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Keeping Cool: Managing Business Trip Stress

Frank Gillingham, MD

A trip to Miami for a week on South Beach can be a terrific vacation. A trip to Miami to meet customers or prospective partners can be utter misery. Business trips are by their nature very important and business travelers often feel that their quarterly sales number, annual review, and even bonus are on the line. Add the inevitable flight delays, the clueless or dangerous taxi driver, and the annoying chores like collecting expense account receipts and it's pretty clear why business travel can be so stressful and unpleasant.

The most common symptoms of stress that business travelers report are fatigue, aching limbs, loss of sense of humor, paranoia, memory loss, hyperactivity and weeping. Obviously the success of your meeting depends on you managing these symptoms!

Remember that fear of flying is extremely common and for some travelers accounts for much of the stress of business travel.

The Fear of Flying Clinic reports that one in eight Americans deliberately avoids commercial air travel due to this fear. There are many others who simply hold onto the airplane armrests so tight their knuckles turn white. While some degree of fear is perfectly natural, if it impacts on routine trips or if you find yourself driving long distances or avoiding travel altogether, consider discussing it with your doctor or seeking out other resources. The FOFC is a good place to start.

Feelings of stress that are severe or persistent, or that interfere with your everyday life, may constitute a medical anxiety disorder that should be evaluated professionally. Consider discussing your situation with an internist, family physician or general practitioner—a referral to a clinical psychologist or other therapist may be warranted. Anxiety disorders are extremely common and fortunately, there are excellent medications and non-pharmacological treatments available.

Here are some specific tips for managing stress on business trips: