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Mental health support for business travellers

Mental health support for business travellers
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Travelling for work? Here’s how to support your mental health

Many people see an opportunity for travel as a huge perk of their job. But business travel can also be stressful and overwhelming. Dealing with enhanced airport security, language barriers, isolation from friends and family and worries about physical health can take a toll on your psychological health.

So if you’ve got a business trip coming up, particularly if it’s a long one, take time to care for your mental health.

What can you do before your trip to support your mental health?

Anything you can do to reduce pre-travel stress will be helpful in supporting your mental health while travelling for business. Take advantage of any programs your organization offers that will make your trip easier. For example, attend briefings and read any information you can get. Find out what assistance your company will offer while you are travelling, or get travel insurance that includes a health helpline. Your organization’s occupational health department can also offer advice on travel abroad.

Be aware of cultural differences at your destination. This can help you to avoid misunderstandings and culture shock. Do some research on the country’s customs and traditions before you go.

If you don’t speak the language of the country you’re working in, be prepared for language barriers. This can be frustrating, but there are ways to cope. Even a few basic phrases in the local language can make all the difference.

Another important step in preparing for your business trip is to find out how to avoid exposure to infections linked to travel, such as hepatitis and tick-borne encephalitis. Make a travel health appointment with Canadian Travel Clinics to get expert advice about your destination. Ideally we would like to see you six to eight weeks before your departure date – but we can help if you’re travelling last minute, too.

Take breaks during your business trip to reduce stress

If you can, build rest days into your business trip’s schedule. Taking a day off work to pack and prepare before you leave can make all the difference. And many business travellers prefer not to go straight from the airport to their desk when they arrive back in Canada.

Perhaps you are doing business in a desirable location (lucky you!). Consider tacking a few vacation days on to either end of your trip so you can enjoy the sights.

Call home while travelling to protect your mental health

Keeping connected to the people you care about while you’re travelling will help you feel less isolated and more supported. Think about what you might need to stay in touch and ask your organization to support you in getting internet access, or a phone that works in your destination.

Be flexible and patient for less stress while travelling

Things don’t always go according to plan when you travel for business. Be prepared to be flexible and agile. This will help you avoid getting too stressed if something unexpected happens.

Some of the stress-reduction techniques you use at home will also work while travelling – for example, deep breathing or some physical exercise. It’s also worth chatting to someone – a colleague or a fellow traveller.

What to do if you have a mental health crisis while travelling

If you find that you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed on a business trip, it’s important to get support promptly. Mental health services outside Canada may not be of the standard you are used to; and they may not be accessible because of language barriers. So plan ahead how you will get help for a mental health issue while travelling. The Government of Canada has some advice on accessing healthcare while traveling.

Our article about getting medical help while traveling may be of interest; and we have an article on taking care of your mental health while traveling and also an article about health on business trips.

Take good care of your mental health on your business trip

Travelling can be a wonderful experience, but it’s important to take care of your mind and its wellbeing while you’re away. By following these tips, you can reduce stress and enjoy your trip to the fullest.