Flying can be exciting, especially if you’re venturing somewhere new or visiting loved ones, but it can be stressful at the same time. With delays, cancellations, and COVID-19 still lurking, understand that it’s okay to have a sense of uncertainty. You’re not alone.
Having an in-flight self-care routine can benefit your mental and physical health. These small gestures to take care of your body and mind can help you find a sense of calm and reduce the stress of travel. Not to mention, a flight might be the only time you need to prioritize yourself.
We spoke to experts for their tips on in-flight relaxation and rejuvenation, without annoying your seatmate. Here are their top tips:
Do some writing.
It can be tempting to tap into that in-flight WiFi as soon as you get airborne. However, take a break and ask yourself if you can disconnect from social media or work email, said Dr Nina Vasan, chief medical officer of Reala mental health platform.
She recommends spending time offline to focus on the present and note how you feel. Write about the things you are passionate about or what worries you right now. You can also follow a few prompts, like “if someone described me, what would they say?” or “when I look in the mirror, what do I see?” (Here are a few other options.)
If that doesn’t seem quick to you, try writing a letter to a friend. Thinking about a loved one is associated with more positive emotions – combine that with the therapeutic effects of writing, and you have yourself a beneficial way of jotting down the minutes of your trip.
Try box breathing.
Deep breathing is a practice that can evoke feelings of relaxation. Israel Nasirpsychotherapist and founder of “The Well.Guide”, recommends trying a “box breathing” exercise to physiologically calm your body.
“The technique implies that Iinhale for four counts, hold your breath for four counts, and exhale for four counts through your mouth or nose,” she said. Repeat as often as necessary to feel relaxed.
Indulge in your skincare routine.
“A skincare routine is a form of self-care that can feel therapeutic and soothing,” says New Jersey dermatologist Dr. Zain Husain.. Spending time caring for your skin can help you take a moment to reflect or even relax to rest.
In flight, take the opportunity to try a face mask or massage your skin with a face serum. “Airplanes can be dry environments, so remember to keep your skin hydrated by applying moisturizer as needed,” Husain said.
Take a nap.
Travel can be hectic and you will often have to compromise, especially when it comes to sleep. Getting good sleep is an important aspect of self-care that rests and recharges your body.
“Use flight time to close your eyes and catch up on sleep or just rest. Wear earplugs or listen to soothing music to help you disengage from the world around you,” Vasan said.
For added comfort, Nasir recommends wearing a sleep mask to help your body relax.
Self-care involves staying hydrated as drinking water is essential for good physical and mental health, said Supriya Lal, a New York-based dietitian. Dehydration can contribute to low energy levels and headaches.
After passing through the security checkpoint, don’t forget to take a bottle of water or refill your reusable bottle. You can also request water during in-flight beverage service while on board.
Try meditative coloring.
Meditative coloring is a practice that induces calm and mindfulness by resting your mind, Nasir explained. It creates space for you to creatively express your feelings while boosting your mood. Research shows that coloring can also relieve stress and can help you sit with blemishes (who really exactly colors the lines?) – all important mental health benefits.
Nasir recommends packing blank pages and coloring tools in your carry-on to use during the flight.
Read a book.
Enrich your mind by choosing a book from your favorite genre to read on board. Reading can help you focus and promote feelings of calm, Vasan said. Plus, it’s a great escape from the real world (which definitely isn’t quiet right now).
If you don’t have time to grab a physical book before boarding your flight, try downloading an e-book to your phone or tablet.
Eat something delicious.
Eating when hungry is a crucial aspect of taking care of yourself. “However, this can be difficult while traveling due to time zone changes, potential delays and the availability of on-plane dining options,” Lal said.
When packing your carry-on, don’t forget to add snacks you can munch on to satisfy your hunger, she recommended. Or grab something you like at the airport, like some candy you don’t eat often. Use it as a distraction-free time to savor what you’re eating, rather than rushing.