Whether you travel often for work or are gearing up for a summer vacation, these simple (yet highly effective) tips will lower stress, improve performance, and enhance overall travel experience. You can implement all of them, or just try one or two of these tools—the strategies are designed to be easily integrated into any routine, no matter where in the world you are.
Utilize guided breathing.
Guided breathing improves our relaxation response, which is crucial to ease anxiety. It also improves REM cycles, allowing for deep restorative sleep (which is what we're all looking for on vacation, right?). Not to mention, guided breathing slows down the activity of beta brain waves, which are responsible for decision making, alertness, and attentiveness.
When we take five to 10 minutes for guided breathing, our brains produce more alpha, theta, and delta brain waves—waves responsible for deep relaxation. Plus, it increases melatonin production, which is an extremely powerful antioxidant responsible for regulating circadian rhythms and activating our immune system.
Below are two types of guided breathing you can try next time you travel (or even right now!).
Benefit: Reduces stress and calms your nervous system
Begin to deepen your breathing by inhaling for five seconds and exhaling for five seconds. Bring your attention to your stomach. Inhale, pressing the belly out, and exhale, pulling the belly in. Inhale 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Exhale 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Continue at your own pace.
Benefit: Strengthens the nervous system, boosts the immune system, expands lung capacity
Sit nice and tall. Breathe deeply in through the nose; close the mouth, and make short continuous exhalations through the nose 20 times.
Repeat at your own pace.
*Note: This is a rapid and continuous breath.
Try putting your legs up a wall.
Legs up the wall stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system (the rest-and-digest system), which helps calm the body and mind and reduce stress and fatigue while stimulating circulation and lowering inflammation. This pose is a supportive inversion, which helps regulate blood sugar, stimulate digestion, and reduce fatigue.
Find a comfy spot to sit next to a wall, and then rest your legs against the wall. Stay for as long as it feels comfortable—I usually do 10 to 15 minutes.
Eat some honey at night.
Adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey to decaffeinated tea or hot water before bed helps our body naturally repair itself throughout the night. The liver is responsible for regulating sleep hormones, increasing fat metabolism, and lowering inflammation in the body—and our liver needs glycogen in order to do this and keep stress hormones (like cortisol) at bay. Honey restocks the liver selectively without digestive burden or spiking blood sugar and forms a stable supply of liver glycogen.
Honey also contributes to the release of melatonin, which is the hormone required for both the recovery and rebuilding of body tissues during rest. Melatonin is highly anti-cancer and absolutely necessary for healthy cells. Look for raw honey, or bring it with you during a trip.
Do a few planks.
Spending a few minutes doing planks will ignite your metabolism, improve circulation to the brain, and prepare the body and mind to reach peak performance. You'll feel an instant energy boost after doing them (something that's much-needed when traveling), and they can even improve your productivity.
Planks engage the transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, obliques, and glutes. Plus, you don't need any extra space to do them—any space that fits your body will work!
Pack some superfood snacks!
Nothing keeps your energy up quite like a nutritious snack, so I always make sure to pack some whenever I'm traveling. That way, I'm never stranded without a healthy, delicious option. Here are some of my go-to's.
Dark chocolate (70% and above) is made up of powerful antioxidants that fight free radicals, which are the culprit in premature aging. The polyphenols and flavonoids in dark chocolate are basically the cleanup crew in the cells—they boost the immune system, brighten our skin, strengthen our hair, and give us sustained energy.
Walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which protect the brain and improve cognitive health. Their high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals also improve mental alertness. Did I mention they protect us from inflammation? Yeah, they're a powerhouse, to say the least.
Raspberries and blueberries are another excellent source of antioxidants—meaning they fight oxidative stress and boost our immune system when we travel (ever gotten sick after a long flight? The worst). Raspberries are also high in water content, making them the perfect snack for staying hydrated on the road.
Macadamia nuts are one of the only food sources that contain palmitoleic acid (a type of monounsaturated fatty acid that may speed up your metabolism, thus reducing the body's ability to store fat). They contain both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, so they help you feel full while also removing toxins from the body and assisting in proper digestion. And believe it or not, they're high in copper, which helps with the utilization of iron and aids in the functioning and protection of the thyroid. Throw some in a Stasher bag for a delicious, crunchy midflight snack.
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