Why Is Holiday Travel So Hard on Your Body?
Hopefully, your travels are peaceful and relaxing - but often, we’re in a rush to plan and pack. We race to the airport or to head out before we hit traffic. We’re stressed, hurried, and harried. Some negative consequences include:
- Lack of quality sleep
- Lack of good, nutritious food (drive-through and convenience store snacks are often on the menu)
- Lack of physical activity
- Lack of “you” time (meditation, quiet time, reflection, etc., take a back seat)
- Heightened stress levels (this not only affects the mind, it leaves the body vulnerable to colds, injuries, headache, and other issues)
Further, if you’re traveling by air, you are 100 times more likely to get a cold, are exposed to high levels of germs and bacteria, and are more likely to experience bloating, swelling, and dehydration.
It’s enough to make you want to stay home and huddle under the covers! The good news is that there are a variety of easy steps you can take to counteract the toll holiday travel takes on your body - so you can stay healthy and have a wonderful time with loved ones.
Six Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holidays
1. Make Sleep a Priority
When you do not sleep enough, you are susceptible to overeating, fatigue, dizziness, and mood changes. We know you’re busy, but if you stay organized, you can give yourself enough time to sleep. Schedule six to nine hours a night (whatever is optimal for you). You will get more done if you are rested.
How do you stay organized? Make a list of items you need to pack, keep a folder with all of your travel documents, use an app to check off your to-do list or keep track of your shopping list. Better yet: cut down on your list and instead of giving more presents, be present!
2. Fight Stress
Whether you’re visiting family or taking a vacation in warmer climates, carve out time for you. This will help you battle holiday stress. Find a yoga class or stream one from your phone, listen to a guided meditation on YouTube or via an app, take a long hot bath, schedule a massage, pray or visit a house of worship… whatever works for you, make time for it. Again, you will be able to get more done if you are less stressed - but more importantly, you will enjoy the season a great deal more.
3. Stay Active
Physical activity boosts mood and energy levels: just what the doctor ordered when you’re traveling for the holidays! You may not be able to do your normal routine, but you can take a walk, hit the hotel pool or fitness room, stream a workout video (there are many that require no equipment and that you can do anywhere from your parents’ guest room to the hotel to the park).
Take advantage of your surroundings. If you’re enjoying a white Christmas, go snowshoeing, skating, skiing, or sledding. Build a snowman with the kids. If you’re having a white sandy Christmas, take a walk on the beach, swim, dive… there are plenty of options when we make exercise a priority. And you will feel so much better after!
4. Eat Well
It’s the holiday season, and there will be delicious decadent feasts. Enjoy. Yes, if you love mashed potatoes with gravy, pumpkin pie, and other treats, allow yourself. Take the time to eat mindfully and to enjoy the company as well as the food. Savor the season!
At other times during the day, make healthy choices. Start with a good, balanced breakfast, eat regular meals, and skip the snacks if you’re planning a good dinner (and dessert!). Fiber- and protein-rich foods will help keep you full between meals and don’t forget your veggies and fruit.
It is hard to eat well while you’re on route to your destination: instead of a greasy burger and salty fries, opt for a salad with a protein, hard-boiled eggs, and yogurt, peanut butter or turkey sandwich on wheat bread. A trip to the grocery store is just as quick as a fast-food restaurant.
5. Drink Less - and More
The champagne and mulled wine is flowing! Again, ‘tis the season, and enjoy a glass or two of your favorite beverages. But try to moderate: you’ll keep the calories down (to save for the big meal!)- and feel much better in the morning.
You will also want to drink a lot more water. When you’re properly hydrated, you feel better, think more clearly, and have more energy. Carry a water bottle with you and sip on it regularly in the car, on the plane, and as you visit with loved ones. Add some lemon or orange slices if you want a boost of flavor. Hot herbal teas are also a great choice - hydration and warmth!
6. Visit Your Chiropractic Care Center Before and After You Travel
Gentle, noninvasive chiropractic care delivers a number of benefits to the body and mind, from relieving pain and discomfort to boosting immune response and reducing anxiety and depression. This will help you prepare for travel and come back to everyday life refreshed and rejuvenated.
Holiday travel can be hard on the body - but with these easy tips, you can stay healthy, energetic, and mindful of the joys of the season! Contact us for more information.