“I used to go on business trips and love it. But lately I do not enjoy traveling at all.” I hear this from a lot of clients and friends. I am not surprised. Many professionals it seems go through this phase of dreading travel. For some it is more severe than others. Personally, I delayed and avoided travel for seven years. Of course I traveled when I had to, but I always made all kinds of excuses to find ways not to travel. Then, when I travel I would be under lots of stress. As if I am trapped. All I have in my mind is I want to go home. I had to research and find a way to deal with this. This is what I found.
- I found out this is very common. Many people have this challenge. Many do not dare to face let alone talk about it. This is why it seems like no one but you has it. Everybody and their uncle has it. So it is OK to go through this experience. The toughest thing when I was going through this period is the feeling of being alone. I thought no one was experiencing what I was experiencing. Actually many friends when I confided in them my feeling towards travel they would give me a hard time and tell me how lucky I am to be traveling. That would make me feel even worse and more isolated. I started looking for a solution. It took me seven years to find it.
- Do not try rationality; it does not work! The problem is that when thinking about it rationally, I come to the conclusion that I have to travel, and what I am doing is not right by not traveling. But that does not help. I still do not want to do it.
- Work on your Mind: Help it deal with the challenge, as you would a help a child deal with a bully. In this case, the bully is fear of travel. How can we help the mind? Here are a few tips:
- Look in the mirror. Usually we are much calmer on the outside than we feel on the inside. Looking at the mirror and seeing our calm self, might help us calm down on the inside.
- Put a smile on your face. Again, mental game on your mind that tells it everything is OK. The mind says, “if this guy is smiling, things must be fine,” and it will give the body the message to act normal.
- Breathe. Breathing is the key to the whole body, including the mind. Learning to breathe intentionally, deeply, softly, and calmly, seems too simple to work. Have a breathing session everyday, where you breathe in and out slowly. Breathe from the belly or middle area, but not the top torso. Inhale to a count of four, and exhale to a count of six. do that for ten minutes daily. you have to start this on normal days, not while traveling only. It has to become a habit.
- Imagine you are the hero in a movie, what do you think the hero should do? act accodingly, and enjoy being the star. Try it. It is a lot of fun.
- Observe emotions and how they are making you feel, objectively. This works like magic. Thoughts and emotions cause physical stress. If you are already stressed, observe your emotion, and ask your self, “What am I feeling right now?” Then ask,” How is this feeling causing my body to feel?” you might feel chest tightness, pain, stomach turning. Just observe what these feelings are, and label them by saying “OK so this is what afraid feels like in my body.” Just observe it. You will feel better.
- Observe negative thoughts and choose to postpone them. Do not try to block them or judge them. Just observe them and do not react to them. For example, when you catch yourself thinking negative thought, say to yourself “this is a negative thought and that is OK. let us postpone this thought for later.” Then get yourself busy thinking about something else. or even better: do not think at all.
- Say kind and comforting things to yourself. Navy seals use this technique. Positive self talk. Tell yourself that “everything will be alright.” or “it will be a breeze,” etc.
- Remind yourself about the values that made you travel in the first place: learning, building new opportunities, helping a client, etc. then play the role of the hero again who is on a mission and imagine what you want that hero to be like and act it.
- Make your hotel room feel like home. I remember the toughest moments of travel are getting into the empty hotel room. Unpack fast, take with you something you like from home; favorite slippers, teddy bear, pillow, etc.
- Many cannot sleep while traveling. That makes things even harder. What is funny is that when I stopped worrying about sleeping, I had better sleep. I started going to bed saying “I am going to bed to rest my body. If I sleep that is good, if not at least I rested my body.”
- Get into some daily routines. Things that you usually do at home. Like exercise, meditation, prayer, breakfast, etc.
- Decide to play “Explorer.” Decide to be an explorer for the day. go find things, learn about the neighborhood you are in. What the people look like, the weather, the stores, etc.
There is a lot more I can share in this area. I am planning to put it in a booklet. If you are interested in a copy, drop me a line and I will be happy to send you a complimentary copy.