Mobilize social support

As clients make plans to continue their healthful lifestyles on the road, encourage them to incorporate potential support systems into their plans. Business travelers may be able to recruit coworkers for an early morning walk to plan the day. Vacationers can get their families and friends involved, either as exercise partners, or to at least take a turn with the childcare or other duties that tie them down.

Develop positive coping skills

Travel means change, and change, even positive change, is a form of stress that requires some adjustment on the part of the individual. Travel demands some flexibility and adaptation because it places you in new situations that require problem solving. The problems range in severity from simple, like ordering from a new menu, to complex, like losing your wallet.

Negative emotions, such as feeling depressed or angry, are common causes of relapse. People previously addicted to alcohol start drinking, ex-smokers resume smoking and people who use food for comfort eat too much. Clients who have developed an all-or-none mentality regarding food intake (usually associated with too much restrictive eating behavior) may “go off the diet,” throw caution to the wind, and eat too much simply because eating helps them feel better in the face of stress. Clients experiencing this “motivational collapse” often feel frustrated by a sense of failure and low self-esteem, which further worsens mental states, accelerating a downward spiral.

Emotional eating is a tough topic to address with clients unless you have a close working relationship with them, or they are fairly open about their tendencies to overeat. Without accusing clients of emotional eating, you can simply point out that many people eat in response to stress. When this is the case, alternative coping measures must be developed. If clients open up at this point and let you know they would like to talk about this, you can explore with them better ways to cope with stress: exercise (the best!), talking to a friend, going to a movie, writing in a journal, going for a walk.

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