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Going abroad on business? 12 tips to make it a stress-free experience

Many of us are required to go abroad for work purposes from time to time. I know a lot of people that have traveled across the globe but never really got to enjoy it. That’s a shame, though, as going abroad on any occasion should be an exciting one. So let’s look at a few tips to help you.

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Many of us are required to go abroad for work purposes from time to time. I know a lot of people that have traveled across the globe but never really got to enjoy it. They went from meeting room to meeting room, and the whole thing was a stressful experience. That’s a shame, though, as going abroad on any occasion should be an exciting one. There are ways and means of still getting to do the activities you enjoy, as well as sticking to the rigid schedule.

Knowing how to reduce your stress levels while having a good time is important, so let’s look at a few tips to help you.

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STUDY THE PLAN DETAILS EXTENSIVELY

To try and eliminate stress as much as possible, you need to study the plan details ahead of time. You’ll normally get some kind of itinerary well before you leave the country. Every minuscule detail should be taken into account, from hotel room numbers to flight times. Not only do you want to make sure you’re ready for business matters, but study the country too! Find out where you’re going and what’s in the local vicinity to where you’re staying. That’ll give you a chance to plan your downtime activities instead of rushing around while you’re there. Understanding the plan is incredibly important.

CAN YOU WORK DURING THE FLIGHT?

Wherever possible, it’s a great idea to try and get some work done on the flight. If you know that the alternative is getting work done as soon as you’re off the plane, why not get it done now? The flight will likely be a long one, and there’s not a whole lot else you can do while you’re waiting to land. Unless you feel excessively tired, and you need some rest, this is as good a time as any to get the laptop out! Remember that you won’t be able to use the internet, so plan ahead of time for this. Download any cloud-based work to your hard drive so you can access it offline. Find work that you can do without needing a constant connection like responding to emails.

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USE DELAYS WISELY

It’s a fact of life that many of us have to deal with flight delays from time to time. You can’t do anything if this happens to you, so don’t stress about it. Instead, use that time wisely. Inform others that your flight has been delayed before doing anything else. Then, think about how you can make the most of your free time. Maybe it’s a case of getting work done so you can relax later? You might even want to visit a restaurant at the airport and get a good meal. That’ll save you needing to do so later, and it’ll give you a boost of energy. Alternatively, you could even catch up on some much-needed sleep. Just don’t miss your flight.

TRAVEL LIGHT WHEREVER POSSIBLE

The last thing you want to deal with when traveling abroad is lost baggage. As a result, it’s best to try and travel as light as possible. If you can manage with hand luggage, that’s a big plus on your part. Still, that’s very difficult to do in many cases. Think about the amount of clothes you’re going to need. Remember that this is a business trip, and business wear might be a necessity to convey the right image. That said, you shouldn’t have to go over-the-top. Reevaluate your business dress and think about what you can leave at home. You can find some great info from The Alternative Daily about what you shouldn’t have to wear when it comes to work. Pack light and your trip should be a much easier one.

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FIND ROOM IN YOUR SCHEDULE TO HAVE FUN

Who cares if you’re there for business? How many times will you get another chance to be in a different country? Business matters come first, but you won’t be forced to work and be in meetings all day every day! When you’ve got some downtime to yourself, use it wisely. You shouldn’t neglect things like getting proper sleep, but don’t just sit reading a book all night. There’s a time and place for that sort of activity, and you’ll regret not making the most of it if you waste your time. Discover the local attractions. Take plenty of photos and enjoy being somewhere different. You might only ever do this once.

GET A GOOD PAIR OF HEADPHONES

For occasions where you want to work on a plane, train or any other form of transport, noise can affect you greatly. Kids crying and loud chatting is enough to drive you insane! Once you get to the hotel, things can be even worse. Work being done on the roads is one thing, but noisy neighbors are something else. That’s why getting a good pair of headphones before you set off is crucial. You want some that can cancel noise and give you a way of getting your work done in peace. You can find these from all sorts of online retailers, and you’ll even find them in the airport if you wait until the last minute!

