I've been promoted to a new position at work that requires a lot of traveling, and I haven't traveled extensively. How can I balance my health, career and travel?
Answer From Edward T. Creagan, M.D.
Congratulations on your new appointment. But business travel is not a vacation, and you need to be prepared for this new journey.
The day of the 9-to-5 job sitting behind a desk may be obsolete, and you need to be flexible and nimble in this new corporate world. Here are some tips and insights to help you find balance when you travel for business.
The future belongs to the fit. If you don't have a fundamental level of wellness, your gifts and skills can become squandered. Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity five days a week, and at least two days of strength training a week. It's a good idea to meet with a personal trainer to learn how to do the exercises right.
Also, you become what you eat. Meeting with a registered dietitian and keeping a food diary can enhance your overall sense of well-being.
And you can't underestimate the importance of restorative sleep. Research shows that most people who get less than seven hours of sleep don't perform as well on complex mental tasks as people who get closer to seven hours of sleep a night.
You must be ruthlessly organized. In the culinary world, the concept of "mise en place," which means everything in its place, is drilled into the brain of the chef. You need to have a consistent routine, or you may forget your passport or your keys.
When you're stressed or tired, you can't trust your brain. It's crucial to have a pen and keep a written list, and store it where you won't lose it. Without a list, you may wind up in the wrong airport or lose your luggage.
The most important part of the day is the night before, especially if you're leaving for a flight in the morning. Lay out clothes, and set out the tools of the trade — such as your cellphone, a portable power pack and charging cords — or they may be left behind. If you're flying, take luggage on board as a carry-on to lower the chances of it getting lost and save yourself time after you arrive by not having to wait at the carousel.
- Get in the zone. Athletes and performers talk about being in the zone, being locked in or having a game face. The same is true for the corporate world. You need to have a clear focus on the job at hand and recognize that if you're distracted by other commitments, you likely won't be on top of your game.
So as you travel for business, aim to be healthy, organized and focused, and have a very clear agenda.
March 16, 2021
See more Expert Answers
- Creagan ET (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 26, 2017.
- 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/. Accessed July 26, 2017.
- Banks S, et al. Behavioral and physiological consequences of sleep restriction. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 2007;3:519.
- Watson NJ, et al. Recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult: A joint consensus statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 2015;11:591.