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How to give work trips the wellness treatment

Rushing to check in on time and get through security, dealing with chaotic airport scenes, then being cooped up for hours while you prepare for meetings so you can hit the ground running – travelling for work can be stressful all round!

Typically, business travellers sleep less than non-business travellers and even 30 minutes less shut-eye can result in hypertension, anxiety or depression and could put a strain on relationships. If we don’t keep it in check, the travel environment can lead to dehydration, unhealthy eating habits, lack of exercise, exhaustion, illness, burnout and an ugly arm-long list of other conditions.

The good news? As the wellness movement gains momentum, it’s starting to influence the travel sector and more companies are prioritising business traveller satisfaction and happiness. In fact, recent reports claim that the wellness trends is now a $4.2 trillion industry, so you can understand why airports, airlines and travel companies are expanding their wellness offerings.

Here are some recent initiatives that are helping corporate travellers avoid those improper business travel pitfalls and make the most out of your trips.

Pre-flight stress breakers

Before you board, it pays to take a breather and de-stress. Ideally it helps to find a quiet spot where you can have a few minutes to yourself, grab a water to hydrate and clear your mind.

There are now wellness airport lounges being set up as traveller retreats, where you can nap, enjoy healthy food, get a massage, do yoga or shower. By taking the time to chill a little, the spend to gain access could pay off in the days ahead.

Startups like OpenSeed offer an alternative relaxation space, where you can hop into a pod and start a guided meditation. These personal meditation capsules are being rolled out across airports and much like the old massage chair – next time your flight is delayed you can grab a 10-minute meditation in one of the pods and help defuse a stressful moment.

Wellness at 30,000 feet

Meditation has been noted as the fastest-growing wellness activity, so airlines have jumped on board to help their passengers relax as soon as they step on the plane.

Calm is a meditation app specifically aimed at travellers and it helps users manage stress and anxiety. It also has popular ‘Sleep Stories’ that have one aim, which is to help you nod off. American Airlines has partnered with Calm so guests can use the meditation content on the inflight entertainment system.

Headspace is another popular mindfulness app that offers in-flight meditations to sooth nervous flyers. You can download the app, or some airlines that include access to Headspace are Air Canada, Air New Zealand, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Lines, Swiss International Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.

In 2018, Qantas introduced an in-flight meditation video series, ANA also has a wellness app and Hawaiian Airlines has holistic wellness content available through their inflight entertainment system.

In August this year, Virgin Australia launched a new initiative for nervous flyers, which allows guest to self-identify with the airline before they travel. The program is the first of its kind in Australia and is designed to support the health and wellbeing of their passengers and crew.

Those who self-identify with Virgin can expect a personalised email before they travel with tips from expert health and wellness partners. A positive affirmation text message is sent on the day of travel and during the flight they have access to dedicated wellness and meditation inflight entertainment. The cabin crew will also keep an eye out and may pop by with a reassuring smile.

In-flight food is also getting a wellness makeover by many airlines because smart food choices can help you arrive at your destination feeling healthier. Singapore Airlines now offers wellness cuisine in “a bid to disprove the notion that airline food is unpalatable and unhealthy.” Qantas has followed the science to design a menu that slows down and revs up your body clock with the aid of food and also emphasises nutritious foods that improve overall wellbeing.

Turkish Airlines launched ‘Fly Good, Feel Good‘, a program created by the famous Dr Oz, that encourages passengers to drink herbal teas intended to ease indigestion and other travel-related woes and you can eat healthy fare that’s served fresh, rather than frozen and reheated.

Jet lag cures that work for a reason

Wellness strategies before and during your flights are an advantage, but what about after we land, when we need to function for meetings and perform at our best?

We all have our go-to jet lag busters, but the science is out on many of these (sorry, that includes the medicinal Bloody Mary!). Here are some tried and true ways to trick your body into thinking it’s business as usual.

Exposure to natural light is top of the list for resetting your body clock and lessening the effects of jet lag, according to the regarded science journey Nature, “Most research suggests that light exposure is by far the most important determinant of rhythms driven by the suprachiasmatic nucleus [your brain’s central timekeeper].”

Notice that we bolded ‘natural’? That’s because the colour of the light matters. Blue light is everywhere, in digital screens, fluorescent lightbulbs and LEDs, and it can detrimentally affect your body’s light sensors, which influence the timing of your circadian rhythm. Red light, however, is less likely to disturb your sense of time, so one solution is to pack a red or orange night light and switch it on in the hotel room with other lights off for a few hours before you go to sleep. Limiting screen time before bed, or at least using the night setting, can help too.

A hot bath can re-set your body clock as well, but why? You are more likely to fall asleep with a slight drop in body temperature. Therefore, a couple of hours before bed you want to raise your temperature, by exercise, a sauna or hot bath – these are all more effective than a shower. Then set the hotel room temperature to 15-19 degrees celsius and hey presto, your body temperature should drop and sleep should come more easily!

Incorporating wellness into your travel regime has so many positives that will benefit you and your company. Sometime it’s the little tweaks that can have a big impact, like swapping the French fries for a fresh salad, or a well-thought out itinerary and accommodation choices that can improve the overall success of your trip.