About June of 2018, I had a complete mental disaster. I couldn't focus, couldn't get my work done, couldn't deal with day to day life. I was fat, I was stressed, I was tired, and life just kinda sucked. I had an excuse for everything and why I just couldn't you name it. Couldn't get time with friends, couldn't spend enough time with family, couldn't do my work fast enough, couldn't manage my weight. Always something with no solution in sight.
Making a Conscious Effort
So I decided to make a change. That's right, this was a conscious decision. I went out to research how I could fit anything to manage my stress with such a heavy travel schedule. What I found was probably even more frustrating. Most therapists required you to come in for a visit. Most places required you to be there frequently. Seems like a workable schedule for a traveler right?
So, I dug a little deeper and found that there are some remote therapists you can talk with using your laptop and/or an app. This was a start and a place to get going. So, I worked in these 30 minute sessions weekly for about 2 months but, during this time, I discovered an even more useful, effective, flexible, and less time consuming way to get time to manage my stress.
Enter the Calm App. This was literally a life-changing moment for me that allows me to get in a few minutes every day to stop, breathe, focus, and apply some meditation in my life. I can't stress enough the benefits of daily meditation. By simply taking 10 minutes daily whether it was in the hotel, on the plane, in the airport, in an Uber, or wherever else I could find ten minutes, I was able to:
- Reduce my stress 10x.
- Better control my anxiety.
- Improve and enhance my self awareness.
- Improve my sleep.
- Be more kind in my daily life.
I literally dove into this method. My wife thought I was completely bananas but the results spoke for themselves. It took time, it took dedication, but... I promise you, do this for 30 days straight and see what an improvement you find.
So, before you launch into why you can't do it:
- Your HSA / FSA should cover it! Mine did and it's been awesome.
- You really can't find 10 minutes a day? I don't believe it.
- What have you got to lose?
Go find some time for daily meditation! I highly recommend doing it first thing in the morning to set yourself up for a great day every day. Make a commitment, try it out, and improve your stress on the road, at home, and in your daily life. I know you can do it!
Recognizing You're Not the Only Traveler
This one is super hard when your flight is delayed and you may miss that meeting or you've been gone for weeks and haven't seen your family and it's just that one more flight till you're home.
I get it. I really really really get it. It's complicated, tiresome, frustrating, and straight up emotional. When we get to this state, all rationality typically goes out the window, but it's important to remember that all of those people around you likely have the same challenges and frustrations!
It's also important to remember that the flight attendants, pilots, and gate agents have the ability to make or break your trip. So rule #1: Don't be a dick. That's the rule and trust me, even if it pains you greatly to make that happen, it'll hurt a hell of a lot more if you're an ass-hole to the people trying to get you home.
Save yourself the stress... Be kind and it will pay off in huge dividends!
Get Some Sleep!
This one is a no-brainer. The more tired we are, the higher our cortisol (that dang stress-related chemical) levels are and the more we stress, the higher our stress gets. It's a pretty fucked-up cycle. I know.
Sleep can help us recharge, re-collect ourselves, and manage cortisol levels better. Whether you find a lounge, a Minute Suite (these things are epic), a ExpresSpa, or a hotel, get yourself some rest. Even a 30 minute nap has been shown to provide immense relief and help you manage better.
If you're really having a hard time, I am a frequent user of Melatonin. My personal favorite being Nature Made Melatonin + L-Theanine. This incredibly effective (and inexpensive method) packs a two-fold punch with Melatonin to aid in that getting to sleep phase and L-Theanine which is great for helping your body chill out a little. Don't over-do it here, but a single one of these about 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime can be a game changer for your sleep.
Get Your Workouts In
Don't stop, get it, get it! Keep up with your workouts. I know hotel gyms are awkward AF, but suck it up buttercup and get to the gym. Even if it's for some light cardio, exercise is an incredible method to help decrease your stress levels.
It'll help lower your cortisol, raise your endoprhin level, and make you feel like a badass because hey... you're a machine that doesn't quit and works out even at the hotel! Look, this one is easy, and even if it's only for 15 minutes, get in a quick workout.
If you're really concious, I've compiled some Travel Friendly Workouts that you can do alone in your hotel room using just your body weight. That's right, your body is a gym. Use it!
I hope that these ideas help you find a little relief from the constant stress of travel and help you find ways to focus more on the positive and on knowing that you have more control and power over this than you think! I'd love to hear about your experiences and your feedback on these ideas so leave some commentary below!