After ten days in the USA (part conference, part holiday) I returned back to Australia yesterday. When you run your own business, recovering from jet lag over several days is just not an option. I need to be back on deck and 110% on my game by tomorrow.
So how do I banish Jet Lag?
Firstly, assuming you won’t suffer from jet lag is really not a great strategy. Whilst there are some frequent long haul travellers who have their routines down pat, I am not a frequent long haul traveller. So the following 5 tips saved my arse when I returned home recently.
- Flight timing is everything. Before we left and I was in charge of planning our trip, I made the decision to leave San Francisco on Thursday night which meant getting home to Ballarat on Saturday. We lost Friday in the time zone mayhem. I wanted to have one “rest day” (Sunday) before heading back to work. That extra day is everything. It lets me relax, get back into the time zone, assess what needs to be done around the house, wash the entire contents of my suitcase and ease my way back into life. Without that day, stress sets in and jet lag becomes a much bigger issue.
2. Be Prepared. I think I was a girl guide for about one year and didn’t love it, but the motto “be prepared” comes in handy so many times. Before I left to go away to the USA I fully over-stocked the house in supplies. I didn’t want to have to come home and find out we had no toilet paper, or no bread, or anything we could quickly whip together for dinner. I cooked an extra batch of meals before I left and put them in the freezer. Then in my exhausted state, we could all have a decent meal on the night we got home without any stress, arguments or trips to the supermarket.
3. Get some sleep. I know it sounds obvious as you come home exhausted from all the flights/buses/ubers it took you to make it back home. However, the timing of your sleep is everything. I chose to forgo meals on the plane and instead put my do not disturb sign on and slept. When we got back to our house in Ballarat I stayed awake (well tried to) until after dinner time. I ate dinner with the kids, put them to bed and I was in bed by 7:15pm. I could have stayed up all night clearing my inbox, but instead I chose sleep and was out like a light. Having a full nights sleep when my body should be sleeping meant I woke up this morning at 6am ready to tackle the day.
4. Slow Cooker is your BFF. Seeing as though I was up early today, I am making the most of my time before I hit the wall. I don’t want to be in the kitchen all day and know that even though I feel OK today, I might be tired tonight and also tomorrow with a full schedule of work in my diary. So I turn to my slow cooker. A double batch of bolognese can bubble away with about 30 seconds of care from me. I also made a Donna Hay banana bread (yep packet mix to the rescue) and put Lenard’s mini chicken strudels in the oven. Eating take away because I am tired will not help with the jet lag so I try to have things I can cook in bulk to last me the next two days.
5. Take the pressure off. When you run your own business, there is always something to do. Emails to respond to, appointments to prepare for, blogs to write, admin to take care of and god only knows what else. Whilst I know all of these things are important, doing them half arsed because of jet lag is helping nobody. So as soon as I knew I had the overseas trip booked, I also blocked out chunks of my diary for the week of my return. I have plenty of work to do, but I want to be in charge of my diary in case I was tired, or in case I was up at 6am and wanted to knock off at 2pm. Taking the pressure off my day helps with my mindset and also my productivity.
So there you have it, some pretty simple things to consider to recover from jet lag next time you travel on a long haul flight. I know it is not easy, and I know the exhaustion sets in pretty quick when you return. So don’t put pressure on yourselves to return to work 5 minutes after you get home. Allow some time to get back into the swing of things and into your normal routine.