Managing Stress When Traveling for Work

Traveling for work is something that many people must undertake, no matter what industry space they occupy. Now, more than ever, we’re experiencing longer daily commutes to and from work, as well as planning for short and long haul flights to travel for our jobs. If you’re a healthcare worker, depending on your job, you could be asked to go and work in developing countries, or simply to go and provide help and support in another city that might involve flying and living away from your loved ones.

Working within the healthcare sector can present many daily stresses and challenges, so if you must travel it might feel like an added pressure to worry about, even with the help of an agency. We’ve put together a guide to managing stress when traveling for work, featuring a list of handy pointers to help you through.

Take Care of Your Mental Well-being

Traveling can present an extra stress that might at first seem completely unmanageable, especially when you also must factor in doing your job to the best of your ability too.

If you find yourself faced with a situation beyond your control, such as unplanned delay, an extreme weather event which has thrown your plans into disarray, or even day to day happenings like slow moving crowds of people or packed airports and stations, pay attention to your stress levels and be proactive in tackling them. Take a deep breath, listen to music, have to hand a tissue with a few drops of lavender essential oil on, to inhale.

In unfamiliar environments taking a step back and allowing yourself time to adjust and a few moments to breathe properly can really make a difference to how you tackle the long or short journey ahead of you.

Make sure you plan time to talk to and catch up with your loved ones, as this can help you feel more grounded and less stressed. Even if it is just a few short text messages or a phone call home, it can mean a lot to them and do you the power of good too.

Routines…Are Essential

As humans we all crave some sort of a structure or routine, to varying degrees. Think about putting in place some regular activities at certain points during the week, that will give you something to look forward to and aim for.

For instance, look at starting an exercise routine that will give you some de-stressing time and the chance to unwind, or plan a daily walk to get you some fresh air. Even think about grabbing a coffee or a snack at the same café every few days. If you’re in an unfamiliar place it can help you get to know where you’re living and help you adapt much quicker.

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Don’t Go Hungry

You might experience a travel delay, or end up stuck in a meeting, or just simply be working in a different time zone with no real chance to let yourself adjust. Sometimes you end up very hungry and with no food options that appeal to you, or that you can stomach eating.

In your hand luggage make sure you have handy, portable snacks that you know you can eat whatever. Think about protein packed energy bars, or healthy dried fruits and nuts. Always consider foods that are well wrapped and that won’t melt, crumble, or expire in a short time and keep your supplies of these up. Sometimes, knowing you have a comforting snack that you like, is a taste of home and can provide comfort when you’re away.

Buy Duplicates of Certain Items

If you know you’re going to be traveling a lot then think about the key items you need to have with you all the time and leave one set in your travel bag at all times and one at home. This saves constantly having to pack and re-pack and means you’ll never be without the real necessities. Think about travel versions of your favourite toiletries, second sets of clothes you like and need for work. A second phone and laptop charger are also essential for investing in.

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Take it Back to Basics Every Now and Again

Every few months, no matter how good you think you’ve been with packing for travel, take a look through your basics and see what clutter you’ve accumulated.

Throw away anything that is not essential to your travel. It’s good to have duplicates of the really important gear, but you can also end up picking up lots of backup clothing, batteries, and other techy gadgets you’re sure you’ll use but then never do.

Remember that at some point you're going to be dragging, lifting, and hauling those items around as you move between accommodations booked for your trip, while convincing yourself that you’ll use them, but ultimately, they’ll contribute nothing to your work or your trip.

In all but very rare cases, items from clothing to chargers are available nearly anywhere in the world and it may well be possible, unless you’re going to somewhere totally cut off and remote, that you can buy emergency back-ups for pretty much anything, anywhere!

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Expect the Unexpected

No matter how often you travel for work, and how unpredictable or stressful your health care job can be you will still come across situations that you didn’t expect at all.

It might be a travel delay or finding yourself in a place in which you find you don’t speak the same language as everyone else and have no translator handy.

Make sure that you build some buffer time into your daily schedule, to do things that remind you of home and give you pleasure, such as watching a favourite television show on a catch up service or reading a favourite book. These activities can help to keep your stress levels lower.

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Be Good ToOthers

It is true, kindness is repaid with kindness. Whether this is helping a fellow traveller, or just taking time to talk to someone on a flight, or in a café or bar.

We all know how easy it is to get angry, become frustrated or be generally rude when things don’t go our way. It’s also just as easy to smile and say ‘thank you’ or take the time to give appreciation for good service you have received as part of your work. Being kind to others will give you a sense of satisfaction and make you feel less stressed.