Work-life balance when traveling: Switch off after a stressful day
In today's fast-paced business world, many people are constantly traveling for work, and while there are many benefits associated with business travel, it can be difficult to balance professional obligations and personal life. Business travel has become an integral part of many professions and offers the opportunity to socialize, develop professionally and exchange ideas with others as well as broaden one's horizons. However, maintaining a healthy work-life balance while traveling can be a difficult task, especially when you are away from home, loved ones and your usual routines.
The challenge of work-life balance on business trips.
Maintaining a balance between a lot of new things and in a context of often a lot of overtime and particularly irregular working hours on the road is not easy. The concept of work-life balance aims precisely at this challenge of maintaining a harmonious balance between professional obligations and personal well-being. What is already not easy at home can become a real problem in the constantly changing, demanding environment of business trips, where familiar contacts are missing on top of everything else. In everyday life at home, the necessary balance after a strenuous day at work is often found in conversation with friends, in the circle of family or in regular hobbies and sports.
All of this is difficult in an unfamiliar environment. Often, the only people you are familiar with on a business trip are your own work colleagues and the clients you work with. If you spend time after work with these people, it becomes difficult not to keep your mind on your work even at the end of the day and constantly discuss important matters. In addition, business travelers may face expectations from their professional environment to be constantly available, even though this may go unspoken.
While such working conditions are an inherent part of business travel, they can affect mental and physical well-being, as well as put a strain on relationships with family and friends. Fortunately, there are a few tweaks you can make in your personal life as well as in your work environment to make business travel productive but also enjoyable, and to provide some much-needed rest in between.
Communicate boundaries clearly
In the context of work-life balance, boundaries are often the most important issue. On your first work trip, it's normal to still be unclear about what is and isn't feasible for you. Over time, however, you'll figure out what you need to function well on a sustained basis in the demanding and often stressful context of business travel. Admit these personal limits to yourself and don't compare yourself to colleagues who are available day and night. Instead, it's helpful to clearly communicate what is and is not feasible for you.
Work hours and accessibility are often key issues, and clarifying them can help clarify expectations and give yourself some breathing room for needed relaxation and rest. Once your business meetings are over for the day, make a conscious effort to turn off your work-related devices and mentally engage with something else. Realize that time off at the end of the day is well deserved, and you can only be truly productive the next day after a good recovery period in which you can bring your stress levels down. It can be helpful to resort to a daily ritual for this, such as a short walk or meditation, to ring in the end of the workday.
Those who suffer from an overload of tasks should try to delegate some of them to colleagues. A good team is worth its weight in gold in this regard and can support you even from a distance with small reliefs. Communication and trust in the ability of others can make a big difference to the work. However, if the demands are too high, sometimes a clear no is necessary. Be realistic about your time and capacity, and be selective about the commitments you make to avoid overextending yourself.
Switch off after business meetings
One of the key elements to maintaining work-life balance while traveling is the ability to properly wind down after a busy day of business meetings. All too often, business travelers take the stress of work back to their hotel room, which impacts their ability to relax and unwind.
There are many helpers for targeted relaxation during stressful periods of life. Autogenic training can be just as effective here as meditation techniques, yoga or sports routines. Particularly for people who tend to work more intellectually in their everyday professional lives, physical compensation after work is often very beneficial. Whether it's jogging, swimming or going to the gym, this is where happy hormones are emitted and the time spent exercising helps you transition from one world of thought to another. Those who are physically exhausted also eat and sleep better.
If you have to be in top form all day as a top performer, you often also run the risk of being particularly demanding of your own performance in your free time and cramming your after-work hours full of appointments and activities. However, the many new inputs on a business trip, the professional challenges as well as the effort of adapting to an unfamiliar environment demand a lot of energy and your body has an increased need for sleep in this environment. Therefore, getting a good night's rest should be an absolute priority on business trips, and it's imperative that it's trouble-free and restorative.
Make the most of the trip: Experience new things
Part of switching off after business meetings is breaking out of the world of the familiar and getting to grips with the new and different at the destination and letting yourself be enriched by it. If the business trip goes to distant places that are perceived as exotic and different, this may be easier than a trip to a small German town. However, you can make small, beautiful discoveries everywhere if you open yourself to the new and consciously take time to experience something in addition to your work at the destination.
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Opportunities to broaden one's horizons in connection with a business trip can be found, for example, in the exploration of local cuisine or tourist experiences such as guided tours or museum visits. Meanwhile, you can often find off-the-beaten-path and surprising offers of courses and experiences at all kinds of destinations online. If you allow yourself to be guided by healthy curiosity, are open-minded and sometimes leave your own comfort zone, you can experience real enrichment here. Take a look at the event calendar at your destination, maybe there is a concert or theater performance for you too!?
Time spent outdoors can be especially restorative on weekends and longer business trips. For example, a scenic drive by car or on an excursion boat is a great way to spend time. When looking for worthwhile excursion destinations and experiences, you can often draw on the experiences of local colleagues or customers, who are sure to be pleased with the interest in their hometown and happy to make recommendations.
Finding a healthy balance between your personal life and work is never easy, because at every stage of life and for every person, it varies individually. No matter how many hours you've worked and how many meetings you've shined in, after work is done, unwinding and relaxing are the essence of a successful trip. If you set clear boundaries, follow some of our relaxation tips for business travelers and experience something new every now and then, the trip will quickly become a success and you can already look forward to the next assignment!