As I’m writing – It’s that time of year again! Airports and roadways will soon be humming with exponentially even more people as the holidays draw nigh.
If you just felt a grimace, pang or groan – or rolled your eyeballs thinking about it… Take heed!
Travel – and travel stress – presents an incredible opportunity for growth.
Now you may be thinking: “You mad, lady?! I spend every week on planes and now have to deal with over-congestion of airport amateurs and slow-movers and crying babies and kids and strollers – everywhere?! And don’t even get me started on the delays and cascade of weather effects… It’s horrendous!”
Delays. Cancellations. Congestion. Getting stuck. Missed meetings and personal events. They will happen – it’s inevitable.
So what are you going to do when it happens again?
Check out our practice to triumph over travel stress!
It’s not easy, but it’s worth the effort. Your peace and wellbeing depend on it.
First things first: Notice what’s going on in your mind.
If just thinking about travel woes turns your tummy, there’s a good chance your mind goes into over-drive during stressful travel situations.
This presents a unique opportunity – in the moment – to witness what’s going on inside you and prevent it from controlling you.
- Is your mind judging or criticizing other travelers, creating heightened internal frustration (“my god, move faster! have they never flown before?! Stop dawdling people!”)
- Is your mind trying to control the situation (“I can’t believe it. This. is. NOT. happening!! No way.”)
- Is your frustration escalating to agitation and anger, fueled by your mind?
Whatever is happening, your first step is to pause and notice.
Next: Decide what you’re going to do with it.
So you’ve noticed your mind is on hyper-drive and working to hijack your emotions and experience, Congrats!
Now it’s time to do the only true logical thing: Drop the fight and refuse to feed it. (i.e. Drop the mental fight)
You have one of two choices in this moment:
1) Indulge your mind in the continued fight against reality and fuel increased frustration and stress
2) Consciously choose to ‘relax’ and to not feed that fight. Choose to ‘drop it’ through acceptance.
Acceptance doesn’t mean you have to think whatever is happening is ‘good’. Acceptance means only that you accept: This is Reality. It is what it is. Here we go again!
- Can you acknowledge that most of the time, things don’t go as you want or expect?
- Can you accept that things aren’t going as you’d planned?
- Remember that worrying about people or things outside your actual control is wasted energy and undue stress.
‘Fighting’ an unexpected or unpleasant situation with spiraling negative thought leads only to your own personal hell. You can decide to fight it, or you can choose to take a deep breath, refocus your attention and be productive – either way, it’s always your choice!
Get perspective for productivity through presence: Here and Now.
So you’ve decided to not let your mind run rampant and to consciously attend to what’s going on.
With focused attention, now ask yourself: “Is there something I need to do – or can do – to help this situation, right now?”
- Can you look at this moment differently?
- Where or with whom can you be more present? Does someone else need help?
- What opportunities exist, now, for you to do something productive?
Consider this situation one ‘test’ of many – an opportunity for you to learn to accept reality and to “Be here Now”. And as an old boss of mine would always say: “Do what you need to do.”
The Ultimate: Find contentment and joy in the moment – no matter the disruption
Once you get the hang of this, someday you may hear yourself laugh – not groan – when the inevitable disruptions occur. After all, you knew this opportunity would return, like an old friend. What can you do, but laugh – or smile?!
Positive ways to pass the time at the airport during travel disruption (AKA making lemonade):
- Go WALK. Seize the opportunity to snag more steps and get moving. Bonus: build core and arm strength while wheeling around your stuff (do switch arms)! Remember laps over lounge! Always walk ‘a lap’ or more before hitting the executive lounge.
- Be present with someone. Engage in a conversation for the sake of conversation – with no agenda other than practicing really ‘being there’.
- Make and take or reschedule calls as you need.
Some of the most enriching conversations I’ve had – and the most fascinating people I’ve met – were at airports or on airplanes, when I’ve been open to being present and not wrapped up in the madness of my mind.
4-steps to beat stress, Summary:
- Breathe Deep*, Notice and observe your mind.
- Breathe Deep*, Drop the fight.
- Reexamine, reframe for productivity.
- Find contentment, even joy.
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Eat Clean + Breathe Deep + Move Often = Never Settle™