Money & Business

How Business Travel Can Affect Mental Health

By / Dec 6, 2019 (Marjan_Apostolovic/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

According to a recent survey, roughly a fifth of business travelers experienced some sort of mental impact caused by business travel. It may not affect everyone, but underlying changes can help.

Bleisure aside, business travel comes with a lot of stress points.

There’s the airport or the train station; there’s the headache of finding your hotels; and then there’s the fact that you’re taken out of your routine, leading to questionable eating choices and time away from loved ones.

A recent study from YouGov and NexTravel found that more 22 percent of  survey respondents said that business travel had some kind of impact on their mental health.

And speaking to Skift, medical assistance organization International SOS noted 40 percent of its calls were related to mental health. Dr. Robert Quigley, a senior vice president and regional medical director for the organization, said there was a “progressive, almost logarithmic increase in the number of calls” related to behavioral health.

Here are some considerations to keep in mind when it comes to business travel and mental health:

The more business trips you take, the more likely that stress-related issues may appear. A study last year from Columbia University noted that issues of insomnia, anxiety, and alcohol dependence were common among frequent business travelers. “Poor behavioral and mental health outcomes significantly increased as the number of nights away from home for business travel rose,” the university said about the report, which ran in the ‌Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine [subscription].

On the other hand, you may love business trips. If you are in the right mindset for business travel, you might just love it. Dr. Malini Saba, the founder of Saba Industries and Saba Family Foundations, says that changing things up occasionally can help break up the routine in positive ways. Plus, it can offer a travel opportunity when you might not otherwise be able to afford one. “After working for months in the same place with the same kind of people and the same environment, it is normal to crave for something different that breaks the monotony,” Saba wrote for Express Healthcare.

But either way, you may need to change your organization’s support systems. International SOS’ Quigley says that organizations need to understand that the issue is growing in nature and that it can affect any level of an organization—and that their offerings need to adapt accordingly. “Companies need to understand that this is an epidemic,“ he told Skift. “It’s impacting all of us. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a senior vice president or a COO, or whether you’re somebody on the frontline, nobody’s immune. And so they need to first and foremost talk about it. They need to openly talk about it. They need to provide resources to HR, benefits, the Employee Assistance Program, medical assist programs, and they need to educate everybody.”

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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