5 tips to tame the stress of travel during the holidays | Tech US News

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Editor’s note: Dana Santas, known as the “Mobility Maker,” is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and mind-body coach in professional sports, and is the author of “Practical Solutions for Back Pain Relief.”



CNN

For many people, traveling is a necessary part of celebrating the holidays with loved ones. This means enduring all the stressful issues that can come with traveling and spending time away from the comforts of your own home.

Every year, my family starts the season watching the classic comedy “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” starring Steve Martin and the late John Candy. In it, the two men are strangers who end up stuck together, dealing with a comically inordinate number of travel-related problems while trying to get home for Thanksgiving.

There’s a good chance your vacation won’t be as complicated as Martin and Candy’s, but you may face delays, detours, and long hours of sitting that can take a toll on you mentally and physically. So whether you’re driving to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving or flying to see family in another country, try the five tips below to reduce stress and tension so you can enjoy the holiday.

When you sit for long periods while traveling, your posture tends to suffer. Given the intimate relationship between your breathing pattern and your posture, slouching while sitting leads to shallow, rapid breathing, which prompts your body’s stress response. It’s a vicious cycle that increases physical and mental stress.

That’s why it’s important to take control of your breathing at least once an hour while traveling to help restore your posture and cultivate a sense of calm. Taking just five or six long, deep breaths while focusing on getting your lower ribs moving as demonstrated in this video can make a big difference.

Dana Santas Breathing better 02

Optimize your breathing with these tips

03:08

– Source: CNN

Just 90 seconds of deep breathing triggers a relaxation response that lowers heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormone production, according to research.

Those muscle cramps and joint pains you experience on the road may have a lot to do with your fluid intake. Considering that our bodies are mostly water, hydration is important for proper joint lubrication and circulation. But your hydration level doesn’t just affect you physically. When you’re dehydrated, your body’s cortisol (primary stress hormone) levels rise, which can lead to feelings of anxiety, exhaustion, and general irritability.

Vacation travel can be stressful, but you can relieve stress with strategies like mindful breathing and walking breaks.

Your access to clean water may be limited while traveling, so it’s important to plan ahead. You can’t bring bottled water through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints, and no one likes paying exorbitant prices for water bottles at the airport. Fortunately, most airports have filtered water stations to refill bottles for free. So pack a reusable water bottle and if you’re driving, don’t forget to bring a cooler with water.

Even when you’re not traveling, vacations make it easy to get dehydrated. With all the partying, we often forget to drink as much water as normal, especially when the cocktails are flowing. But alcoholic drinks are not substitutes for water because they dehydrate.

Alcohol suppresses the natural production of the antidiuretic hormone vasopressin, which prevents us from urinating too much. Without it, we find ourselves in the bathroom more often. Counteract the dehydrating impact of alcohol by drinking a glass of water with each cocktail.

Studies abound on the health hazards of prolonged sitting, but few people seem to make an effort to avoid it while traveling. Looking around the airport, you’ll find most everyone sitting at the gate waiting to board their plane, where they’ll inevitably be sitting for at least a couple of hours or more.

Break up sitting sessions by taking opportunities to stand and walk whenever possible. At the airport, walk around your terminal. Some airports even have yoga rooms with public access. When traveling by car, find a park or even a mall on your route where you can get out and take a 10-minute walk.

A lot of sitting while traveling also means compressed side waist muscles, overused hip flexors and strained lower back muscles. If you want to be more comfortable and avoid pain when traveling, you should stretch those muscles whenever possible.

My preferred travel leg is the warrior hip flexor release.

Dana Santas demonstrates the warrior's hip flexor release.

Here’s how to do it:

Stand to the right of a wall, chair or other stable surface. Place your left hand on it for support.

Return your right foot to a short lunge position, dropping your back heel and pointing your toes slightly, as shown.

Bend the front knee to line up above the ankle, while the back leg remains straight.

Inhale as you raise your right arm above your head.

Exhale as you bend to the left, feeling your left lower ribs rotate inward.

Avoid arching your lower back.

Hold for three long, deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Check out the video at the top of this story for more exercises to combat the negative impact of sitting.

You may be so relieved to arrive at your destination that you think laying down in a comfortable chair is all you need. But it is even more beneficial to raise the legs above the heart, which promotes venous blood flow and helps reduce swelling in the lower body.

The yoga posture known as

A great way to achieve this is with the popular restorative yoga pose known as “legs on the wall.” You can do this on the floor with your legs straight on the wall or with your knees bent and calves resting on a chair seat. If you don’t want to lie on the floor, you can lie back on your bed and put your legs on the headboard. Feel free to place a pillow or folded blanket under your head.

Once in position, stay there for a few minutes, taking long, deeply relaxing breaths.

In addition to changing your relationship with gravity to relieve tension, it’s important to get enough sleep. This is especially true if you have traveled to a different time zone. Work in naps, if necessary, to make up for any sleep deficit that may be negatively affecting your health and well-being.

For all the joys the holidays bring, it’s important not to overlook the ways in which seasonal travel can unwittingly drag you down. Using the five tips above will help keep travel stress at bay and holiday cheer.

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