By Marcy Feibelman
It is officially summer! Yee-haw! This time of year means the end of school for most students, teachers, children and parents. With that break from school, many of you may be going on some fun and exciting travel adventures. To help make your travels go as smoothly as possible, I am going to share some health tips.
TIP #1: SLEEP
As many of us know, travel days can be quite stressful. One of the best ways to reduce stress on the body and mind is to get quality sleep. Sleep equates to rest and recover time. To allow for that time, prep for your vacation the week before. The day before you leave, try to have your bags packed and maintain your daily routine. Our bodies operate on a rhythm. The closer we keep to that rhythm the less stress there is on our adrenal glands, our nervous system and our well-being in general. If you will be waking up earlier than usual, try to go to bed 1-2 hours earlier than normal for the days leading up to your travel day. The night before you leave, create a relaxing wind-down routine for you (and your partner or family) such as an evening walk, stretches and/ or deep breathing exercises, or Epsom salt baths with lavender essential oil. Aim to be in bed between 8-10pm. To calm your mind of what needs to get done, consider writing a ToDo list for your travel day, i.e. the “don’t forget to-do this” list.
TIP #2: NUTRIENT-DENSE HEALTHY SNACKS
Traveling can be exhausting, and there may be little time to sit down and eat a healthy meal amidst trying to catch a plane, train, taxi or ferry. I recommend packing nutrient-dense snacks that include protein to keep your blood sugar levels stable and your body in as reduced a stress state as possible. One snack idea includes a bag of mixed nuts and dried fruit. Almonds and dried cranberries are a favorite of mine. You can throw in some dark chocolate chips if you need a little sweet goodness. Turkey jerky is another great protein option. Hummus and a bag of veggies like carrots, cucumbers, peppers and peapods are an easy option too – as long as your hummus isn’t hanging out in hot temperatures for hours. Apple slices and a small container of almond butter for dipping is another healthy option. The key is to get your servings of protein, along with some veggies and fruit. Keep sugar and simple carbohydrates like bagels, bread, pasta and cookies to a minimum because they will spike your blood sugar levels and then drop them, which creates physiological stress in the body and can lead to mood changes such as irritability and temper tantrums.
TIP #3: SUPPORT YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
When we travel, our bodies are exposed to lots of germs (especially viruses). Quality sleep is an important preventative measure. Avoiding (or minimizing) sugar and alcohol intake is another measure, as these substances lower our immune function and make our body more susceptible to viruses. Nutrients to consider supplementing for immune support include vitamin C and zinc. During flights, it is important to drink water to stay hydrated and flush wastes out of your body. Tea is a great option as well. You can bring a few ginger tea bags, and get hot water and lemon from the flight attendant. Consider wearing a scarf and bringing a small 2 ounce bottle of eucalyptus or peppermint essential oil. You can dab a few drops of the oil on your scarf to breathe in throughout the flight and also a few drops on the air blower above your seat. These oils are antimicrobial, and will help prevent any circulating viruses from reaching you. They also have a wonderful menthol-y or minty aroma, which tend not to disrupt other passengers.
Marcy Feibelman is a naturopathic doctor practicing at Leaves of Change Natural Medicine in Providence, Rhode Island. Dr. Feibelman is the current president of the Rhode Island Association of Naturopathic Physicians. To learn more about Dr. Feibelman or naturopathic medicine in Rhode Island, you can visit www.LeavesofChangeMedicine.com.
* This article is for information purposes only. Before making any changes to your health, please consult your doctor.