It’s only the second week of November and you may have already noticed the holiday decorations popping up at your nearest department store. I saw a couple carrying a Christmas down the street recently and did a double take – after all it was only October. The holidays seem to arrive earlier and earlier every year, which means we need to find ways to take care of our bodies and minds staying well no matter where and with whom we plan to spend the upcoming holiday season.
Having lived in a different city than my family since college, I always find myself on the road whether by plane, train, or car at one time or another during the holidays. Aside of making sure my daily wellness routine of healthy eating and exercise doesn’t lapse, I’ve found some additional ways to keep my sanity and make the season more enjoyable. Implement these ideas into your holiday planning and feel better about the season this year.
Up and At ‘Em
Let’s face it, there is nothing you can do when Mother Nature rears her ugly side during the hectic holiday season resulting in flight delays, missed connections or road closures. While you cannot prevent or even properly predict the weather patterns, it is best to try and outsmart your chances of never leaving the ground by scheduling direct flights to your destination first thing in the morning. If the morning flights are delayed or canceled, then the afternoon and evening flights suffer the domino effect. Even if it means waking up at an ungodly hour, spending time with your loved ones is beats waiting at the gate any day. Don’t forget to give yourself a buffer and show up to the airport early as security lines stretch the length of the terminal this time of year.
You already know that laughter is contagious, but so is contempt. Holiday travel time seems to bring out anxiety and egos, often at the same time. Take a moment to consider that travel agents, flight attendants, toll booth workers, and train conductors who have family too and are serving you instead of spending time with them. Author Roger Dooley says, “Pasting a smile on your face even if you’re faking it, can improve your mood and reduce stress.” If you find holiday travel is getting to you, turn that frown upside down and help affect someone else’s mood by letting them see you smile.
For the past year I’ve stopped eating airplane food even on long-haul 16+ hour flights. Cabin dehydration affects your sense of smell and at 35,000 feet your taste buds go numb. To counteract the bland taste of food in the air, catering companies have chosen to add more salt, more sugar, and more MSG to make the food more appealing. Since I care about the food I put in my body on the ground, it makes even more sense for me to control what I eat when I travel. Packing an apple, a whole-wheat almond butter sandwich, or even an avocado has come in handy during delays or when I feel my blood sugar dropping.
Wipe It Down
Ebola has made people think twice about spending hours cramped in an airplane cabin or train car with sick passengers. This concern is not unfounded as when it comes to the cleanliness of our transportation, there are no regulatory standards for cleaning on airlines or trains. When you think of the quick turn around many airlines make, it is no wonder people easily contract colds, flus, and battle germs while traveling. Increase your chances of staying healthy this holiday season and pack some disinfectant wipes. Cleaning your arm rests, tray tables, and window seat side of the plane or train as well as forgoing the free pillows and blankets will help keep the spread of germs to a minimum.
Get Active Rest
Between wrapping up work commitments to feeling anxious about traveling, your brain is working overtime and your body is feeling the stress. If getting to a good night’s sleep isn’t happening during holiday time, then turning to active rest may be a way to restore your body and mind. Sleep specialist Dr. Matthew Edlund has written a book documenting how controlling the process of restoring your physical and mental bodies – active rest – keeps your blood pressure, muscular tension, and nervous system in check. Similar to meditation, active rest allows you to turn off your brain and your body and just be. Instead of lying awake at the end of a long day wishing for sleep to come, pop in you headphones and listen to a soothing voice guide you into an active rest. You maybe be surprised to find this is more restorative then a few hours of shut eye. - Linden Schaffer
This article was written for and originally published on wellness website SpaFinder.