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PREPARE FOR UNSEEN CIRCUMSTANCES

We’ve already mentioned some of the unforeseen circumstances you could face. What if your bags get lost? What if your hotel room isn’t ready? What if the flight is delayed? These are all possible outcomes that you need to be prepared for. In fact, you should schedule this into everything you do. Plan for all of these things to happen, and find a way to fit everything else into your intended schedule. Then, if you find that they don’t occur, you’ll have even more free time to get everything done. That eliminates the need for stress.

COULD YOU BRING FRIENDS OR FAMILY?

Some people opt to bring friends and family on business trips from time to time. It isn’t something that is done on a regular basis, but the circumstances might just call for it. Always make sure to check with your business before doing something like this. Having familiar faces around will help you to de-stress and remain calm. This isn’t a holiday, though. Make sure they know that before they start thinking you can spend all your time with them. You might be able to spend some time, but this is a business trip first and foremost. To avoid arguments, it needs to be perfectly clear that this is the case.

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DON’T NEGLECT YOUR HEALTH

With the tight deadlines and stress of traveling, business trips can lead to a lack of healthy living. Don’t let that happen to you! It’s very important to eat a good meal rather than snacking on unhealthy foods. That will only solve a temporary issue, and it won’t make you feel good in the long run. Taking the time to sit down and eat a full meal will recharge your batteries in the evening. Similarly, don’t go overboard on the amount of alcohol you consume. Your business colleagues will surely ask you to go out with them in the evenings, but make sure you hold back on the drinking. This is a business trip, not a casual one.

FORGET THE TV

Listen, I love TV as much as anyone. I’m guilty of going abroad and watching TV far too much, and then regretting it afterward. It’s an addictive box of joy that is the easiest way to sit back and relax of an evening. You’re in a different country, though. What seems like ten minutes of television can turn into two hours, and suddenly, you’ve wasted all your free time. Instead, try and force yourself to stay away from that remote. If you can avoid the television, you’ll be amazed at how much more you can get done while you’re abroad. Go and explore the country while you’ve got the chance.

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MAKE PLANS WITH BUSINESS COLLEAGUES – OR DON’T

It’s likely that your business colleagues will want to spend some time with you in the evenings. They might invite you to go out to eat, or go and watch a local sporting event! You should definitely take this chance to enjoy yourself if you feel that way inclined. On the other side of the scale, though, don’t feel pressurized. We’ve mentioned how this is a potentially once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the country. Do what you want to do with your free time. Let your colleagues down gently if you’d rather have some alone time.

TALK TO OTHERS IF YOU’RE FEELING ANXIOUS

There are a vast number of people on this planet who are nervous travelers. It’s very difficult for them when they are with friends and family, and even harder in a scenario such as this. Some people don’t like the idea of being on their own in a foreign country, either. They haven’t got that immediate support system around them like they would when traveling with close friends. If this is the way you feel, reach out to other colleagues. You’ll find that the good ones will go out of their way to make you feel more comfortable. Don’t suffer in silence.

Follow these tips, and make your next business trip a successful one.

"If someone asked you about me, about what I do for a living, it's to 'weave words'," says Kiki Tan, who has been a writer "for as long as I care to remember." With this, this one writes about... anything and everything.

Health & Wellness

Trans women can safely maintain estrogen treatments during gender affirming surgery

The practice of withholding estrogen prior to gender affirming surgery was not necessary. Most transgender women can now safely remain on their estrogen therapy throughout surgery.

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There was no difference in blood clots when estrogen hormone therapy was maintained during gender affirming surgery.

This is according to a study (titled, “No Venous Thromboembolism Increase Among Transgender Female Patients Remaining on Estrogen for Gender Affirming Surgery”) helmed by John Henry Pang with Aki Kozato from Mount Sinai, and was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Historically, the lack of published data contributed to heterogeneity in the practice of whether doctors and surgeons advised transgender women to withhold their estrogen therapy before surgery. The sudden loss of estrogen in the blood was sometimes very uncomfortable with symptoms that amounted to a sudden, severe menopause.

