Losing the post-holiday lag

Jet lag beats a decade of testing, Sue White writes.

Jet lag beats a decade of testing, Sue White writes.

With the holiday season approaching, it's hard not to get excited about the prospects of travel.

The exotic destinations, the new food, the jet lag.

I hate to be all bah humbug here, but while jet lag may not be a problem while you're on leave ("What a beautiful sunrise!" or "Who knew there was so much to do here at 2.30am?") it's hard to stay peppy about your body refusing to get shut eye at the appointed time when you have to head back to work.

The good news is, in the name of research, I've been working on solutions for jet lag. My idea was that this would really help readers when they head back to work after their next overseas holidays.

The bad news is, I've been trying for a decade. That's right: for 10 years I've put jet lag to the test, and every single time, jet lag has not only won, but kicked productivity to the curb so convincingly that my bloodshot eyes couldn't see that the curb was only two metres away.

I've long heard of people who say they can work when they are jetlagged. Sure they can. And Kevin Rudd was a great manager despite only "needing" four hours sleep.

During the years, I've tried everything to beat the lag.

Copious cups of highly caffeinated beverages. Chocolate. Food.

Showers. Counting the hours until 6pm (the time I long ago designated appropriate to go to bed at if suffering jet lag).

But still, there's no getting around the fact that if your body thinks it's 3am at the same time as your boss wants to discuss next year's strategy, it's going to be a hard day.

That said, there's always something that can be done to improve one's lot. Light meals, moderate exercise and avoiding dark rooms during daylight hours are all good ideas and may provide a modicum of relief from jet lag.

Obviously, the best plan is to not have to go straight back to work after your holiday. That's easy if you're one of the self-disciplined types who has saved up enough leave for a long overseas jaunt plus four or five days recovering back home. But if you are like I was in my days of salaried employment, and saving more than six days' leave in a row seems an achievement akin to keeping a New Year's Resolution, consider these strategies.

Option one: trade places. Swap Bali for Byron. Madagascar for the Mornington Peninsula.

Option two: don't fly anything more cramped than business class. Sure, you may not be able to afford to do anything at your destination given the ticket will cost roughly 5.3 times the price of economy, but at least you'll be fresh when you're back at your desk.

Option three: chuck a sickie (or two, or three) on your return. You didn't hear it from me.

Sue White is a freelance writer who works for herself mostly because she travels so frequently she spends much of her working life jet lagged. Follow @suewhitewriter

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