I recently traveled internationally for a wedding. Although I was excited to arrive at my destination, the journey itself was less than stellar. After traveling overnight and missing my connection flight much drama ensued and the stress levels surged and by the time I arrived- my nervous system was fried. I was greeted by my dear friend, who took the liberty of booking me a spa treatment prior to my arrival, because after all I endured to get there- I just needed to relax.
I was so grateful and could not think of a better way to spend my first 90 minutes on terra firma.
A busy lifestyle can cause physical, emotional and mental fatigue and can have negative effects on our nervous system. Vacation is supposed to take us away from that stress we encounter day-to-day but traveling can at times make it challenging.
The nervous system not only supervises stress, but also controls the body’s reactions afterward. Signaling the heart rate to revert back to a normal rate is not possible when there is constant stress preventing the restorative stress response. When the body can’t fully recover from stress the systems that are suspended during the stress response will not operate effectively. So when you are sitting in the airport for 8 hours on a delay missing the first day of your vacation and you’re traveling with busy toddlers, and a moody pre-teen the best thing to do first is breathe- deeply.
Just Breathe: Close your eyes and take 10 long deep full breaths to restore your nervous system so you can be calmer and make better decisions.
Have a Snack: Magnesium is known for it’s ability to calm the nervous system. Find a banana or some dark chocolate to munch on to help put you at ease.
Get Touched: Massage therapy will increase circulation and blood flow and it also depresses the nervous system, slowing down the body and promoting the sensation and desire for rest. Swedish massage is a popular and effective technique. You can find express massage stations in airports and if you want to wait for the full body treatment where you can completely unwind- book it at your hotel prior to your arrival.
Sweet Scent: Aromatherapy and essential oils can help the brain relax. They can have a pharmacological effect on emotion, memory, hormones, and muscle relaxation. Lavander impacts both the left and right brain hemispheres helping to calm the mind and encourage regenerative rest. Aromatherapy treatments integrate scents and therapeutic touch to help quiet the nervous system. Travel with your own “scent kit” to stave off stress- some oils to include: lavender, bergamont- which is a mood enhancer, and rose. Apply roil on oils to your temples and place a drop in between both hands- rub them together, then take a deep breath in while covering your hands over your face.
Wade in the Water: Hot and Cold therapies are an ancient healing technique. People of nearly every culture have enjoyed the benefits of hydrotherapies. Hot and cold water therapies are designed to increase temperature, pulse rate, and respiration. After a treatment like this you must rest to feel the sensation of calm. Cold water can act as a tonic stimulant. Helping to increase circulation and eliminate the stress toxins from the body. Visit your hotel spa for the steam room if there is no Jacuzzi on site.
This piece originally ran on Huffington Post Black Voices