So the researchers tapped 919 transgender patients who underwent gender affirming surgery at Mount Sinai’s Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery between November 2015 and August 2019. Notably, including 407 cases of transgender women who underwent primary vaginoplasty surgery.

This study found that the practice of withholding estrogen prior to gender affirming surgery was not necessary. Most transgender women can now safely remain on their estrogen therapy throughout surgery.

The bottom line: This study found that most transgender women can  safely maintain their estrogen hormone treatments during gender affirming surgery.

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Love Affairs

Dating apps don’t destroy love

Contrary to earlier concerns, a UNIGE study has shown that people who met their partners on dating applications have often stronger long-term relationship goals, and that these new ways of meeting people encourage socio-educational and geographical mixing.

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As dating apps escalated in popularity, so has criticism about them encouraging casual dating only, threatening the existence of long-term commitment, and possibly damaging the quality of intimacy. There is no scientific evidence, however, to validate these claims.

Now a study by the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland – and which was published in the journal PLOS ONE – indicate that app-formed couples have stronger cohabitation intentions than couples who meet in a non-digital environment.

What is more, women who found their partner through a dating app have stronger desires and intentions to have children than those who found their partner offline. Despite fears concerning a deterioration in the quality of relationships, partners who met on dating apps express the same level of satisfaction about their relationship as others.

Last but not least, the study shows that these apps play an important role in modifying the composition of couples by allowing for more educationally diverse and geographically distant couples.

“The Internet is profoundly transforming the dynamics of how people meet,” confirms Gina Potarca, a researcher at the Institute of Demography and Socioeconomics in UNIGE’s Faculty of Social Sciences. “It provides an unprecedented abundance of meeting opportunities, and involves minimal effort and no third-party intervention.”

These new dating technologies include the smartphone apps like Tinder or Grindr, where users select partners by browsing and swiping on pictures. These apps, however, have raised fears: “Large parts of the media claim they have a negative impact on the quality of relationships since they render people incapable of investing in an exclusive or long-term relationship. Up to now, though, there has been no evidence to prove this is the case,” continues Dr. Potarca.

Facilitated encounters

The Geneva-based researcher decided to investigate couples’ intentions to start a family, their relationship satisfaction and individual well-being, as well as to assess couple composition. Dr. Potarca used a 2018 family survey by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office. The analysis presented in this study looks at a sub-sample of 3,235 people over the age of 18 who were in a relationship and who had met their partner in the last decade.

Dr. Potarca found that dating websites – the digital tools for meeting partners that preceded apps – mainly attracted people over the age of 40 and / or divorcees who are looking for romance.

“By eliminating lengthy questionnaires, self-descriptions, and personality tests that users of dating websites typically need to fill in to create a profile, dating apps are much easier to use. This normalized the act of dating online, and opened up use among younger categories of the population.”

Searching for a lasting relationship

Dr. Potarca sought to find out whether couples who met on dating apps had different intentions to form a family. The results show that couples that formed after meeting on an app were more motivated by the idea of cohabiting than others.

“The study doesn’t say whether their final intention was to live together for the long- or short-term, but given that there’s no difference in the intention to marry, and that marriage is still a central institution in Switzerland, some of these couples likely see cohabitation as a trial period prior to marriage. It’s a pragmatic approach in a country where the divorce rate is consistently around 40%.”

In addition, women in couples that formed through dating apps mentioned wanting and planning to have a child in the near future, more so than with any other way of meeting.

But what do couples who met in this way think about the quality of their relationship? The study shows that, regardless of meeting context, couples are equally satisfied with their lives and the quality of their relationship.

Couples with a diverse socio-educational profile

The study highlights a final aspect. Dating apps encourage a mixing of different levels of education, especially between high-educated women and lower educated men. Partners having more diversified socio-educational profiles “may have to do with selection methods that focus mainly on the visual,” says the researcher. Since users can easily connect with partners in their immediate region (but also in other spaces as they move around), the apps make it easier to meet people more than 30 minutes away – leading to an increase in long-distance relationships.

