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Travel

Travel stress reaches new heights

By Nick Easen for CNN

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With modern tech traveling for business is no longer down time.

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(CNN) -- As the world's major hubs become bogged down with more security checks and with more travelers returning to the skies, jet stress is being driven to new heights.

The once-glamorous world of business travel used to be a down time for executives away from the office -- but those days are gone.

With wireless technology and mobile communications, in both airports and hotels, down time is increasingly being used to catch up on work, prepare for meetings or take conference calls.

Now anxiety and fatigue is more associated with frequent business trips on crowded planes.

There is also greater pressure on executives to perform whilst on the road due to tighter travel budgets.

"Airline travel can really mess up your digestive system as well as your sleep patterns," Dr. Hannah Theobald of the British Nutrition Foundation told CNN.

Travel stress is such a big issue that Virgin Atlantic is now offering a new remedy -- an in-flight audio meditation program with sounds from meadows to the Arctic.

On nine of Virgin's 29 aircraft, most of which fly between Britain and the U.S., you can listen to a psychotherapist offer relaxation and calming tips, as well as talk you through any flying fears you might have.

This may help for one flight, but what about stress on a longer trip? Business psychologist Gary Fitzgibbon advises keeping a diary about how you feel each day.

"You can then look at the whole diary that has been taken over a three or four week period and then try to identify stress patterns," he explains.

And according to a recent survey the root of a lot of stress is bad manners.

Earlier this year, out of 1,009 passengers, 65 percent said rudeness is a serious problem when traveling, and 52 percent say it is a major cause of stress, according to online travel site Travelocity.

Travel can also be as stressful as giving a presentation in front of a large group, according to 66 percent of those surveyed, and 40 percent said it had a negative impact on their families.

In a previous survey by Microsoft among 600 business travelers, 72 percent felt that business travel was even more stressful than visiting the dentist.

Physicians who specialize in treating travelers, say confusion about time, lapses of short-term memory and difficulty sleeping are common signs of jet stress.

And that travelers who fly between time zones are especially susceptible.

The fact is many road warriors are already sleep deprived before they fly, in a bid to finish last minute office tasks. And any sleep deprivation is likely to make things worse, according to the London Sleep Center.

"(Sleep) is very much like having an overdraft that you pay into. You either pay into it in one lump sum, or you pay into it in steady sums, and that way you pay off the debt," says Dr. Irshaad Ebrahim who works at the Center.

CNN's Meara Erdozain contributed to this report


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