Remember “The Twilight Zone,” the classic TV show that featured unforgettable stories with a twist? One of my favorite parts of the original series was host Rod Serling’s opening monologue, where he described the Twilight Zone as “a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow.” Recently that phrase popped into my mind to describe a different kind of experience – business trips.
Think about it. You are out of your normal routine, often spending hours in packed conference rooms or convention halls away from natural sunlight. Staring intently at PowerPoint presentations and laptops for hours upon end can distort your notion of time. Overeating the multitude of snacks and meals served every waking minute feels like a perfectly natural way to break the monotony. But you don’t have to eat that third stale croissant leftover from the breakfast buffet after all.
It is possible to maintain your well-being during business travel. Here are 4 ways to take great care of yourself while taking care of business:
1: Plan regular movement.
During many business meetings, you may find yourself sitting for hours at a time which isn’t great for your health. At a minimum, stand up periodically and walk around the area. Take the stairs instead of an elevator and walk whenever possible.
Even better, make sure you build some exercise into your day. I always check out the hotel gym and plan exactly what I’m going to do for fitness around my business meeting schedule, because that energizes my mind and spirit as much as my physical wellness. When I was recently in Las Vegas for a week, one of the personal highlights was taking a 6.5 mile cardio walk down the strip with my friend and co-worker Wendy Leveillee, capped up with a healthy lunch.
2: Take mental breaks.
I don’t care what your IQ is; participating actively in important meetings requires intense concentration and focus that becomes harder to sustain over time. Add in networking lunches and dinner social events, and the pressure to be “on” can be constant. We can all benefit from taking mental breaks.
Just ask Global Executive Leadership Coach Brenda Bence, Ranked Top Ten Coach Globally and author of The Forgotten Choice: Shift Your Inner Mindset, Shape Your Outer World. An advocate of regular mental rest breaks, Bence said that even one minute per hour can make a difference in your well-being. “I ask the executives I work with to take one minute, 60 seconds every hour, to sit back, relax, calm your mind, bring down your shoulders and breathe deeply,” she explained. “If you do that one minute for every waking hour, then you’ll get about 16 minutes or so a day of mental rest. That is just one example of how you can easily find time for taking care of yourself.”
3: Create boundaries.
Facing a booked agenda with numerous outings? You don’t have to attend them all. Really, you don’t. Pick the most impactful events – the ones that will make the biggest difference in forming relationships, can positively influence business results or just sound like it would be a great time with good people – and prioritize those. You will still accomplish your strategic intent for the meeting, conference or whatever brought you on this business trip without burning yourself out.
4: Schedule a night in for yourself.
Chances are good that you share your normal life with others – a spouse or partner, kids, extended family members and friends, pets and the like. You probably extend a certain amount of energy taking care of those loved ones and keeping things going.
If you are on a multi-night business trip, and have already crossed important things off your list, consider planning a night in for yourself. Think about what you would really enjoy if you had a night alone. Maybe it is a room service meal where you don’t have to share your favorite dessert, followed by binging your favorite streaming show. Or it could be getting a massage or reading for hours or doing nothing at all. A quiet night in can really restore your soul.
How do you maintain your well-being during business trips?