Thursday, July 24, 2014

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 KW, Community Member, asks

Q: Traveling for work, causes increase in my MS symptoms.

I have found that anxiety and stress cause me to have exacerbations of my MS symptoms. Traveling (driving in unknown areas, trying to find my way around) cause these feelings. My jobs is requiring me to do some traveling. What should I do?

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Answers (2)
Vicki, Health Guide
7/29/10 1:04am

Hi KW,

This is an anxiety attack in the making. The simple thing is to practice stress management. I would pull over to the curb where you can, close your eyes and practice deep breathing. You learn a stress management technique that works for you.

 

Travel with the luxury of time and taxis, good weather and pleasant company, is often stressful, and stress affects MS. In this case, MS symptoms are exacerbated.

 

If you are looking for streets and street numbers in a strange place after a long drive when you are tired, it's amazing you get through it at all.

 

What are your alternatives?

 

Does your boss know you have MS? Could your travels be accomplished with a less expensive face-to-face meeting using some kind of video conference as simple as Skype?

 

Let's look at the current situation. First, you are traveling. Most people find traveling at its best stressful.

 

You were trying to find your way around in unknown areas.  I think it is often difficult to find your way even in a known area trying to read street signs. Trying to read street signs in an unknown area is even more difficult. Add to that the difficulty of finding street numbers! 

 

 

Looking for street signs and numbers where the signs and numbers are not the same format as your town and maybe the organization of the streets is totally different makes the task almost impossible.

 

What could make working through this mish-mash easier? Do you travel with a partner? Could you have a driver who is familiar with the area?

 

Maybe if you talk with your boss, you can agree on an acceptable accommodation for you.

 

Warning: If you have not told your boss, you might want to think about this. Also, decide if you want to keep your job or if you are ready to change jobs. If you indicate you cannot handle the traveling, and travel is a requirement, perhaps you are saying you cannot do the job. Is there another job at your company that would be an acceptable accommodation? Your choice.

 

Good luck. Please let us know how you are doing.

 

 

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Lisa Emrich, Health Guide
7/29/10 9:25am

Hi KW,

 

Vicki gave you some wonderful suggestions.  I agree that practicing calm/deep breathing techniques on a daily basis helps to keep anxiety and stress levels down overall.  Conditioning your body to be resistant to stress takes practice.

 

Many times when I'm traveling to a new place, I will prepare in advance so that it is easier to get around.  I definitely use Mapquest or Google Maps to map out directions to and from each of the places I'm going.  If you know the order of your travels, then you can do this sequentially.

 

Sometimes in Google Maps, you can even see real photos of the streets and buildings.  You might use this to get acquainted with what the city looks like.

 

If you use an iPhone, there is also mapping capabilties with a GPS function.  It can be very handy if you get lost.

 

Defintely pull the car over and take a breather whenever you need to.  Pull over if you need to regroup to figure out where you are and where you need to go.

 

If you feel you are unable to travel, then you need to carefully consider how to approach your boss.  You definitely do not want to claim yourself unable to do the job if travel is a requirement.  But if there is something reasonable which could be adjusted so that you are better able to function in your job, then you might approach to request accommodations.

 

I hope that you are able to find a way to keep the stress and anxiety levels down.  They certainly don't make life any easier.

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By KW, Community Member— Last Modified: 12/26/10, First Published: 07/28/10