Business travel linked to bad mental health

If you’re traveling for work, keep an eye on your mental health!

A recent study found those who travel two weeks or more per month are more likely than those who travel less than that to suffer from anxiety and depression. Additionally, they’re more likely to drink too much, smoke, be sedentary, and have sleep problems.

And the more you travel for work, the worse the symptoms tend to get.

Previous studies have shown that business trips are associated with obesity and high blood pressure, so these mental and behavioral health findings are not surprising.

The researchers recommend both the traveler and his or her employer take proactive steps to maintain physical and mental health with a heavy travel schedule. Employers should work to develop a company culture that promotes healthy business travel. They should educate their employees about the risks of travel and how to stay healthy while doing so. Because diet and exercise are so important to mental health and so easily neglected while traveling, employers should make sure employees are staying at hotels with gyms and that they have access to healthy food options.

As for you travelers, I found some tips that could help:

  1. Stay somewhere with a kitchenette so you can prepare your own healthy meals — at least breakfasts and lunches. Even without the kitchenette you can keep some healthy staples on hand.
  2. Research restaurants near your hotel that offer lower calorie menu items.
  3. Make sleep a priority.
  4. Research fitness options near your hotel. Either keep up your routine — find nearby yoga or crossfit studios, for example — or try something new.
  5. Pack healthy snacks.
  6. Walk every day.
  7. Research bike options — many cities have easy bike rentals available.

It’s so easy to neglect your health — both physical and mental — while traveling. If you have to travel a lot, learn to stop seeing trips as a chance to take a break from your normal healthy habits. You can do it!

Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Mental Health Solutions, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults. Information in this blog is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider about decisions regarding your health.

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