Business Travel Blues: Something Stressful in the Air

IMAGE Biting the flight attendant? Having a mid-flight temper tantrum? Although it sounds uncivilized, more and more air travelers are exhibiting their own versions of road rage, caused in part by the stressors of business travel. Millions of business people across the nation pull double duty by keeping the home fires burning while taking care of business on the road. Unfortunately, whether you travel three days a year or three weeks a month, stress generated from trying to keep all the balls in the air can damage your effectiveness at home and on the job.Stress, no matter the cause, affects our health, well-being, and relationships. How you handle the stress thrown at you affects everyone around you.

Types of Stressors

Stressors can be classified into one of two categories—internal or external. External sress comes from other sources, such as your job, family, or big changes in your life. Internal stress centers on your reaction to the external stress. Are positive or negative? Do you run from stress, try to hide from it, or face it head on? These occur whether you are at home or on the road. Although many elements of work, personal life, and business travel are outside your sphere of influence, you can control some contributing factors. Even the effects of those elements outside your direct control can still be moderated by your responses.

How to Cope

When you travel, flight delays are inevitable. That is something you can't control. What you can do is plan ahead and be ready to occupy your time doing something else, rather than stew about it. Next time you travel, carry a book or newspaper to distract you and calm you down. Jim G., a Boston frequent-flyer, keeps crossword puzzle books in his briefcase for those times when his flight is delayed. "I get so into solving the puzzles that I tend to forget that I've been sitting in the same airport chair for five hours longer than I had planned."If going some place new and unfamiliar makes you feel anxious, arrange for a car and driver, or carry maps of the city.You must evaluate your own stressors and create ways to address them. Taking a few minutes before a trip to determine some of the elements that might cause anxiety, and then develop some coping mechanisms. Find some homey places near your hotel that you may escape to when the pressure builds. Use techniques, such as massage, progressive relaxation, and visualization to calm yourself down. Whether you are in the midst of a trans-Atlantic flight or sitting through an all-day meeting, something as simple as deep breathing or getting up from your seat and taking a quick stretch can help. Many airports have masseurs available. The next time your blood pressure rises because of a flight delay or cancellation, seek out one of these unique storefronts in the terminal to help ease your frustration.

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