If your job is anything like mine (public sector consulting), the answer all too frequently is yes. To be sure, many of what I consider my best days on the job started at a three-star hotel and ended at an airport, but these professional rewards always seemed to come at the cost of feeling depleted when I returned home. In fact, my struggles to balance business travel were one of the primary reasons why I embarked on my Ayurveda journey last September.
Self-care takes a lot of discipline, and I’m convinced it takes even more while traveling for business. It is during my business trips that I find myself needing to perform at peak capacity while balancing long hours, meals that are packed with processed food, and a seemingly endless to-do list. Add to this the frenzy of airports, the stress of being away from home and the people (or puppies) we love, and…well, I think it’s pretty apparent why business travel can take its toll.
In one of my favorite recent reads, the author suggests developing a ten-item “capsule wardrobe” since an overflowing closet can overwhelm our sense of style. I found the same to be true for business travel. If I try to carry with me all of my self-care habits, nothing sticks. So, recently, I identified my “capsule” self-care habits for business travel – those few things that I absolutely must do, if I do nothing else. Here is my capsule list. I would love to hear about yours!
1. I made space in my suitcase for a travel yoga mat. For years I tried to get away with putting a hotel towel down on the carpet, but when I finally committed to packing my travel mat, my hotel practice became sustainable. I especially love treating myself to a grounding post-travel routine on yogaglo.com. Even a few minutes of movement in the morning pays dividends throughout the day.
2. I stopped burning the midnight oil. Sometimes, last-minute work to prepare for the next day’s meetings is unavoidable. But I find that, especially when I’m “on” all day, I need plenty of time at night to wind down. Recognizing that a good night rest might be the key ingredient to a successful meeting tomorrow (and probably more so than that perfect slide) allows me to be more compassionate with myself and put away the laptop.
3. I started passing on alcohol. It can be oh so hard to forgo that glass of wine, particularly if the itinerary includes social time with clients or my team. For me, it’s usually the right decision, since alcohol exacerbates the feeling of un-grounding brought on by travel, long days, and work pressure.
4. I spoke with my colleagues about self-care. Radical, right? After a recent trip, I asked my team how we could support each other during business travel. It turns out that most of us craved a few minutes of alone time during the day in between back-to-back meetings. This little conversation gave us all permission to take these moments to recharge.
5. I ceremoniously ground when I return home. I find that I need to mindfully reset after returning from a business trip, even if for just a few minutes. I start by forgiving myself for my inevitably imperfect habits. Then, I throw myself a mini welcome home party with meditation, movement, and a scented candle. Making a ceremony out of my grounding routine gives me a special treat to look forward to as a thank you to myself for a job well done.
-- Sarina Rosenberg Asher