Chronic jet lag, memory impairment, reduced concentration and increased anxiety – these are some of the unfortunate side effects of frequent travelling, according to a recent study by the University of Surrey, UK. But while it may be challenging to reduce business travel, there are ways to combat the downside. Wellness guru Jojo Struys says a little mindset change can make all the difference.
“For example, instead of feeling the pressure to keep up with work on the go, I use the time on a plane to read and write, and enjoy the sense of being uncontactable,” says Struys, who’s also been working with multinational firms on stress management. As an ambassador for Westin Hotels & Resorts’ well-being movement, she is conducting a series of weekend workshops in Westin Kuala Lumpur and Westin Langkawi Resort and Spa, where she and guests will work on relaxation, breathing and motivation techniques. Here, she shares six tricks to help the discerning business traveller find calm.
1. Take a piece of home with you
Create a sense of familiarity in a generic hotel room by packing small items that remind you of home. “I always take my scent diffuser. I love essential oils such as lavender, ylang ylang and lemongrass,” says Struys. “I also have photographs of my four pet pugs in my phone’s photo gallery. Just seeing a photograph of them makes me feel a bit of home is with me.”
2. Stretch and relax
Relax and soothe tense muscles with these easy stretches. Start with a forward bend by standing with the feet hip-width apart. Keeping the knees slightly bent, fold the torso over the legs and allow arms to hang freely. This helps to release tension.
Alternatively, lie on the floor or a firm bed and prop legs up against a wall. “It brings that flow of blood back to the heart and is excellent for women who wear high heels or if you have varicose veins,” she says. “If you can’t do it at an angle of 90 degrees, you can move further away from the wall. You can do this for up to five minutes and just listen to your breathing.”
3. Have a pre-bedtime ritual
Suffering from insomnia, or unable to fall asleep in an unfamiliar hotel bed? Struys suggests a technique called “progressive muscle relaxation”. “This is where you curl the fists tightly into a ball and even bunch the shoulders up to the ears, then just release your muscles,” she explains.
You can also lie on your back and focus on progressively relaxing every muscle in the body, starting from the toes and work your way up to the top of your head.
4. Start your day right
Programme the alarm clock to ring to a favourite song. Instead of jolting right out of bed, take some time to lie on the side to gently allow the senses to awaken while listening to an upbeat tune.
5. Conquer the fear of flying
Those with a fear of flying can try this mind trick. “Listen to music and imagine being in a different location to relax yourself and divert focus from the fact that you are on a plane,” says Struys. The secret is to focus on creating as elaborate a mental image as possible by imagining the sights, sounds, smells and even taste of this pleasurable situation to distract yourself from this fear.
6. Enjoy the airport
Give yourself some wriggle room when travelling to ease the anxiety of missing a flight. Struys suggests: “When getting to an airport, why not challenge yourself to go early instead of rushing through at the last minute? Then suddenly this part of your trip becomes pleasurable since you have time to get a snack or stroll through the airport.”