By: Gillian B
Every experienced traveler will agree, the one big downside of jet setting is jet-lag! Let’s explore how you can prevent and alleviate the symptoms of jet-lag, and better prepare your body to cope with the stress traveling.
1) Go to Bed Early the Day Before Your Trip.
It is important to re-charge your battery before a trip. It is important to ease your body into what may be a very physically demanding time. You’ll have a much harder time adjusting to a new time zone if you’re already sluggish and under-slept.
2) Mentally Prepare Yourself.
When you get on the plane, make sure you set your watch to the time zone of your final destination. This is to mentally prepare for your new time zone, and environment.
3) Stay Hydrated.
This is one of the most important keys to beating jet lag and any sort of travel related imbalance. I suggest that you carry an empty, refillable water bottle through security. Preferably, a glass water bottle, or mason jar that you’ve recycled and reused. Although you can’t bring liquids through security, you can bring this empty bottle or container. Fill it at a water fountain as soon as you’re through your security check. Make sure you drink up and hydrate before your flight – and of course during the flight. The chance of receiving frequent beverage service may be slim during fights, unless you’re flying first or business class. Kindly ask a flight attendant to fill your bottle for you throughout your flight. Even if they’re not coming through often with the cart, there’s an abundant supply of water in the service station. (1)
Staying hydrated before and during your flight is the most promising way to protect your body against getting sick during travel. The lack of humidity in pressurized cabins dries out your our mucus membranes, making it harder for our systems to flush out foreign invaders of all kind. Our mucous membranes are our first point of contact with foreign invaders and pathogens, via our noses, mouths, and eyes. This means, you are at an increased risk of catching a respiratory virus, including colds, sinus infections and so on while travelling. (2)
So do yourself a favour and drink plenty of water. Experts suggest that it is a promising practice to drink eight ounces of water for every hour in the air. But not all fluids are a good idea. Sports drinks, for example, are packed with refined salts and sugars. These can actually aggravate dehydration within and throughout the body. (2)
4) Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine While Flying.
Beverages such as those containing alcohol or caffeine, can have a damaging effect on our health in normal circumstance, but this is especially true in the air. Caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, sodas such as coke, sprite and caffeinated tea such as green tea are stimulants and contribute to and promote dehydration. (2) Caffeine is disruptive to a restful and peaceful sleep and can cause symptoms of anxiety that include but are not limited to: shakiness, elevated heart rate, racing thoughts and so on… all of which may be heightened for people who already fear flying, who already deal and live with anxiety and the like. (3)
Alcohol consumption coupled with the pressurized cabin of an aircraft can have amplified effects in terms of how your body responds to the alcohol as well. (2)
Needless to say, these two substances do more harm than good and will put your body into a stress state. You should want your body to be hydrated, nourished and at ease [let’s face it, travelling can be anxiety-inducing as is!].
Instead try drinking herbal tea instead, such as chamomile, spearmint, lavender, and lemon balm – these all have calming effects. Infuse your water with some lemon. Get creative!
5) Rest on the Plane.
Be sure to bring your trusted traveling pillow, maybe even a cozy scarf from home doused in your favorite essential oils, your favorite crystal, or whatever resonates with you. (6) Bring anything that will make you comfortable and cozy on the airplane, and allow you to put your feet up [metaphorically, because lets be honest… planes can be super uncomfortable and compacted], and find your state of Zen. Getting as much rest on the plane as possible is very important to ensure that you are well rested and ready to tackle your day upon landing to your layover or final destination[s].
I find that listening to Binural Beats, like OmHarmonics, to be very helpful for resting in the craziest places when traveling. These albums are specially designed to balance the brain and evoke relaxation!
6) Limit Screen Time.
An important element to being able to shut your internal clock down, is to not watch too much TV, too many movies, or finish too many emails on your phone on the plane, as this can be very stimulating, and can trigger certain emotional states, that can then cultivate a state of stress for you.
In addition to that, the blue light wavelengths that screens emit will stimulate you even further. Blue wavelengths are beneficial for us during daylight hours because they boost our attention, alertness, reaction times, and mood. Unfortunately, these blue wavelengths are the most disruptive at night. (4) Research has demonstrated that exposure to blue wavelengths after sun down [which is ever-present in the modern world due to screens appearing virtually everywhere], suppresses the production of melatonin. Melatonin is a major player in aiding the regulation of our sleep cycles, and is secreted by the pineal gland – the gland which is responsible for controlling sleep and wake cycles. A reduction of melatonin at night causes heightened levels of sleeplessness, disturbed sleep cycles and chronic disease. (5)
There are apps for your smartphone or laptop that let you change the blue light spectrum of your screens to an orange light spectrum when the sun goes down. A great application is called: f.lux. It is nonetheless advised to avoid looking at screens as a whole, a minimum of two hours prior to going to sleep.
What are some alternative activities to do on the plane you ask? Try reading a book, writing in a journal and delving into self-reflection, or bring a coloring book; all of these practices have proven to be very therapeutic and calming!
7) Move as Much as Possible.
Now, during flights you are limited to standing up, walking the isles and washroom breaks. But there’s no excuses during a layover! I love to stretch it out and get my body moving after sitting for an extended period of time. My yoga mat goes EVERYWHERE with me. There’s no shame here! People may stare, and give you funky looks – but as long as your heart, soul and body are happy, nothing else matters! Find what resonates with you on a lay over, take the stairs Find ways to get your body moving, your blood flowing and to generate some feel good energy.
8) Ground Yourself ASAP.
When you get to your destination, you want to fight the urge to sleep right away. Get your beautiful self outside as soon as possible. Play in the dirt, roll in the sand, swim in the ocean, whatever you can to connect your skin with the earth. In doing so, you are actively reminding your body of where it is on Earth so it can will itself to fit and suit your current time zone and environment.
Grounding activities to connect yourself with your new destination are especially important for beating jet lag. Swimming for example is extremely therapeutic. You can also take your shoes off and take a walk with bare feet. This will help you cultivate a special connection to a foreign place that will be home for a while. (7) This simple and humbling practice of feeling your feet on the earth will root and ground you, helping you feel more attuned with your new environment.
9) Turn in Early (local time).
Alas my loves, it is time for you to go float away in your dream of a bed. Going to sleep early in your destination time zone will help you reset your internal clocks and bounce back from jet-lag symptoms and get a fresh start the following day.
Follow these tips are you will love every moment of your trip! Be present, be curious, come alive and enjoy the ride!