Corporate travelers who spend much of their time on the road running like Usain Bolt may feel how it’s beginning to wear on them physically, emotionally and mentally.
From constantly having to adjust to a new time zone to dealing with the grind of transportation and adapting to a strange city and hotel room, traveling for business can take a toll on one’s well-being.
Combine that with the unhealthy foods waiting at every corner, little to no exercise and an out-of-whack sleep cycle and it can be a recipe for a mental meltdown.
To help prevent travel burnout, here are eight ways to take your always-on-the-road body and mind to a healthier place.
1. Pack light, pack smart
When you stop to think about it, how you pack can have a significant impact on your mental health. A disorderly, overstuffed suitcase is more weight — figuratively and literally — for you to carry and can take you to a state of dishevelment. But when you pack light and in an organized manner, it’ll make living out of a carry-on simple to manage. Also, when you have less stuff to worry about, it frees up your mind and enables you to have more bandwidth for what really matters — i.e., business.
2. Quickly shake off jet lag
Jet lag can play dirty tricks on the mind. To combat its effects, drink plenty of H20 on the flight, avoid alcohol and limit your caffeine intake. Daylight can work like magic in regulating your biological clock, so once you land, spend time outside soaking up some rays.
While it may be tempting to reach for a sugary treat to power through an afternoon meeting, you’ll be better off having a light meal with a good balance of protein, complex carbohydrates and plant-based foods to keep your energy level steady.
In many ways, it’s not just what you eat but when you eat, since meals help to regulate your body’s rhythms. So plan mealtime according to local time, not necessarily based on what your stomach is telling you.
3. Do the body good
This one is critical. In addition to keeping yourself healthy, exercise can help relieve jet lag, burn off stress and anxiety, and boost your energy level and confidence. While it’s easy to convince yourself you don’t have time during a business trip, it’s often easier to squeeze in a workout while traveling. When else do you have a fully equipped gym just an elevator ride away from your room and no household responsibilities to deal with? And with a number of hotels offering gym equipment right there in the guest room, it’ll be hard to let the little voice inside your head win the “just skip it” argument.
4. Peace out
If you have not made meditation a part of your routine, a business trip can be the perfect time to pick it up. Download an app like Simple Habit, a five-minute meditation tool designed with busy people in mind, to bring some Zen into your trip. All it takes is five minutes for you to relieve nerves before takeoff, relax your mind before sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings or center yourself before that all-important meeting.
5. Stay loyal
Sure, it’s nice to have options, but a lot of stress can be reduced when your decisions are reduced, especially when it comes to selecting hotel accommodations. No need to spend a lot of time pouring over reviews and comparing this one to that one when you remain loyal to one hotel chain.
So figure out which brand in your program is your favorite and stick with it. Not only will this free up a lot of your valuable time, but you’ll collect so many more points when you’re monogamous — and then those can be redeemed for an upgraded room, a massage at the hotel spa or an extra free night during a bleisure trip. And be sure to book your hotel at the same time as your air so you don’t have to give it any further thought.
6. Ward off hotel gloom
To combat that sense of loneliness that can creep in once back at the hotel, only use your room as a base to sleep, shower and catch up on work email and then spend the rest of your non-working hours exploring the city you’re in.
Do your homework and pick out a few points of interest before your trip. You can find a restaurant that serves authentic local cuisine through OpenTable, top attractions through TripAdvisor or fun ways to get to know the city with other people through Airbnb Experiences.
7. Log out, power down
While you may feel like you have to do double duty while on a business trip and respond to messages coming from co-workers back home after already putting in a full workday, set a strict cutoff time when to call it quits. The minute that moment comes, log out of your email, put the ringer on silent and power off your mind. For maximum rest and relaxation, revisit Tip No. 4 and resist the urge to check your phone in bed by stowing your device in your carry-on, not within reach on the nightstand.
8. Let others do the work
Coming home from a business trip can be just as stressful as the trip itself. Fortunately, there’s a slew of apps and services to help ease you back into your routine.
Suitcase full of dirty clothes? Look into laundry services that will pick up those soiled duds and return them clean.
Need to go on a milk-and-toilet-paper run and pick up dry cleaning? Have a snowed-in driveway to shovel or lawn to mow? Use a service like TaskRabbit to get these and other time-consuming chores and errands done at a fraction of the cost of a full-time personal assistant.