You checked your calendar. In a couple days you will be two times zones away for three days. The stakes are high. You must make the sell and close the deal. You are the chosen person for the mission...orr maybe you didn't get the "if you decide to accept it" part of the message on your voice mail! You are beginning to feel that you have a 'virtual home life'.
The right flight, getting into the right airport, the car rental, and of course then dealing with presentation anxiety. And remember, ultimately its about closing the deal!
These are on the road stressors ... then of course the pile of work when you get back to the office, more deadlines, readjusting to time zone changes and sleepless nights, chirping cell phones, late night emails, lost weekends, uncertain economy , work related deliverables, kids, traffic, relationships, guilt, roles, responsibilities, STRESS!!!
Research has identified 3 unique components for 'air travel stress':
- Anxious reactions to adverse air travel events--i.e. delays
- Angry reactions to other passengers
- Lack of trust that airlines/airports will ensure your safety and comfort
The truth is unexpected & expected challenges occur with air travel and business trips. It's inevitable! Here are my thoughts on the keys to transform potentially harmful reactions into healthy responses for life in the BestStressZone.
Here are 10 stress-relief tips for road warriors: Pre-trip planning and delegation are key. In a separate conversation we will focus on your family. For now let's focus on the business of the trip. Delegate components of ongoing projects for completion in your absence. Be clear and specific. Communicate 'how and when' you will be available. Specific deliverables and dates are critical.
- The trip. Get to the airport early. Expect Delays. Breathe. Invest in a membership in a onsite club at the airport of you home base. Have a folder with work that requires less focused attention. Or have great book to read. Locate the masseuse or favorite restaurant. Avoid alcohol. If you need to get work done identify where the 'juice' is and set up office. Mind Shift when the delay is announced. Focus on productivity. The delay can be viewed as a welcomed opportunity to complete work or even get a quick nap. Set your alarm. Power naps should be no longer than 30 minutes.
- Make a decision before you enter the cabin re how you want and need to spend your flight time. Avoid conversation if you need to get work done. K. Just tell that person that you cant talk. Be creative. Expect to get your coffee or water before the initial descent. Know if the car driver awaiting you will be inside the airport or at curbside. No fun not seeing your name on a sign on arrival at 11pm in an unfamiliar airport.
- Expect to get the rental car you didn't want. Its Okay. Don't leave directions to chance. Get directions/map in advance prior to your departure. I like a printed copy of directions from any of the online map services.
- Allow for travel fatigue & jet lag when scheduling critical meetings. Traditionally optimal functioning is based on one day per time zone when traveling east to west. Peak performance based on studies of elite athletics is around 5pm. Use this to your advantage if you are making a quick trip east to west. Your body clock naturally wants to sleep is between 3-5pm and 3-5am.
- If you know you are 'special' and your lodging must accommodate your needs--go ahead and micromanage your arrangements in advance. It's okay and will de-stress you & all those around you.
- Get Physical. Ideally your accommodations will be in a safe environment for a walk. Or be sure there is a gym. Consider an early morning brisk walk, followed by oatmeal and protein bar, instead of the full "American buffet breakfast" in the morning Or if you are not a morning person, how about a walk instead of a quick drink when you return at the end of the day.
- Personal Alarm Clock--a MUST. Personal pictures of family---at least for me a MUST. If you can take your kids on a virtual tour of your hotel they have a great visual for your scheduled nightly call. And Make the call on time. If you business is such that you need a range...do so. If you have kids consider the value of making a scheduled morning call to check-in with your partner, kids and other household residents.
- Celebrate your Success or Failure in real time. Call or contact your support person in the office in real time. When you make that nightly call home be sure to tell the people you love--the people who anchor you about your day. Keeping that connection makes it easier to re-connect when you return.
- Return Rituals. Plan for reintegration with family and office staff. Emails and texts are often not adequate. Science suggests a day at home is ideal before return to the office after a east to west trip.
So what are your tips for business travel stress relief?
Carol J. Scott, MD, MSEd is a stress relief strategist for high achieving professionals. Author of, Optimal Stress: Living in Yiour Best Stress Zone, John Wiley, 2010, She is a speaker, stress relief coach, practicing emergency physician and health educator trained at Johns Hopkins. She hosts a weekly syndicated weekly radio show. You can join the conversation at Facebook.com/stressreliefradio.