Suffering a stress-induced headache while traveling for business is a crippling malady ill-afforded with so much at stake during a short window of time.
There are several wellness strategies that can help beat back this unfortunate occurrence, however.
According to John Ayo, a travel health speaker, naturopath, former meeting planner and proprietor of travel health website Travel Balance, road warriors can arm themselves with relatively simple precautions and remedies that will get them back to feeling at the top of their game.
Photo: John Ayo, Travel Balance
“That’s kind of the heart of my travel message: How do we reduce stress when we can, because when stress goes up, the immune system goes down,” Ayo said. “When you travel there’s a whole lot of additional stressors you can control.”
Ayo said that the body’s adrenal glands are a key to managing stress. The adrenal glands, which sit on top of each kidney, create the hormone cortisol, which helps manage stress.
“Today we’re in a 24/7 attack,” Ayo said. “Our adrenals are stressed out and they can’t respond, and that leads to side effects such as stress attacks.”
Besides headaches, Ayo said that stress can also contribute to chronic digestive problems, irritable bowel syndrome, gas, bloating, acid reflux, sleep deprivation and anxiety—all things best not to pack when traveling for business.
[Related: Essential De-Stressing Tips for Meeting Planners]
Fighting Stress on the Road
Ayo offered the following advice for combatting stress-related headaches while traveling:
Reduce stress using mindfulness techniques or apps.
Optimize your vitamin D intake by making sure you expose your skin to the sun for at least 20 minutes a day. UV rays from the sun convert cholesterol to a hormone called vitamin D and boosts the immune system, which is why viruses typically spread in winter (less sunlight). We tend to be chronically deficient in vitamin D, so it may be wise to supplement with a good D3 supplement if you live in a low-sun region.
Exposure to the sun’s rays also increases the production of vitamin D, which fights headaches and also boosts the immune system, which is why viruses typically spread in winter.
Use essential oils such as peppermint and ginger by smelling them or putting them on the back of your neck. Both of these essential oils are great stress-reducers, according to Ayo.
Soak in a bath of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate). Human bodies are chronically deficient in magnesium sulfate, which offers calming properties.
Food choices and knowing your sensitivities are also important. Many people are sensitive to gluten, dairy, eggs, artificial sweeteners (like those found in diet sodas) and MSG, or monosodium glutamate. Evaluate what you’re eating and drinking and try to determine what is causing your headaches.
Drink a lot of filtered water. Proper hydration is always key to maintaining optimal health.
Close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing.
If you’re in a place that offers herbal teas, such as a hotel, try drinking peppermint tea, which is a natural stress-reducer.
“Sometimes you don’t have a lot of choices when you’re on the road, so you have to plan ahead,” Ayo advised, adding that most destinations will have stores that offer homeopathic remedies.
“Everything is the same, whether I have a headache in my office or traveling,” he summed up. “There’s just more stressors on the road.”
Read next: What to Do If You’re Becoming Ill on the Road