How to Survive Holiday Travel

For many of us, the holiday season involves traveling to visit family and friends. Though this is a joyous, celebratory time of year, the hustle and bustle can be taxing on our minds and bodies, putting us at risk for illness and injury.

Sitting in one position for a long time on planes, in buses, and cars can wear on the body, causing discomfort in the back, shoulders, and neck. Lugging heavy bags weighs us down. The stress of rushing to make departures, long lines at airports, crowded highways, along with throngs of other people dealing with the exact same things, takes its toll on us emotionally as well as physically.

When we arrive at our destination, relief is usually fleeting. Sleeping in guest beds, on couches, and air mattresses can wreak havoc on our spines, and family tensions can make us emotional. Being out of our familiar settings and in close quarters with people we may not see that many times a year can drive us to lose our good will towards men.

However, here are a few measures you can take before, during and after your trip to make it as stress-free as possible.

  • Before you leave, get organized.
    • Pack ahead of time rather than saving it for the last minute. Minimize luggage by bringing only the necessities.
    • If you’re flying, keep tickets in a safe place where you will remember them. Don’t wait until ten minutes before you leave to find them.
  • Be prepared for delays and traffic. Bring a book and music to keep yourself occupied.
    • Get enough sleep in the days leading up to your trip so you’re not running on empty.
  • Strive to eat balanced meals and drink plenty of water, even on the road or in the air. It may be tempting to resort to surviving on coffee, pastries, and airline peanuts, but you’ll feel much better by the time you reach your destination if you’ve given your body the nutrition it needs.
    • Be mindful of what you eat and drink, but don’t beat yourself up for indulging in a special treat.
  • See your Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner to pick up some remedies:
    • “Cold Quell” pills can be taken before beginning your journey to prevent colds and then immediately with any sign of a cold coming on.
    • An immune booster like “Jade Windscreen Pill” for a week before travel and during your entire stay is also effective.
    • A great formula to help with digestion is “Strengthen the Spleen” pills to be taken after a very filling holiday meal.
  • Pressing on acupressure points, self-massage, and self-care are also helpful.
    • LI4 (or Large Intestine 4 point, also called peaceful union) is great for any type of headache, toothache or pain in the body. Take the thumb and index finger of one hand and press the soft mound of flesh on the palm between the thumb and index finger of the opposite hand. Look for the tender area and rub for 5 minutes, alternating sides.
    • Round rub around eyes—Make hands into loose fists and take the knuckles of index fingers and rub around the eye socket pausing in the tender spots. Rub around nose and sinus passages to encourage healthy, open sinuses and clear vision.
    • After arriving, soak feet in warm water to encourage any anxiety, tension or excitement from travel to melt away. This will help you get a good night’s rest by descending energy away from the head in order to calm nerves and rest the mind.
  • There are various yoga stretches and breathing exercises that promote calmness or increase energy.
    • Forward bends are great for calming the mind. Either with legs straight or bent, hang from hips, holding elbows, nodding head “yes,” shaking head “no”, to open spine and release neck and shoulder muscles. Resting your head on a few stacked books helps to calm mind.
    • You can also do this on the floor with backs of legs flat against floor and bending forward towards your toes (no need to touch) and resting your head on stacked pillows to make it restorative rather than strenuous. It is best to relax into this pose for 3-5 minutes.
    • If you want to boost your energy, doing a headstand is a great way to gear up.
    • Practice deep breathing, in moments where you’re afraid of losing your cool,. Breathe in for seven seconds, and then out for seven seconds. Do this for 10 rounds and feel the effects.

Exercise is one of the ultimate stress-busters. Even a walk around the block with a cousin or sibling can get your heart rate up and produce feel-good endorphins.
Perhaps most importantly of all, be kind to your body. Don’t push yourself too hard. Though many of us feel pressured by the demands of the season, remember that you are only human.

When you get home, check in with your acupuncturist, chiropractor, therapist, or any other practitioner you regularly see. They can help you tend to any lingering ailments.

Cheers to a happy and healthy holiday season!

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