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Lessons From the Field: How To Avoid Business Travel Depression

Dec 22, 2021

As a land professionals, you know being a road warrior isn’t for the faint of heart. Even if you love your job, travelling year-round can cause strain on your life and health. Add in the complexities of missing special events and family-focused holidays and you have a recipe for disaster. Intentionally managing the way you care for yourself can help you stave off business travel depression. 

We recently interviewed a panel of current and past land pros to better understand how they managed the most frequent challenges they ran into with their mental health. Here’s what we learned…

Whether it’s people that you interact with on the job or people at the bar after you get your work done, making time to build relationships a little bit every day is an important part of staving away loneliness. In fact, people who invest time in relationships not only feel better, but Harvard researchers find that they live longer, too. 

NOTES FROM A LAND PRO: “When I’m on a job, I’m genuinely surprised at how many people working together don’t make any effort to get to know one another. Take a moment to invite someone you know out for a drink. Go for a jog, or play golf; whatever it takes to start making connections outside of your hotel remote control.”

Of course, making new friends isn’t just a land pro problem, it’s an “adult problem.” Fortunately, there are couple of ways to help make this process easier: 

  • Identify places where you have connections with people that you enjoy. Ask yourself, “who are the valuable people in my network?” 
  • Deepen your casual connections. If you have an acquaintance at work that you have pleasant conversations with, invest in that relationship more. Start by sharing little things about yourself that you enjoy and let the connection flow. 
  • Push away the feelings of awkwardness. Yes, it’s scary to put yourself out there, but remember that that is a short term problem for potentially long term gain. 
  • You don’t have to have to make a ton of friends, just a few good ones. In truth, adults don’t have a ton of extra time or energy to build a big group of new friends. You really just need a few to help you stay open and connected with the people around you. 

Sometimes friends are around for a season. It’s ok if you don’t make a lifelong friend, but starting somewhere is better than spending the majority of your time alone.

Yes, it’s important to make new friends, but it’s also important to maintain existing relationships. Travelling can leave partners, friends, and family feeling neglected, bitter, and resentful of your travelling. Even when you are able to get home there are still chores to do, homework to help complete, and groceries to put away. Ensuring you’re able to be present for the mundane little things along with significant events like birthdays or anniversaries is a key part to feeling connected to your home life and can help you avoid business travel depression. 

NOTES FROM A LAND PRO: “It’s not easy being away from home for weeks at a time. Sometimes I would drive hundreds of miles on a Friday so I could wake up at home on Saturday morning. And when I got home, I needed to make sure to get my ‘adulting’ done as well as find ways to see people I enjoy being around.”

If you or someone you love frequently travels for work, here’s a few tips on how to make it work:

  • Remind your loved ones that travelling isn’t glamorous. It might be nice to have an uninterrupted meal, but the flip side is that every meal with a client is work. 
  • Make time to talk every day. Spending 10 quality minutes with your loved ones can keep you in touch with day-to-day routines, exciting moments, and the life that waits for you at home.
  • Leverage distance to make your relationship stronger. Some couples do better with distance. Discuss some of the benefits of being apart.

You might be far away from home, but you don’t have to live without the things you enjoy. On one hand, you need down time to recharge. On the other hand, you’re focused on serving your customer (be it the organization you’re working for or the landowner). Taking time in between to do something that reminds you of home can help you feel more balanced overall.

NOTES FROM A LAND PRO: “Sometimes I’ll shoot some bow, or go for hikes. But wherever I go, I’m always focused on staying within cell phone range so the landowner can reach me. I’m always on their time.”

Truckers, the ultimate road warriors, run into similar challenges that land agents do. In this list, they offer a few helpful tips for bringing your hobbies with you: 

  • Find good podcasts to relax to. Learn about something new or dive deeply into something you’re passionate about. There are over two million podcasts available. You can use podcast platforms on your phone like Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Audible, or Stitcher. 
  • Pack something creative. Whether it’s tying flies for fishing, carving, or something more traditional like painting, creativity can lower stress and anxiety. 
  • Document your trips. Have someone at home you want to stay connected with? Revive old-school letter writing with postcards or with full-sized paper. People love getting things in the mail and you might even make a memory. 

Explore your surroundings. Much like our land pro above, you might need to be careful to stay in cell phone range, but catch a museum, or take a hike. Just make sure someone knows where you are in case something goes wrong.

Did you know that there are 30-40 million business travellers in the US alone? Of course, because travel can increase a person’s physical stress load, business travel can come with some health concerns. When you travel, you need to contend with uncomfortable beds, mediocre food, and terrible local TV. Does it help to know you’re not alone?

NOTES FROM A LAND PRO: “When you’re on site for long periods of time, it’s easy to forget to move your body. There were a couple of guys I knew who would walk three to four miles a day in the evening to help them feel better.”

Here are a few ways you can help stay sharp and feel physically better while also pushing away depression: 

  • Eat right. It’s easy to order a salt-filled comfort meal when you’re away, but those types of calories add up. Eating a diet with fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of depression from 11-14%. Start simple: Just swap the fries for a salad to start. 
  • Move your body. You’re driving, you’re in an office, you’re meeting with a landowner; that’s a lot of sitting. Moving your body can help release endorphins that make you feel like a million bucks, according to this fancy Harvard article.
  • Take your meds. If you take medication, create a habit of putting your medication in a familiar place so that you remember to take them. All the better if you take them at the same time to ensure that they’re effective (per the FDA). 
  • Take some time to clear your mind. Regardless of your thoughts about meditation, it’s an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety. There are plenty of apps that you can download to your phone to help make it easier. Also? It doesn’t have to take a long time. Even 10-13 minutes can make an impact on your mental health.

To Summarize

The best way to avoid business travel depression as a land agent is to get ahead of it. By taking care of yourself, you’ll be sharper on the job and the transition back home will be easier as well. 

Get more tips like these on our live, free webinars by becoming a member at Part & Parcel. It’s free and it’s designed to help you become more marketable. Whether that’s taking care of your health or writing a better resume, we’ve got you covered.