Mental Health, Traveling for Work

9 Mental Health Tips When Traveling for Work

Travel & I have a love-hate relationship. Living in the middle of Wisconsin & working from home, my life can sometimes get monotonous & mundane so I look forward to the times where I can head to a “Big City” for work! I love these trips because I get to put together events, meet new Boutique Hub Members, and see my Hub co-workers, along with Members that I’ve had the pleasure to get to know over the past several years. To get to visit new cities, be exposed to upcoming fashion, and develop friendships all while working for a growing company is truly a blessing that I don’t take for granted.

However, I’ve had to develop coping mechanisms to deal with the anxiety that comes with unfamiliar areas, meeting new people, overstimulation, and time away from home. Again, I truly enjoy traveling, both for work & pleasure, but there are some added obstacles in my way that need to be taken into consideration so I don’t spiral into a depressive episode or be faced with a panic attack. This is just the hand I’ve been dealt, and after all, the sun shines brighter after a dark storm.

1. Mentally prep for the trip

This is often overlooked, but I’ve recently discovered its importance. In the days leading up to my work trip, I always try to add a little extra self-care time. This simply means I make sure to get my daily walk with the dog, read a few chapters from a novel, and get enough sleep. Once I actually begin my travel, I set aside the last 30 minutes of the flight (because airplanes are the only place I seem to watch movies!) to journal about the type of energy I want to have and list out my intentions for the trip. For me, as a Hub employee, it usually means I set the intention to listen, introduce myself to members I’ve never met before, and sloooooowww down (because I’m often in task-completion mode running all over the place like BAM BAM BAM!) For my energy, I concentrate on positivity, gratitude, and openness to everything on the trip.

2. Share your thoughts with your Boutique Besties

Thankfully, the stigma associated with mental health has shifted over the past 10 years for the better. Unfortunately, however, when I was diagnosed with chronic depression & generalized anxiety disorder in 2012, mental health wasn’t as easily discussed. Because I was afraid to discuss my illness (and yes, it IS an illness just like diabetes or high blood pressure), I felt the need to silently suffer instead of owning it and receiving help & understanding from others.* Fortunately, now, our society is more open to mental health so don’t be afraid to share your anxieties with your Boutique Besties! Chances are there is someone else that gets stressed in big cities or has a fear of flying, and perhaps you can share tips and coping mechanisms to help each other.

This is especially important for recovering addicts, as your Boutique Bestie can keep you accountable. If you struggle with an alcohol, drugs, food, or gambling addiction, confide in at least one other person that you trust that can help you to stay away from those temptations.

*Please note – I did not suffer alone, but had a lot of support from a few close friends & my family, specifically my mom, without whom I would not be alive today.

3. Remember this is a work trip, not a vacation

Why are you headed to Market or this conference? To improve your business! If you focus on the fact that you’re there to improve your business & serve your customers, you’ll find it easier to push through the anxiety. Also, even if it seems like everyone else is there for one big party, your market experience doesn’t have to be like that! You do you, boo! 🤩

4. Make a schedule

Speaking of work, it’s good to have a schedule in place to make sure you accomplish all of your goals. Pre-set schedules help me to relax because I know where I need to go and when so I can mentally prep for those events. I also tend to be calmer when organized so these schedules can help the business & my mind! Just don’t forget that it’s okay to change the schedule or pencil in items like “find Boutique Bestie to have dinner with”! Be open to the unknown!

5. Keep your routine

When thinking about a schedule, it’s good to keep in mind the routine you have at home and try to keep your travel schedule as similar as possible. If you start your day with a workout, make sure your hotel has a gym. Try to drink a green smoothie daily? I’m sure you can find one around! Do you sleep best after winding down the evening with a cup of tea & chapter from a novel? Bring your tea packets along & brew hot water using the coffee maker that most hotel rooms have. If you’re intentional with this, it really isn’t that hard!

6. Sleep

This one may be the most important to me, as my Hub co-workers are well aware of!

I. Need. Sleep.

One of the top tips on every mental health tips list is getting the proper amount of sleep every night. I could send you countless articles (here’s my fav podcast about it!) on the health benefits of sleep, but the articles may have you dozing! 😉

Let me just tell you this – anyone who said “you can sleep when you’re dead” may not realize that sleep deprivation shaves years off of your life & prevents brain development! Want to grow your business AND feel good? Sleep!

7. Eat healthy & exercise

Like I referenced before, if you are a fitness junkie, make sure you get your workout in on vacation. If running in August Vegas heat isn’t your style, try to practice some other healthy habits by munching on fruits & veggies and practicing self-control with desserts & alcohol. Just because you’re in Sin City doesn’t mean you have to do shots, order a cheeseburger at 1am, or give in to the cheesecake calling your name.

Again, this is where it’s good to chat with a Boutique Bestie who can be your accountability buddy, especially if you struggle with addiction.

8. Avoid overstimulating yourself

Another one that that’s personal for me is to avoid overstimulating yourself. As a self-diagnosed Highly Sensitive Person, my energy is easily drained after exposure to crowds, bright lights, or lots of noises. The way I combat that is to listen to my body & mind – if I’m feeling drained, I slip off to the bathroom for a breather, grab some extra water, or sit in an area off to the side for a moment. Not into the flashing lights & noises of a casino? I’m sure you’ll find someone who would enjoy sitting out at the pool with you instead! 🙋🏻‍♀️

9. Recover

I know, I know. “Beth, how am I supposed to recover when I have to go back to an understaffed store, a never-ending Inbox, and 10 boxes of new inventory to unpack?!” Woah, slow your roll, sister! If you know there are several things that will be waiting for you when you get back, delegate them to your staff while you’re gone! Give your employees a list of projects to work on – keeping them busy will keep them out of trouble! Idle hands are the devil’s playground, right? 😱

If you jump into those things when your tank is at 10%, you aren’t going to get anywhere. Take the flight & drive home to listen to your favorite music (The Avett Brothers anyone??), grab some 😴, clean up your Inbox (that in-flight WiFi charge is worth it), and jot down notes from the trip. When you get home, again, remember these tips & continue to eat healthily, get enough sleep, drink your 64 oz water/day, and take care of yourself!!

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

And if you every need someone to talk to, my door is always open (except after 9pm because I’ll already be sleeping 😉 )

Beth Leahy
Beth Leahy
[email protected]

Beth is our Director of Operations & Events at The Boutique Hub, and she's almost as passionate about small businesses as she is about helping people. When she isn't working, she's busting out her dance moves, buying more pairs of shoes, and (unsuccessfully) training her energetic golden retriever.