“Knowing that dating apps have likely become even more popular during this year’s periods of lockdown and social distancing, it is reassuring to dismiss alarming concerns about the long-term effects of using these tools,” concludes Dr. Potarca.

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Health & Wellness

Bisexual men more prone to eating disorders than gay or straight men – study

80% of bisexual men reported that they “felt fat”, and 77% had a strong desire to lose weight, both figures higher than the 79% and 75% for gay men, respectively.

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Bisexual men are more likely to experience eating disorders than either heterosexual or gay men. This is according to a report from the University of California San Francisco, published in the journal Eating and Weight Disorders.

A handful of studies have actually indicated that gay men are at increased risk for disordered eating, including fasting, excessive exercise and preoccupation with weight and body shape. This newer study, however, suggest that bisexual men are even more susceptible to some unhealthy habits.

For this study, the researchers surveyed over 4,500 LGBTQ adults, and a quarter of the bisexual male participants reported having fasted for more than eight hours to influence their weight or appearance. This is higher when compared to 20% for gay men.

The research also found that 80% of bisexual men reported that they “felt fat”, and 77% had a strong desire to lose weight, both figures higher than the 79% and 75% for gay men, respectively.

Now this is worth stressing: According to study co-author Dr. Jason Nagata, not everyone who diets or feels fat has an eating disorder. “It’s a spectrum — from some amount of concern to a tipping point where it becomes a pathological obsession about body weight and appearance,”Nagata was quoted as saying by NBC News.

For Nagata, several factors may be at play here, including “minority stress” (the concept that the heightened anxiety faced by marginalized groups can manifest as poor mental and physical health outcomes).

“LGBTQ people experience stigma and discrimination, and stressors can definitely lead to disordered eating,” Nagata was also quoted as saying. “For bi men, they’re not just facing stigma from the straight community but from the gay community, as well.”

Of all the respondents, 3.2% of bisexual males were clinically diagnosed with eating disorders (compared to 2.9% of gay men). For heterosexual men, it’s only 0.6%.

For the researchers, there is a need to conduct eating disorder research on various sexual identities independently. This is also to raise awareness on this issue (and how it affects different people of various SOGIESCs).

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Health & Wellness

Timing and intensity of oral sex may affect risk of oropharyngeal cancer

Love giving head? Consider this: Having more than 10 prior oral sex partners was associated with a 4.3-times greater likelihood of having HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer.

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Human papillomavirus (HPV) can infect the mouth and throat to cause cancers of the oropharynx.

This is according to a study published in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, which has found that having more than 10 prior oral sex partners was associated with a 4.3-times greater likelihood of having HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer. The study also shows that having oral sex at a younger age and more partners in a shorter time period (oral sex intensity) were associated with higher likelihoods of having HPV-related cancer of the mouth and throat.

Previous studies have shown that performing oral sex is a strong risk factor for HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer. To examine how behavior related to oral sex may affect risk, Virginia Drake, MD, of Johns Hopkins University, and her colleagues asked 163 individuals with and 345 without HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer to complete a behavioral survey.

In addition to timing and intensity of oral sex, individuals who had older sexual partners when they were young, and those with partners who had extramarital sex were more likely to have HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer.

“Our study builds on previous research to demonstrate that it is not only the number of oral sexual partners, but also other factors not previously appreciated that contribute to the risk of exposure to HPV orally and subsequent HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer,” said Dr. Drake. “As the incidence of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer continues to rise… our study offers a contemporary evaluation of risk factors for this disease. We have uncovered additional nuances of how and why some people may develop this cancer, which may help identify those at greater risk.”

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Health & Wellness

Sexual, gender minority youths more likely to have obesity, binge eating disorder

Findings suggest that weight and eating disorder disparities observed in SGM adolescents/adults may emerge in childhood. As such, “clinicians should consider assessing eating- and health-related behaviors among SGM youths.”

