Business travel is, by definition, stressful. Delays may mean a missed meeting. Flights may be at odd hours. At the end of the work day, you don't go home but to a hotel room.
You can ease the stress of travel by adopting a healthy attitude and building personal time into your schedule, advises Bill Tulin, a San Francisco-based attorney and masters swimmer who travels frequently. He's also coauthor of Travel Fitness: Feel Better, Perform Better on the Road.
The payoff for incorporating wellness in your travel plans includes improved physical well-being, mental alertness and better job performance.
The following suggestions can help reduce the stress of travel:
Avoid connecting flights, peak travel times and busy airports. Take nonstop flights whenever possible to avoid layovers and decrease your chances of delayed or canceled flights. Likewise, avoid travel on Mondays and Fridays and flights that depart or arrive between 7 and 9 a.m. and 4 and 7 p.m.
Schedule extra time to get there. "If an out-of-town meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m., don't catch a flight that arrives at 9 a.m.," Tulin says. "Instead, give yourself plenty of time to rent a car and make it to your meeting."
Do a pre-trip workout. "Doing a 15- to 20-minute workout on the day you leave can help you relax and get in shape for the rigors of the road," Tulin says. "The better shape you're in before you leave, the better you'll feel while you're gone."
Adopt a healthy attitude. There's no use worrying about things you can't control, such as flight delays or canceled flights. "When things go wrong, use the time to catch up on your reading or other work," Tulin says. "To use an airport layover creatively, spend the time contemplating one of your life's goals and brainstorm ways to achieve it."
Practice deep breathing. "Taking three slow, deep breaths can lower your pulse by five beats a minute and help you relax and deal with a highly stressful situation," Tulin says.
Take time for yourself. Plan ahead to see friends for dinner or lunch when traveling to a distant city. Read a book you enjoy instead of business briefs in the evening. Listen to music instead of sales tapes when driving.
Create a personal travel mantra. Come up with a positive phrase to help you cope with in-transit stress. For example: Repeating the phrase "I am where I'm supposed to be," may help you relax when a situation beyond your control develops.
However you travel--by plane, car, boat or train--there's no escaping lots of sitting.
To avoid back, neck and leg pain, practice dynamic sitting--a way of sitting that allows your bones, instead of your muscles and ligaments, to support your body. To sit this way: Slightly arch your lower back and distribute your weight evenly over your pelvic bones. Don't cross your legs. Keep your shoulders and abdomen relaxed and slightly arch your neck.
Choosing a rental car with an adjustable seat is important if you'll be driving a lot. "Your best bet is a car with a seat that has a six-way power-seat adjustment, so you can adjust the seat forward, back, up and down, as well as adjust the tilt of the seat back," Tulin says. "Being able to determine the best seat position for you is crucial to comfort."
© 2013 Main Line Health