How To Stay Healthy While Traveling
Traveling can take a toll on the body physically, mentally and emotionally. While travel often involves excitement and anticipation, the experience can also trigger anxiety, stress and fear. Traveling disrupts our natural circadian rhythm while low oxygen levels, humidity and sudden changes of pressure all have varying levels of negative side effects. Luckily there are several ways you can minimize and combat the effects of flying and travel.
With a little forward planning and awareness, your journey can be comfortable and have you arriving at your destination ready to enjoy your time away. These simple tips will ensure you the smoothest journey possible.
#1 Stay Hydrated
At high altitudes, the air inside of a plane contains 66 percent less water than at sea level, making the plane environment drier than a desert! This easily amounts to a dry mouth, eyes and nose, headaches, dizziness, susceptibility to infection and dehydration. To avoid dehydration, drink plenty of water before you fly and throughout the entire journey. Bring your own electrolytes or a good quality green powder to add to your water for extra hydration and nutrients. Having a good moisturizer, hydrating face mist and something to naturally moisten your lips with will also make your journey a little more pleasant.
#2 Pack Your Own Meals
Boosting your immune system and ensuring you are having nutrient-dense food will help ward off infection and illness that is common when travelling. Medical doctor Robin Berzin suggests passengers avoid the sodium-rich, preservative-laden food typically served on airplanes and to pack your food and snacks instead. Travel-friendly food may include fresh fruit and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, quinoa salad, homemade sushi, flaxseed crackers with almond butter or avocado, chia seed pudding or homemade energy bars. You can also pack a lemon and squeeze it into some water for an easy vitamin C boost on board.
#3 Protect Your Ears
The pressure inside the cabin fluctuates throughout the journey and most significantly during take-off and landing. The Eustachian tubes inside the ear open and close, trying to balance and match this changing pressure and as a result, your ears may feel blocked or you experience ‘popping’ sensations. If you find this uncomfortable, try to swallow, yawn, or slowly suck on an ice cube. If you have severe discomfort you can also purchase air pressure-regulating ear plugs which slow the rate of air pressure on the ear drum. The noise pollution from a passenger can also trigger stress in the body. Try wearing earplugs or noise-reducing headphones, especially during long flights.
#4 Keep Moving
Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot that forms in the legs as a result of poor circulation, low air pressure, dehydration, and little movement. Avoid clot formation by keeping hydrated and mobile as much as possible. Wander up and down the aisles when safe and appropriate, try some gentle yoga poses such as seated twists, and flex your feet and legs often to keep the blood flowing. Compression socks can assist to avoid swelling which is another cause of clotting, these can be found in most airports or chemists. In between flights give the travelator a miss and walk to and from your gates, or even roll out a yoga mat and move through some sun salutations while you wait.
#5 Breathe and Meditate
Breathing exercises can be done anywhere and anytime. Try taking 4-5 deep breaths, holding the breath at the top of the inhale and then exhaling slowly. Mediation can also help to limit the stress and anxiety that often accompanies travel. Studies have proven that meditation during take-off and landing can be effective in alleviating those nervous jitters. Listening to gentle music or a guided meditation is a great way to relax the brain and help you to feel calm and centered throughout the journey.
#6 Limit Alcohol and Caffeine
Both alcohol and caffeine are dehydrating and disrupt your natural sleep patterns, therefore while you may be heading off on vacation and looking to celebrate, or catching a red-eye flight and seeking that caffeine hit, these are the worst substances to turn to when it comes to air travel. Do your body a favor and stay hydrated with water or mineral water during your flight. Opt for herbal tea over caffeine when traveling- chamomile tea can assist you with relaxation and sleep, while peppermint tea can assist with digestion, which can also be triggered by travel.
The physical and emotional stress of travel can lead to a quick depletion of essential nutrients. Travel also exposes you to a rather unavoidable cacophony of germs and bacteria. While antibacterial sprays are used onboard between flights, these can be just as irritating to the body. Try traveling with greens, Vitamins A, D, and C, plus Zinc to help keep your immune system strong. Invest in a good quality probiotic that you can take while traveling to support your immune system, ward off nasty travel bugs and support digestion.
#8 Catch Some Zzzz’s
Travel affects the body’s circadian rhythms and confuses our internal body clock. While sleeping on a plane may be challenging, it can also be one of the most beneficial ways to pass the time. Invest in an eye mask, wear layered clothing so you are neither too hot nor cold, and use ear plugs to block out external noise. When heading across time zones, avoid jetlag by switching your clock and devices to the new time zone as soon as you arrive and maintaining a normal sleep pattern as best as you can.
Once you arrive at your destination, try going for a long gentle walk and ground yourself by walking barefoot in nature or jumping in the ocean. Unwind with a herbal tea and Epsom salt bath. Continue to drink plenty of water and eat a nutritious meal. Expose yourself to sun and allow your body to adjust to your new environment.
The best way to beat travel jetlag is to use these tips. However, sometimes we all over-indulge on a holiday and that's ok! Feeling the post-holiday blues?
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