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Sexual and gender minorities (SGM) youths were more likely to have obesity and full-threshold or subthreshold binge eating disorder. This is according to research – “Obesity and Eating Disorder Disparities Among Sexual and Gender Minority Youth” by Natasha A. Schvey, PhD; Arielle T. Pearlman, BA; David A. Klein, MD, MPH; et al -published in JAMA Pediatrics.

SGM are those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender, or whose sexual orientation and/or gender identity/expression do not conform to societal conventions.

For this study, the researchers noted that as it is, “obesity and eating disorders in youth are prevalent, are associated with medical and psychosocial consequences, and may persist into adulthood. Therefore, identifying subgroups of youth vulnerable to one or both conditions is critical.”

For them, one group that may be at risk for obesity and disordered eating is SGM.

In total, 11,852 participants were considered (aged 9-10 years), derived from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study. The mean age was 9.91, and 5,672 (47.9%) of the total number were female. The sample comprised 1.6% (n = 190) probable sexual (n = 151) and/or gender minority (n = 58) youths, of whom 24.7% (n = 47) responded yes and 75.3% (n = 143) responded maybe to the SGM queries.

The researchers found that one in six youths (1,987 [16.8%]) had obesity and 10.2% (n = 1,188) had a full-threshold (86 [0.7%]) and/or subthreshold (1103 [9.4%]) eating disorder.

They also reported that adjusting for covariates, SGM youths were more likely to have obesity (odds ratio, 1.64; 95% CI, 1.09-2.48) and full-threshold or subthreshold binge eating disorder (odds ratio, 3.49; 95% CI, 1.39-8.76).

SGM and non-SGM youths did not differ in the likelihood of full-threshold or subthreshold anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. The same pattern of results remained when limiting SGM youths to those responding yes to the SGM items, although significance for the likelihood of obesity was attenuated.

For the researchers, the findings suggest that weight and eating disorder disparities observed in SGM adolescents/adults may emerge in childhood. As such, “clinicians should consider assessing eating- and health-related behaviors among SGM youths.”

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Health & Wellness

Sexual dysfunction hits some women harder than others as they age

Factors other than use of hormone therapy, such as higher importance of sex, positive attitudes toward sex, satisfaction with one’s partner, and fewer genitourinary symptoms associated with menopause appear to be protective and are linked to better sexual function across the menopause transition.

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Sexual dysfunction often accompanies the menopause transition. Yet, not all women experience it the same. A study identified the determinants that affect a woman’s risk of sexual dysfunction and sought to determine the effectiveness of hormone therapy in decreasing that risk and modifying sexual behavior.

The study – “Sexual behaviors and function during menopausal transition–does menopausal hormone therapy play a role?” – was published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Although hot flashes easily rank as the most common symptom of menopause, the transition is often accompanied by other issues, including changes that affect a woman’s libido, sexual satisfaction, and overall sexual behavior. Because hormone therapy is the most-effective treatment option to help women manage menopause symptoms, it was the focus of a new study designed to determine why some women experience greater sexual dysfunction than others.

The study involving more than 200 women aged 45 to 55 years found that women with secondary and higher education and a greater number of lifetime sexual partners were less likely to experience sexual dysfunction. In contrast, women with more anxious behaviors during sexual activity and those with more severe menopause symptoms were more at risk for sexual dysfunction.

Hormone therapy was not found to mitigate the risk for sexual dysfunction, nor did it play a major role in determining sexual behaviors. However, women using hormone therapy typically had higher body esteem during sexual activities; better sexual function in all domains, except for desire/interest; better quality of relationships; and fewer sexual complaints (other than arousal problems) than those women who do not. Of importance to helping maintain a woman’s sexual function were positive sexual experiences, attitudes about sex, body image, and relationship intimacy.

“These results are consistent with the findings of prior studies and emphasize that factors other than use of hormone therapy, such as higher importance of sex, positive attitudes toward sex, satisfaction with one’s partner, and fewer genitourinary symptoms associated with menopause appear to be protective and are linked to better sexual function across the menopause transition,” says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director.

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