Anxiety and Business Travel

Recently I have been feeling higher levels of anxiety. How have you been feeling? This is nothing unusual for me, is it unusual for you? It’s not all related to travel.

Travel is back, but to me it feels different. It feels more stressful, and it feels like there is a lot to be worried about. The news of cancellations of flights, the cost of living increases, the public tensions and the constant bombardment of negative news, little surprise as travellers we are feeling a little overwhelmed.

In 2019 whilst I was working with Agiito (previously Capita Travel & Events) we came up with over 100 sources of anxiety for travellers (covering all services, and life related anxiety of travelling). Little did we envisage the changes and increase in health anxieties, and the rise of travel wellbeing further up the corporate agenda. We hoped to see travel wellbeing with a greater focus, little did we foresee the impact that 2020 would have to our anxiety levels.

Over the past 2.5 years our anxiety has changed. The mass triggering of our anxiety in early 2020 has created a lasting impact, and we need to understand how this will impact us into the future. It is projected that up to 10 million adults will struggle with the mental health impact of the pandemic.

Recently I have been back travelling for work, I have been on a few flights, and stayed in hotels again (something I didn’t think I would be doing again anytime soon). How did I feel? Truthfully I felt the anxiety of travelling starting to well up inside me.

Just before we look at how to change or challenge our anxiety, let’s remind ourselves of what anxiety is: Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. Our anxiety is triggered by perceived threats, and once triggered we can experience negative and catastrophising thoughts.

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe

During Covid we learned more about catastrophising thoughts as we were searching for answers with very limited information.  We were instructed on the risks of being around others, to stay at home, to save lives. Little wonder it has been a challenge for us to repackage our anxiety to safer levels.

How can we spin our anxiety to be more positive about our travel experiences? The key to managing down the anxiety is through providing clear information and communications around travel.  Here are a few suggestions to help manage traveller anxiety:

  • Increase/implement relevant and clear traveller communications
  • Remind travellers of the support available for them whilst travelling
  • Provide clear summaries of the trip in advance and emergency support
  • Provide assistance for disruptions or cancellations
  • Give a reminder of personal health support (both physical and mental) and internal support systems available
  • Encourage positive wellbeing behaviours when travelling (switching off from work, taking time to destress, getting good quality sleep)
  • Manage expectations to include post-trip recovery
  • Encourage Managers to check-in with their travellers, pre-, during- and post-trip, and to truly check how they are feeling
  • Talk openly about the anxieties that travel can create, and provide acknowledgement that these anxieties are real to those who are struggling

We all have our own ways to manage our anxiety, but firstly we need to have self-awareness, when we feel anxious or overwhelmed we need to have support, we need to talk about our feelings. If we are able to be open (and feel confident that those we are talking to are there to support us), we can really start to change our journey with mental health.

I hope you find this useful. If you are struggling know that you are not alone and millions of people struggle with anxiety today. I personally have struggled (and continue to) with anxiety. The difference now is that I am aware and work hard to manage down my heightened feelings.

Please do feel free to get in touch if you would like to discuss the above, or you would like help with managing mental health and wellbeing within your travel programme today. You can contact us on: simpila@simpila.com

Travel safe and well

Matt

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