Living in a more connected world doesn't mean we have to travel any less, and with travel often comes anxiety. But it doesn't have to be that way...
Every day, millions of people hop on trains and planes for business trips.
According to The Global Business Travel Association, an experienced traveller will make 12 trips a year. Younger travellers (under 35) average 14 business trips a year.
And all this travel takes a toll. We've all experienced the stress of travel. Am I going to get to the date on time? Where is my luggage? Is my bag going to be okay in the luggage compartment? Where am I going? Will I remember the foreign language phrases I picked up?
It can be a nightmare.
And science backs this up. According to research published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, business travellers are more likely to suffer from poor mental health.
"The individuals who are travelling the most have the poorest self-rated health, the worst depression symptoms, the worst anxiety symptoms," said Andrew Rundle, one of the study’s co-authors and a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University.
So what can you do to combat your business travel anxiety? With a little planning and a little mindfulness, you can make your trip go much smoother. Here's how…
1. Have a stress-free itinerary
Double check the location of your hotel or business meeting, and make sure you're flying into the best airport, or arriving at the right train station.
Travel nonstop whenever possible. This will remove the stress of making a connection and limit potential delays. If you're forced to, don’t schedule flights or train journeys with tight connections. The tension of a tight connection will cause you a lot of stress and you'll never really relax until you've made it.
2. Have a travel buddy
Travelling alone can be more stressful than travelling with friends. Many people who live with anxiety have a special person who calms them down. So bring them with you if you can! They might enjoy a little holiday.
If you're travelling with co-workers, make sure that they are aware of your fears and anxiety. They are more likely to be understanding and supportive if you do.
3. Look after yourself
It's all too easy to focus on your anxiety. One way to manage this is to realise you're doing it and turn your focus elsewhere. Bring along a good book, or a Kindle. Download some games onto your phone or device and use them to get out of your head for a while.
If you're travelling to a new city, think about how exciting it'll be to visit somewhere new. If it's an important business trip, remember how prestigious and career-driving the trip will be.
Use affirmations to centre on more calming thoughts. Keep telling yourself: "I'm safe" or, "This feeling will pass", and be mindful of your breathing. Breathe slowly and steadily.
Panic and anxiety can have a physical impact on your body, too. Many sufferers experience tension and tightness throughout their body.
To relieve your aches and pains, try doing some stretches, move through a few yoga postures if you have the space. Walk up and down the aisle if you can. Don't rush, just concentrate on taking even, steady steps.
Make sure you drink plenty of water and eat fresh fruit and veg while you travel. This will give you more energy and make you feel more positive and active. Avoid stimulants like coffee as these can make anxiety worse.
4. Plan! And then plan some more!
One of the biggest causes of anxiety is when you lose control of the situation. While business travel involves so many factors that are out of your control, there are some things you can do.
Make travel arrangements that allow you plenty of time to arrive. So, if you miss your first flight or train, you can get the next one and still arrive on time.
Create a folder with all your travel documents in it. When your tickets and passport are all in one place, you're less likely to worry about where they are.
Use travel apps to keep up to date with departure times and potential traffic issues. Have a portable Wi-Fi hotspot and a charger, just in case you get stuck somewhere and need to use your phone or laptop.
5. Be brave
According to the journal Science, one of the best ways to defeat fear and anxiety is to deal with it head on.
Basically, the more exposure to a fear you get, the more normal it becomes. You can rewrite the memory of your fear.
Afraid of public transport? Ride the Underground until you know it like the back of your hand. Anxious about airplanes? Take a window seat and enjoy the clouds. Worried about getting lost? Explore the area with co-workers and Google Maps.
The more business travel you do, the better you'll get at it. You'll find shortcuts and little tricks that can help you make you business trip less stressful. But remember these five tips if you're travelling for the first time.