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Managing Life | 8. Travel and Other Changes of Routine

Managing Life

Just when you think you have a good plan for managing life, with your priorities chosen, your negative self-talk vanquished, and your exercise pattern established, along comes a business trip, vacation or other change of routine! All your good plans are ruined! How do you stay on top of things when they're always changing?

It has been said that there are two rules for life: Life is change, and Change is difficult. We cannot change the nature of life. We cannot eliminate the stress of change, but we can anticipate it and prepare for it where possible. The first thing to realize is that change, even positive change, is always stressful. Anything that requires us to learn something new, or to do something differently, is difficult for us creatures of habit! Consider a few examples. Along with the promotion you wanted, for example, come the new duties you have to learn. A prestigious business trip wreaks havoc with your established routine, not to mention your biological clock! The long-awaited vacation is fraught with unfamiliar foods, unpredictable weather and negotiations with your partner on how to spend the time. Each of the preceding changes is desirable, put presents its own unique challenges for you to confront.

When life is in flux, it can help to know your own change quota and need for stability, so that you can utilize them in planning for and responding to change. If you know that your family members crave travel more than you do, for example, you could plan to spend a relaxing vacation at home while they tour the world. If you need familiarity in your surroundings, even in new locations, then pack some favorite objects to grace your hotel room when you make business trips. Knowing your own need for change or stability is your first line of defense.

When it comes to changing what you're accustomed to, being away from home on business has its own particular stressors. There is the change in daily routine, the absence of your standard support system, and sometimes even the lack of tools with which to get your work done. You may feel less able to get around in unfamiliar surroundings, or may miss your usual forms of recreation. You may have to deal with new people and new challenges all day long while feeling that you're missing out on enjoyable events at home.

Given that business travel serves up these challenges, it can be important to set up your own mobile support network. Bring your exercise clothes with you and find out in advance about exercise facilities so as to maintain as much as possible your fitness routine. Use the hotel staff to help answer questions about where to provision yourself with favorite foods so that you're eating the way you'd like. Spend your spare time with your local hosts if you enjoy doing so, or beg off if you need time to relax. Stay in touch with people at home via e-mail or pre-arranged phone calls so that you don't disrupt your social support system. Bring along a book you've been wanting to read, so you can enjoy a free evening at your hotel. You can't always feel at home while you're on the road, but you can bring a bit of home with you to make the trip more palatable.

Think now about your next business trip or vacation. Considering your own personal travel style and your needs, make a list in your Activity Log of the possible stressors associated with this trip (fatigue, loneliness, change of diet, etc.). For each stressor, write down one remedy you can use to decrease the stress it causes and even add to your enjoyment of the trip.
Print the Activity Log for your use in recording daily activities.

Here are a few tips to keep you on the right track this week.

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