Take the Stress Out of Holiday Travel

If you believe the lyrics to “Jingle Bells,” people used to laugh all the way during their holiday travels. Today, getting to grandma’s house may be a little more complicated, but there are still ways you can make it less stressful.

Try these holiday travel tips and sample meditation to make your trip more enjoyable.

Stress-Free Holiday Traveling

  1. Give yourself plenty of extra time. Staying calm is easier when you give yourself plenty of lead time. Leave the house a little earlier than usual.
  2. Expect to run into snags. That extra time will come in handy if you miss a connecting flight. Keep an extra change of clothes with you in case some luggage gets lost.
  3. Pack light. If possible, ship your gifts directly to the recipients so you have fewer suitcases to wrangle. Get in the habit of using a single carry-on bag.
  4. Travel during off-peak hours. Early mornings, late nights, and the middle of the week may be less crowded. Shorter lines are a great way to reduce stress and weariness.
  5. Start out well rested. You can manage everything better after a full night’s rest. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep before your trip. Take an afternoon nap if you’ve got a late flight ahead.
  6. Bring healthy snacks. Skip the fast food at the airport. A protein bar or a bag of homemade trail mix with nuts and dry cereal will give you more nutrition and energy.

  7. Limit alcohol and caffeine. Take it easy with the free cocktails. Flying is dehydrating, so alcohol and caffeine aggravate the effects. They can also make it more difficult to meditate. Drink more water instead.
  8. Use portable meditation props. Airlines generally disapprove of lighting up incense but will welcome less intrusive props. Bring a string of wooden beads you can use for counting or load a favorite image onto your smart phone or tablet.

Sample Meditation for Holiday Travel

  1. Get into position. Sit up straight and relax your shoulders. Take deep breaths from your abdomen. Let distracting thoughts dissolve away as you focus on your breath.
  2. Think about your destination. Picture your destination and the loved ones you’ll be visiting. Mentally greet them and describe to yourself the good times you’ll share. Think about what’s for dinner and the gifts you’ll exchange.
  3. Expand your thoughts to those around you. Remember that you’re surrounded by people making similar plans. Think about all you have in common. Make believe that you’re all sharing a loving and joyous celebration.
  4. Focus on your new holiday mood. Once you’re feeling relaxed and happy, let go of the details and rest your mind in that warm feeling. If other thoughts begin to interfere, retrace your steps to bring that positive sensation back.
  5. Dedicate your good feelings. Pretend you can wrap up those good feelings in a box and present them to everyone around you. Pay special attention to those who may be experiencing less fortunate circumstances.

  6. Gradually return your attention to the present moment. Bring yourself out of meditation slowly. Take notice of your body and the objects around you while trying to keep a relaxed mind.

  7. Remind yourself of the fellowship you felt while meditating. There may still be lost luggage or missed connections ahead. When you encounter a hitch in your plans, think about how good you felt while meditating and use those thoughts to maintain your composure.

Holiday travel can be challenging, but you can make it easier on yourself. Plan ahead and use simple meditations to lift your spirits and enjoy more peace of mind.

Natural Ways to Stay Energized During the Holidays

The holidays are a fun and busy season full of extra errands, travel and entertaining. If you and your family want to make the most of these special times together, there are plenty of natural and effective ways to keep your energy levels up.

Eat Smart

  1. Avoid big meals. Your body has to work harder to digest those huge holiday dinners. Try to eat more slowly and limit your portions.
  2. Reach for healthy snacks. Complex carbohydrates will give you energy fast. Protein provides fuel for the longer term. Make a salad of walnuts and winter greens.
  3. Eat more fiber. Foods rich in fiber help your body break down carbohydrates at a steadier pace over a longer time. That gives you more stamina. Feast on whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
  4. Stay hydrated. Munch on foods that are high in water content like celery sticks and grapefruit. Drink plenty of water too. Your blood will flow more easily, transporting the oxygen and nutrients your cells need.
  5. Eat breakfast. You’re bound to feel fatigued unless you refuel in the morning. A healthy breakfast will also make it easier to resist fattening snacks or overeating at later meals.

Sleep Well 

  1. Take a nap. Brief naps of 20 minutes or less will help you recharge. Just closing your eyes for a few minutes can also be refreshing.
  2. Watch out for extra caffeine. Those chocolates and peppermint-flavored coffee drinks may put you over your limit for caffeine. If they’re keeping you up at night, cut back.
  3. Drink alcohol in moderation. A cocktail may help you fall asleep faster but it interferes with the quality of your sleep. Try to avoid any alcohol within a few hours of bedtime.
  4. Place a curfew on online shopping. You can shop for gifts all night on the Internet but you’ll feel the effects the next day. Turn the computer off a couple of hours before retiring to adjust your mind and body after the mental stimulation and lighted screen.
  5. Stick to a regular schedule. Holiday parties and travel may interrupt your daily routines. As much as possible, getting up and going to bed at the same time each day will help you stay in top shape.

