Travel can be extremely stressful, an understatement for sure. Travel to the airport, TSA, and what seems to be ever-changing rules that vary agent to agent and airport to airport. Then consider the lines for coffee and bathroom — impossible! One would think, once you’ve boarded all is well, but it almost never goes the way you want. You have the seat recliners, loud talkers, and noise from every direction. It can all wear pretty thin on your patience, mental state and build a level of frustration that makes you question humanity and scream!
If that was your last flight or almost every flight. There are ways to make this unavoidable holiday travel somewhat bearable. There’s always a stiff Bloody Mary, but if that’s not your jam, a small practice of mindfulness might be just what you need to calm down, get centered and feel better about the entire experience.
Help is just a breath away
Try these three methods on your next trip at each phase of your trip, you may be surprised at how much more enjoyable life will be.
This first tip is likely the most important of all the and undoubtedly the hardest to accomplish. Breathing is something often taken for granted but if done correctly can alter your mood and calm your nerves almost instantly. The important thing is not to stress about if you’re breathing correctly, you will be if you do the following:
- Place your hand just over your belly button; it doesn’t matter which hand.
- Now take a deep breath inward but expanding your belly; your hand should move out as you take in breaths and inward as you exhale. Make sure to take at least three deep breaths.
- Now exhale through your mouth, letting all the stress of the moment leave with that exhalation.
Repeat this three times at each phase of your trip. On your way to the airport, as you’re exiting the TSA line or security, and then again after you’ve boarded your flight. It might help to visualize something refreshing or sunlight as you inhale the clean air going in and as you exhale the bad air leaves your body like a dark sky clearing after a storm.
The purpose of this exercise is to resupply your body with oxygen which helps you to think more clearly by sending more oxygenated blood to your brain. Plus the added benefit of taking a few slow deep breaths will slow your breathing and could even aid in lowering your blood pressure, of course, this shouldn’t be considered as medical advice but there is some interesting research on deep breathing and the health benefits in this article from the Harvard Medical School.
Smile, yes smile. It may seem silly but smiling is a gesture that tells others around you that you’re safe. Not only does it tell others you’re safe, but people will also smile back at you. Of course, you can’t just walk around with a big grin on your face walking through the airport but you can make an effort to smile every time you make eye contact with your fellow travelers and even the TSA agents. When you smile as mentioned in Psychology Today, your brain releases dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin, so not only do you relax you get a natural pain reliever! Ever notice how babies react when you smile at them? They usually smile back or start to laugh, because as the article mentions smiling is contagious.
Laughing is an action that’s not only going to make you feel better it could help others around you feel better as well. Now laughing in the face of travel woes may be hard to do but trust that it’s worth it in the end. When waiting in line a small chuckle to your self may help you find some humor in the situation. If the person checking you out at the airport magazine store or food shop is a bit rude smile and try to say something funny if your attempt at humor fails, laugh at the failure and point out how bad the joke was. The point is to find humor in the experience of travel. Laughing could even benefit your health and improve your immune system according to an article by the Mayo Clinic, stating that “laughter may be good for long-term health.
So the next time you’re stuck in the airport for that family vacation or business travel, remember to breathe, smile and laugh your way to your destination.
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