Passport, a toothbrush and emotional skills – three business travel essentials. Business travel is challenging both physically and mentally. The work requires emotional skills which, according to psychotherapist Maaret Kallio, are not a given for everyone. If negative emotions are left undealt with, they create a snowball effect that grows and grows.
“It is important to accept all emotions. Even negative ones. If you try to deny your emotions, you will only make them bigger while creating even more problems. Difficult emotions that are not dealt with will often also manifest as somatic bodily symptoms or sleep disorders. Sometimes people without the necessary skills try to be exceedingly positive and grateful when they speak and never bring out their negative emotions”.
Emotional skills start with acceptance
According to Maaret Kallio, the first step in dealing with an emotion is to accept it. An international position that involves lots of travel and being away from your close ones is bound to evoke negative emotions as well – no matter how rewarding the work is. Many people with families feel guilty about not being at home, taking care of their home and children. Some feel very homesick when they are separated from their family. For others, the worst part is the loneliness: when you have no one to sit next to and watch TV with after your workday.
“All of these emotions are perfectly normal reactions to work that takes you away from your everyday routines, the comfort of your home and the people you love. The most important thing for your own well-being is to identify and accept your own emotions”, Kallio explains.
Treat your emotion sensibly
Even if your work is mentally tasking at times, you can treat your emotions. Your emotional skills determine whether your own actions reduce or increase the negative feelings, Maaret Kallio adds:
“Many people lack the skills to deal with negative emotions and, instead, try to repress them with alcohol, for example, which is a bad decision for health alone. Some may try to escape the feeling of guilt by working hard round the clock. You should listen to and soothe your difficult emotions rather than try to silence or escape them.”
Self-awareness plays a significant role in treating emotions. You should think carefully how you can help yourself calm down and strengthen the good feelings. For some, it might be a warm bath while listening to music or a 10 kilometre run after the workday. Kallio advises that you should plan your business trip with the same principles as a leisure trip – try to find interesting sights to visit, recreational opportunities or local dishes worth tasting at the destination, for example. Focus on your own well-being when you have free time during your trip.