Carla Calderas, MA, LPC
Traveling Self-Care Tips for This Summer
Summer! Time to rest and travel. Have you ever gotten back from your trip more tired than how you left? Flying long distances can take a toll on our body. Below are 5 self-care tips to implement when you travel.
Get on your destination's time as soon as you board the plane. There are 2 ways to do this: sleep a lot or stay awake for as long as you can! For example, Japan is 14 hours ahead of Houston at the moment. This means that if it is day-time in Japan, you want to be awake and if it is night-time in Japan, you want to be sleeping, regardless of the time here in the USA. Come up with your strategy and then use things that will help you. I usually sleep the whole flight and use earplugs and a sleep mask. My husband on the other hand, stays up until he can hit the right "sleep time in Japan" as per our example– he watches movies, eats, and walks around the plane. If you want to try his strategy, try any activity that isn’t too mentally challenging\tiring so that you can stay awake. Once you arrive at your destination, stay in the sun as long as you have sunlight and plan on going to bed early, even if you are not tired. You can try relaxation techniques to accomplish this like: meditation, a sleep story, or taking melatonin chews so you can sleep by 9pm. Plan on waking up around 6-7am. If you are able to do this you will have very little jet lag.
Nourish your mind. Bring books, puzzles, electronics, etc… Long flights can be a great time to read the book you have been wanting to read but have been too busy to. Many times, we want to travel to rejuvenate and relax, remember to take time to nourish your mind too with meditation and positive affirmations.
Keep your body comfortable. Bring what you need to keep you body comfortable – a comfortable neck pillow, a sleep mask, ear plugs, comfortable socks to change into, and comfortable clothes (wear layered, comfortable, loose clothing that you can add/remove as needed). It may be hot when you board, but it can be quite chilly on the plane, so be prepared with pullovers or a hoody to be comfortable. Wear comfortable shoes too. Your body needs to move! So, exercise while on the plane by taking walks around the plane and stretching when you can. Try doing a bunch of leg stretches while up and about or while sitting in your seat, targeting your calves, legs, back, neck, etc…
Nourish your body. Drink lots of water: this will help you overcome jet lag and keep you hydrated, which is really important because your body gets really dried out on long flights due to the dry air recirculating in the cabin. Try drinking two bottles of water while in the airport or before getting on the plane. Pro tip - Every time the stewardess comes by with drinks take a water and drink it. When you land, drink two more bottles of water. Eat a healthy meal: you are sitting for a long time, so watch what you eat or you may end feeling super full and bloated. Try to change your meals to low calorie, vegetarian, or low salt on the airline's website – these meals generally have lower calories and as a bonus you get your meal before everyone else.
Practice mindfulness: You are away from home, enjoy it! Take time to journal while on the plane. Once you land, "take time to smell the roses" – take in all the sight seeing, culture, and the opportunity to spend time with others.
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