The travel season is in full swing with summer vacations, family reunions and cross-country road trips filling up your personal calendar. While you’re off enjoying beach houses, monuments, national parks and prime summer destinations it’s important to be mindful of the toll vacationing can take on your mind and body.
To help reduce the mental and physical stress associated with this year’s traveling season, incorporate the following tips into your itinerary for overall health and wellness during your trip.
Melt Away Mental Stress
From the time a vacation is confirmed on your calendar to when you arrive home with piles of dirty laundry and memories to last a lifetime, summer vacations can mentally tax you and your family. To help minimize vacation stress, Amy O’Connor, massage therapist at Elements Chandler/Ahwatukee, suggests that you make a concentrated effort to relax by adopting a flexible attitude that embraces the unexpected events that can surface during your trip.
“Sometimes, you work yourself up and put so much pressure on yourself that you can miss out on enjoying your vacation,” O’Connor said. “You’ve put so many expectations on your plans, you may feel disappointed if plans change. If you tell yourself to just go with the flow, you can open a new window to new experiences.”
O’Connor also suggests that you make it a point during your vacation to schedule relaxation and rejuvenation time for both you and your family. Whether it’s a quiet walk on the beach with your spouse, watching the sunset on your patio or enjoying a dip in your hotel hot tub, making a point to slow down and enjoy the simple parts of your trip can make a world of difference to your mental health.
“I hear a lot from clients that they need a vacation from their vacation because they tried to do too much during their trip,” O’Connor said. “I tell these clients to try to get a massage during their trip to not only relax, but to experience the different types of massage therapies that are available from all around the country and the world.”
Relieve Physical Tension
Your body can take quite a beating during a long summer trip, especially if you spend hours driving cross country or jet setting internationally. The most common areas of your body that can experience physical tension and strain from traveling include:
- Neck and Shoulders: Driving long distances with your hands in the two and ten position, sleeping with your head leaning on the window, and bunking up in different beds and pillows during your trip can lead to kinks and stiffness in your neck and shoulder area. To help minimize soreness during your travels, make sure to adjust your seat height and distance from the steering wheel to a comfortable level, take deep breaths throughout your trip to relax your shoulders, and schedule regular pit stops along your route to loosen the tension in your upper and lower body from sitting for long periods of time. Traveling with your own pillow also can make a big difference for providing neck support as a passenger in a car/airplane, as well as help to improve your sleep during your trip.
- Feet: Whether your travel plans include sightseeing by foot to all of the area’s landmarks or playing in the ocean and running around the beach area, your feet can quickly become tired and sore. O’Connor suggests regular foot massages to relieve the daily stress that can accumulate in your feet. If you don’t have someone to massage your feet for you, make sure to pack a golf ball in your travel bag. You can rub a golf ball back and forth under your foot to release tension and relieve soreness from walking a lot during your vacation.
- Legs: If you are stuck in a car or airplane seat for an extended period of time and an opportunity to get up and move around is nowhere in sight, you can help alleviate leg pain by simply pointing your toes down to the ground and then lifting or flexing them upward. Repeating this point and flex motion over the course of your trip can help to improve the blood circulation throughout your legs.
“Your calf muscles are known as the second heart because they shoot blood up your leg when you contract them,” O’Connor said. “Contracting your calf muscle helps blood in your lower leg circulate up your leg faster, helping to increase the blood flow.”
Make it a point this summer to have a travel experience that is more relaxing, enjoyable and memorable than ever before. By packing a more flexible attitude and being mindful of your body throughout your trip, you will be well on your way to a great summer vacation.