Here come the holidays - Thanksgiving, Channukah, Christmas, and New Year's. And the travel - Thanksgiving is one of the biggest travel days and the day before Christmas is just as busy.
If you're flying, you know what to expect - long lines, delays, crowded flights. But knowing what's to come doesn't necessarily provide reassurance. Traveling - particularly traveling by plane - makes many people crazy. Sitting in the terminal, waiting for your boarding call, you can see the deep lines of care, worry, and anxiety etched into peoples' faces.
However, whereas air travel may not be the funnest thing in the world, there are many action steps individuals and families can take to de-stress the experience. Traveling doesn't have to mean losing your mind and getting all wound up with tension and mental and physical strain.1,2
Here's a Top Eight List of things to do in the days before your flight and then during your flight -
Before the flight -
- Start packing early
- Organize your healthy snacks
- Organize activities for the kids
- Light exercises and stretches
- See your chiropractor
- During the flight -
- Walk around
- Wake up your muscles by doing gentle torso stretches while in your seat
Starting your packing early will make a huge difference in how you feel on the day of the flight. Imagine what it would be like if you didn't have to dash all over your house minutes before you're supposed to leave for the airport, searching for that critical thing you must bring with you.
Make a list and make a plan. Promise yourself you're going to have everything packed, including the kids' backpacks, by the time you go to sleep on the night before you travel. You'll be amazed at how relaxed everyone is on the actual travel day, in sharp contrast to the usual mayhem and fighting.
A good supply of healthy snacks will keep everyone's energy level up, and minimize in-flight crankiness due to hunger and low blood sugar levels. 3 Most airlines don't even serve food anymore, and even if they did, you don't want it. Bring your own low-fat protein energy bars; little plastic cups filled with peanut butter; low-calorie muffins; trail mix with nuts, dried fruits, and chocolate; string cheese; low-fat crackers; and plenty of water.
Be sure to do light exercise and stretches the week of your flight. You're going to be lugging heavy baggage, and want to be ready for some awkward schlepping, dragging, and lifting.
Seeing your chiropractor before a trip will help ensure your body is in peak condition for any unexpected jars and jolts. And even when you're well-prepared, travel still has its stressful moments. Chiropractic treatment helps ensure that your nervous system will be flexible and adaptable, adjusting to whatever surprises are in store during your trip.
1Waterhouse J, et al: The stress of travel. J Sports Sci 22(10):946-965, 2004
2Reilly T, et al: Jet lag and air travel: implications for performance. Clin Sports Med 24(2):367-380, 2005
3Waterhouse J, et al: Factors associated with food intake in passengers on long-haul flights. Chronobiol Int 23(5):985-1007, 2006