If last holiday season you returned home feeling like you’d survived deployment, you know something needs to change. This list could make the difference between you showing up at your destination angry, empty-handed and resentful or calm, collected and grateful.
Save this holiday layover list. Check it twice. You’ll save your holidays if you take our advice!
6 ways to avoid airport stress during the holidays
Weeks or months in advance, make a checklist of everything you need to bring on your travels, so you leave prepared. Keep or save the checklist so you’ll have it whenever you travel. Even if you begin to lose your marbles to holiday chaos, your level-headed list will ensure you don’t forget anything.
When possible, book direct flights. What is time and peace of mind worth to you? Plan when you land, too. It’s cool to arrive in a new city during the day, but traffic can be a nightmare—especially around the holidays. Nights and evenings tend to be calmer, more predictable times to travel.
In the weeks leading up to your trip, take supplements. Nutrients such as zinc, vitamins C and D, probiotics and omega-3s bolster your immune system to protect you from airport germs. Exercise, eat right and get sunlight before you travel on the day of and several days preceding your trip for the same reasons.
Bring everything you need—which, be honest with yourself, isn’t that much–into something you can carry on to avoid the hassle and risk of checking bags. If you carry on, you’ll be able to walk off the plane, out of the airport and into your loved ones’ arms without delay or lost luggage.
Print out your boarding pass or seats at home and get to the airport early—but actually. Check in before the traffic jam and long security lines and read or work inside the terminal.
2. Find ways to move
Huffington Post blogger James E. Porter noticed that if he exercised in the morning before traveling, his anxiety was lower all day. If you can’t fit in exercise in the morning, your airport may have an airport gym or offer airport yoga.
At the very least, you can walk around the airport by avoiding shuttles, trams and conveyor belt walkways. Nutrition-and-wellness expert Ann Kulze, MD told Health Magazine, “The rhythm and repetition of walking has a tranquilizing effect on your brain, and it decreases anxiety and improves sleep.”
3. Go tech-free
Cell phone buzzing, email alerts and blue screen light keep us in perpetual fight-or-flight mode (no pun intended!) due to bursts of adrenaline. This electronic assault contributes to mounting stress levels and adrenal fatigue. Use your time at the airport and on your trip to disconnect and detox from all your devices.
If you must work at the airport, prepare some things on your laptop that you can do without wifi, and then work on solely these tasks. Think of the airport as an anonymous bubble free from distraction where you can get actual work done.
4. Pack an emergency kit
Stick some essential oils in your purse or backpack. Depression researchers have found that certain citrus fragrances boost feelings of well-being and alleviate stress by upping feel-good hormones. Peppermint oil can help with headaches, tummy troubles, and lethargy. Finally, lavender calms the nervous system and promotes relaxation.
Pack an Emergency Food Kit. We all need extra energy when we’re traveling. Don’t leave home without a healthy snack or mini-meal to keep your blood sugar balanced and your mood level. For example, physician Mark Hyman’s airport emergency pack contains:
- A small bag of raw almonds, walnuts, or pecans
- A small bag of cut carrots or celery with snack-sized containers of hummus
- Can of wild salmon or sardines
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Healthy whole food protein bar (eat half in the morning, half in the afternoon)
- Bottle of water
Honey sticks are also a great natural energy booster. Plus, research shows that its antioxidant and antibacterial properties may improve your immunity. The darker the honey, the higher the antioxidant levels.
5. Take care of your health
Turn off your overhead vent! Overhead on-plane air conditioning is recirculated—and aimed directly toward your face. Shutting this vent off is the surest way to prevent getting sick while flying.
Don’t eat airplane food but if you must, here’s a list of what to avoid.
We recommend instead, pack yourself a meal or two that you’re genuinely excited about to resist a temptation that would ultimately just make you feel crappy.
Hydrate. Flying zaps moisture from our bodies. Drink loads of water and avoid salty foods. Pack an empty water bottle so you can refill at any water fountain instead of having to wait in line somewhere.
If you start feeling overwhelmed or anxious, pinch your “hokuspot”—that fleshy place between your index finger and thumb. Applying firm pressure there for 30 seconds can reduce stress and tension in your upper body and head.
6. Enjoy your time with others
Research consistently shows that spending quality time with loved ones reduces stress hormones.
Finally, seek and spend time with people who crack you up. Laughing reduces stress hormones, which helps immune cells function better. If your family doesn’t make you laugh, find humor in the situation, text friends and remember that this isn’t the end of the world. Make the most of where you are by sitting back and enjoying the ride.
UPDATED December 28, 2018