Holiday travel can be a headache. The airport is a zoo. Flight schedules are under the constant threat of winter weather. And as much as it's a luxury to be able to hop on a plane and visit far-away family members, crowded flights are often a breeding ground for coughs, colds, and flus that put a damper on holiday fun.
This year, brave the busy airports with our 4-step recipe for healthy holiday travels:
1. Rest Up to Rest Easy
It's no secret that stress and sleepless nights don't do your immune system any favors. Start prioritizing your wellness by:
Getting ahead on holiday planning: Remember, you don't have to do everything yourself! Delegate wherever possible to ensure a stress free holiday season.
Developing a Breathwork practice: Here are some quick tips from Nick Heath PhD, to help incorporate breathing exercises into your daily routine.
Getting the zzz you need! Don't save your sleep for vacation. Sleep has been shown to play a key role in both the innate and adaptive arm of your body’s defense system (Besedovsky, Luciana, et al., 2019). If you're not getting more than 7 hours a night, you’re probably not getting enough rest to support a healthy immune response!
2. Double Down on Healthy Habits
Physical exercise and a balanced diet are more important then ever in the winter months.
Take Simple Steps for Good Nutrition: According to Dr. Mani Kukreja, you should opt for as many organic and unprocessed foods as possible and do your best to moderate your intake of white sugar, as sugar has been known to contribute to inflammation in your gut lining. On the flipside, green veggies and high fiber foods have whole body benefits. Dare we recommend kale chips as a seasonal snack?
In addition to a balanced diet, you may want to consider high-quality nutritional supplements. Dr. Mani recommends targeted supplementation with probiotics and zinc, as well as Vitamin C and D. resB Lung Support is a targeted probiotic blend with herbals to support gut, lung, and immune health.
Make Time for Movement: Not only is exercise great for metabolic health and organ function, but it’s also a great tool to support a healthy immune system response. Regular, moderate exercise could even reduce inflammation and help your immune cells regularly regenerate (Simpson, Richard J, et al., 2015). Exercise can also boost your gut microbiome, improve bone density, and skeletal muscle.
3. Go Ham on Hand Hygiene
We all know by now the importance of washing our hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (the duration of Happy Birthday, or the chorus of the Bee Gees classic Stayin' Alive) before eating. As you navigate the escalator arm rails, sky train hand holds, seatbelt buckles and tray tables, more frequent washes is the way to go.
Pro Tip: Invest in a hydrating hand sanitizer, or bring your own hand lotion to keep your skin from drying out.
4. Mask Up for Safety
While face masks are now optional on most domestic flights, they are still recommended by the CDC for everyone ages 2+. A well fitting mask is an undeniably a great way to reduce your exposure and the exposure of those around you, and best practice is to wear your mask both in the airport and onboard your flight.
Do I really have to mask up for the entire journey? According to a recent interview with Harvard public health professor Joseph Allen, planes are equipped with virus-zapping ventilation systems that lower your infection risk at cruising altitude, but are less affective at the beginning and end of your flight.
If you don't want to mask up for the duration of your trip, consider masking up until it's time to open your tray table, and then again at the end of the flight, when asked to return your seat to the upright position.