Senior leaders understand the connection between their wellbeing and their ability to perform at their best. It’s a given that they keep in peak physical fitness to allow them to be agile and sharp in the boardroom. For many of my senior clients, international travel is part of their lifestyle so I’m often asked how can I stay healthy on the road?
It’s certainly a bigger challenge when you’re not in your usual routine. Healthy food choices become more limited, drinking alcohol is often expected as deals are made over dinner, exercise becomes harder to fit in and sleep patterns are disturbed as you cross multiple time zones.
Here are some of my top travel tips to help you stay healthy on the road.
1. Banish jetlag for a great night’s sleep.
Your body naturally produces a hormone called melatonin at night to help you sleep but, when you are jet lagged, melatonin is being produced at a different time of the day and not at night when you need it. It is possible to buy melatonin in tablet form, and I use this for naturally produced hormone for two nights when I change time zones. It really helps to get me straight back into a natural sleep rhythm, completely reducing jet lag and making international travel a breeze. If you live in the UK you will have to buy it online or when you travel overseas in countries such as the USA, Canada, Hong Kong or Singapore. My favourite is a dual release product that I stock up on in Hong Kong airport whenever I pass through. Melatonin isn’t suited to everyone so if you have a pre-existing condition check with your health professional first.
2. Snack on foods that boost energy.
When you’re travelling you can often have longer than usual gaps between meals and food may be low-grade quality (a fast food breakfast grabbed at the airport or an indistinguishable airline meal). Your blood sugar levels can quickly be thrown out of balance with an instant impact on your mood and energy levels. A simple solution (as long as you’re not allergic to nuts) is to keep a bag of almonds in your hand luggage – as soon as you notice your blood sugar dip eat a handful of almonds that are high in protein and slowly release energy. This will stop you reaching for caffeine and sugar to perk you up. Also, when you are able to choose your food, include some protein at every meal to maintain your blood sugar levels throughout the day.
3. Build your immune system to fight off potential illnesses.
While you’re travelling you are exposed to different strains of illnesses that don’t exist in your home country, so keeping your immune system in tiptop condition is key. It’s helpful to focus on building your immune health before you travel – good gut health supports immunity, and taking probiotics before, during and after your travels can help build and protect your gut. Another good immune booster is colloidal silver, a natural antibiotic liquid, which is an old remedy that has been revived more recently and has many uses. You will read lots in favour and against its use; I’ll leave it to you to make your own mind up!
4. Keep mozzies at bay the healthy way.
The active chemical in many anti mosquito products is a chemical called DEET. If you pour DEET onto plastic it warps and melts it – this is not something to be spraying on your skin! If you are travelling to a location where mosquitos are part of the landscape, I recommend you use a natural mosquito repellent with a citronella and lemongrass base which contains no harmful chemicals to keep the bugs at bay.
5. Stay hydrated.
Keeping hydrated is one of those things we all know about but can be easy to skip on. Flying seems to literally suck the water out of your cells, as you’re made of 70% water (your brain even more) as soon as your cells become dehydrated they become stressed and try and hold onto any remaining water in the system. This can result in instant headaches, brain fog, irritability, tiredness and swollen ankles. If you have any of these symptoms when you travel, reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake and increase your water intake.
6. Invest in no-noise headphones.
Finally one of my sanity savers when I travel is noise-cancelling headphones. They block out the background drone of the aircraft making a long haul flight all the more enjoyable and peaceful!