The holidays are a time to see friends, visit with relatives or sneak away for a little R&R. Unfortunately, getting to your destination can bring on feelings of stress and frustration when you have to navigate crowds and bad road conditions in order to reach your destination, not to mention being exposed to cold and flu viruses that are circulating in full force. There are many ways to help keep stress to a minimum and protect yourself from winter bugs, though. Here are some suggestions to help you stay healthy and calm.
Keeping hands clean is the best way to prevent illness and infection. Wash your hands every chance you get and make sure to pack alcohol-based hand sanitizers in your purse, car, luggage or coat pocket and use them regularly. Cold viruses spread from hand-to-mouth contact rather than airborne droplets, making door handles, escalator rails, elevator buttons, pay parking machines, counter tops, ticket kiosks and plastic security bins at airports absolute havens for germs.
…and wipe surfaces down
Don’t be concerned if your fellow passengers give you strange looks when you pull out a package of disinfecting wipes. Running a sheet over armrests, tray tables, air vents and seat-belt buckles can help remove any bacteria, spores or viruses that might might have been left by the last person. Studies at the University of Arizona, Tucson showed that the flu virus – even the antibiotic-resistant MRSA bacteria – survived on airline tray tables. Yuck. Your seat neighbours might end up applauding you for being so vigilant and may even ask to borrow your wipes to clean their own areas!
Get up and move
You might find yourself engrossed in an in-flight movie, but once the captain turns off the “fasten your seat belt” sign, it’s a good time to walk up and down the aisle a few times to lessen the chances of getting deep-vein thrombosis (DVT). Blood clots can form in your legs causing pain and swelling, and also break free and travel to your lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal. Book an aisle seat to make it easier for you to stretch your legs every 60 to 90 minutes. If you’re prone to clots or already suffer from poor circulation, try wearing support socks. The same advice goes for train travel. If you’re going by car, make frequent pit stops at scenic areas to enjoy a short walk or light jog.
Drink eight ounces of water for every hour you’re in the air. Low humidity at high altitudes makes cabin air dry and our airways more vulnerable to circulating viruses and bacteria. Staying well hydrated keeps our mucous membranes moist and also helps guard against viruses. Pack an empty water bottle in your carry on and fill up after you’ve passed through security. Ask for a slice of lemon or lime at the airport bar or even a pinch of sea salt if you can find it to increase mineral absorption, boost alkalinity and nourish the adrenal glands.
Pack nutritious snacks to keep blood sugar steady
It’s not uncommon to experience travel delays, so make sure you pack some healthy, portable snacks in case you find yourself stuck. Dried fruit, nuts and seeds, hummus and veggies and even air popped popcorn can help keep blood sugar on an even keel and stress to a minimum. CanPrev Core shakes are a great alternative and they are also available in travel-sized sachets. Packing a lunch or snack to take with you is easier on the wallet and helps to avoid the temptation of junk food at a road-side convenience store. At the airport, bypass the soda and candy bars and look for packages of nuts, granola bars or fresh fruit once you’re through security.
Make sure you get your zzz’s
Do the best you can to get a full night’s sleep before you travel, especially when you’re the one behind the wheel. The American Automobile Association recommends at least six hours of sleep before a long road trip as compromised alertness can be hazardous to your safety. Being sleep deprived when you travel by air can increase your likelihood of catching a cold.
Prepare for delays
You can blame bad weather, long line-ups and computer system failures for keeping you from getting to your destination. Being stressed can have a negative effect on your immune system, so leave enough time to get to the airport, navigate a snowy mountain pass or wait for the next train in the event of a cancellation. If you find yourself delayed, spend a few minutes with your meditation app on your smart phone (Buddhify, Zen12) or listen to upbeat music with a good pair of headphones.
Don’t forget to pack your natural first aid kit
When you’re away from home it’s nice to know that you have your trusted remedies with you should you start to feel under the weather. Probiotics, immune supplements, and your daily vitamins and minerals can be brought in your carry on as long as they fit within size guidelines.
Don’t drink on the plane
Maybe you’re a nervous traveler and a glass or two of wine calms you down. As much as it helps, try to find another way to relax. Alcohol is dehydrating and interferes with your ability to get a proper sleep. It also has a moderately suppressing effect on your immune system, leaving you vulnerable to cold and flu viruses.
Try to fall in step with the current time zone
As tempting as it might be to nap once you reach your destination, try to stay awake until your usual bedtime. If you’re really exhausted, give in to some shut eye but try to keep it to under two hours.
Don’t do too much too soon
Try to limit yourself to one activity or family visit per day when you’re on vacation. Rushing to see all the relatives or all the sights at Disney will get you run down and stressed.
Have your car serviced before a road trip
If hitting the road is in your holiday plans, don’t leave home until you’ve had your car properly serviced for winter conditions, and that includes tires too. Make sure your emergency road kit is stocked with an ice scraper, tow rope, jumper cables, sand or cat litter for traction in icy conditions, blankets, flashlights, matches, flares and a first aid kit. You’ll already have your cell phone with you, but don’t forget your charger!