements that don’t serve you.
- For specific tips on how to make time for yourself, check out this site.
- Many airports have “sleep box” lounges which allow travelers to book a cozy room (even in small increments such as 15 minutes) where you could take a quick nap, catch up on your work, etc. without any distractions. For more info on these sites, check out the J&F app.
- Many airports also have meditation centers which offer a nondenominational quiet space where you can reflect, meditate, pray, etc.
Not being mindful and present on the road
- Check in with your thoughts – are you living in the present or are your thoughts bouncing to the past and/or future? If they’re bouncing around, gently bring your thoughts back to the present moment (be patient with this!). Where is your attention? A terrific way to start being more mindful is by focusing on your breath.
- Check in with your five senses, and what they’re noticing in your surroundings – what do you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel? – this is the present moment!
- A common time to engage in mindfulness is when you’re transitioning; each time you shift to another activity, take a couple of deep breaths and come back to the present moment. Check in with yourself, before rushing on to the next thing.
Extended ‘screen time’
- It can be overwhelming to be using many screens throughout the day, so try to keep your technology use minimal.
- Adjust the brightness of your devices - when a screen is much brighter than the surroundings, your eyes have to work harder and so likely will get tired. If possible, try dimming your screen or increasing your screen’s contrast.
- The 20-20-20 rule: About every 20 minutes, you can give your eyes a break by looking at an object about 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This helps your eyes relax.
- Limit device use before bed. Screens’ blue light has a stimulatory effect that can influence your body’s natural wake/sleep cycle. Therefore you should try to minimize screen time 1-2 hours before bed, as the screen’s effect makes it harder to fall asleep. Additionally, many devices have nighttime settings which reduce blue light exposure.