More Lifestyle Tips

  1. Exercise every day. A brisk walk or other moderate aerobics will wake you up and pump more oxygen to your brain. Take the stairs at the shopping mall and park farther from the entrance.
  2. Clear away clutter. You’ll feel more restful when your surroundings are in good order. Recycle those gift wrappings and tidy up after parties to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  3. Alternate between tasks. Baking hundreds of cookies and wrapping mountains of gifts can be tiring. Switching off between jobs can help some. Even better, recruit family and friends to divide the load.
  4. Manage stress. Feeling more stress this time of year is natural. To help prevent this, listen to relaxing music, meditate or talk with friends. A positive outlook can make handling extra tasks much easier.
  5. Focus on giving. Giving to others is the best part of the holiday season and the most effective way to stay energized. You’ll feel motivated to accomplish more with less effort when you think about making others happy. Share your time and attention with the people you love and do some volunteer work to connect with others in your community.

The holiday season can be demanding, but simple lifestyle changes are usually enough to keep you alert and merry. Watch your diet, get plenty of rest, and manage stress so you’ll be ready to tackle all the shopping and parties.

Traveling Light: Cutting the Calories While On the Go

Do you travel a lot? You can still stick to a healthy diet with a little advance planning. If you’re watching your weight, these are some simple techniques for cutting calories while on the go.

Advance Planning

1. Eat well before leaving. It’s always easier to resist fattening foods if you feel full. Enjoy a hearty meal before you set out. If you have an early flight, get up in time to enjoy a breakfast of whole-wheat toast and oatmeal with raisins.
2. Call your hotel. Phone the concierge or the front desk at the hotel where you’ll be staying. Ask for their recommendations for nearby places where you can eat light. Research the location of the nearest grocery store. You can save money and calories by picking up fresh vegetables and fruits to snack on.
3. Do some investigative work. Go online to find your best options at the airports and destinations you have planned. Airport websites usually list their restaurants. Search local business directories by zip code to find ethnic or vegetarian restaurants, health food stores, and farmers markets.
4. Bring along bottled water. Bottled water is a traveler’s best friend. Staying hydrated helps keep you from feeling hungry. A frozen bottle of water can serve as a cooler to keep your snacks chilled. When it melts, you can drink the water and refill it to use as a free weight for exercising.
5. Pack your own meals and snacks. Preparing your own meals and snacks will give you more control over your diet. Put together a trail mix of nuts, lightly sweetened cereal, and dried fruits. Fill zip lock bags with cut vegetables or peanut butter on crackers.
6. Keep your car stocked with healthy snacks. Many people spend long hours in their cars. Always have water and healthy snacks handy like nuts, dried fruit, and low-fat energy bars.

    Eating Away From Home

      1. Control your portion sizes. You can enjoy dining out and still eat like a thin person. Make a meal out of a couple of appetizers instead of a full size entree. Cut your entree in half and take the leftovers back to your hotel for breakfast. Split a dessert with your travel companion.
      2. Eat slowly. Slowing down is a simple and effective way to consume fewer calories. You’ll recognize when you’re full instead of overeating. Put your fork down in between bites.
      3. Learn to read menus. Wherever you eat, there are some common terms that usually indicate dishes low in fat and calories. Look for red sauces rather than creamy white sauces, steamed mussels rather than deep fried fish, and pizza with vegetable toppings rather than extra cheese or sausage.
      4. Fill up on healthy side dishes. If you’ve already consumed a lot of calories for the day, skip the French fries. Order a green salad with low fat dressing on the side. By putting the dressing on your own salad, you can control the quantity and therefore the calories.
      5. Avoid high calorie drinks. Soft drinks, shakes, and many cocktails can add on a lot of calories. Drink water with your meals. At the bar, order a small glass of white wine instead of a White Russian.
      6. Ask for slimmed-down dishes. Many restaurants offer lighter dishes for the health conscious. You can also ask for sauces on the side or substitute another vegetable for the potatoes.

      It can be challenging to eat right when you’re away from home. Planning ahead will help you avoid being tempted by fast food. A nutritious diet will give you the energy you need to enjoy your travels and return home without any excess baggage.