The holiday season brings with it lots of excitement, anticipation and joy. But it can also be a time of worry, stress and, for some, burnout. Especially when there’s travel involved, the holidays can seem like a chaotic time that puts a lot of pressure on people and their families.
When you’ve got gifts to transport and kids to account for, it can be difficult to stay in a positive mental and emotional space — there’s just so much going on. If you tend to feel overwhelmed due to holiday travel stress, you’re not alone. It’s a feeling many Americans face this time of year and something some of us have simply come to expect.
However, stress doesn’t have to consume you during the holidays. With a little preparation and conscious attention to your health and well-being, you can actually enjoy your time with family, rather than dread the lead up to it.
If you’re looking for ways to get a handle on your holiday travel stress, here are six tips for taking care of yourself during the busy festive season.
1. Know Your Stressors
Research has shown that the more stressful a holiday is, the less benefit you’ll get from it afterward. Instead of feeling refreshed and relaxed from your time off, a stressful holiday might continue to worry you even in the weeks following. By setting realistic expectations and taking steps to minimize your stress, you’ll be in a much better frame of mind to relax and enjoy the trip.
Knowing what triggers holiday stress for you is critical. How else can you help yourself manage stress if you haven’t identified what it is that stresses you out? Some of the most common holiday stressors are money and lack of planning. Traveling is expensive, so you may need several months to save to prevent a financial drain. And if the planning is what triggers your holiday travel anxiety, give yourself tools like checklists and travel apps that will help you get everything in order well ahead of time.
2. Stick to Healthy Habits
For so many of us, when the holidays hit, healthy habits go out the window. Sticking to proper exercise and diet routines is hard enough on a regular week. But if you’ve got the holidays coming up, and you know you’ll be traveling, then it’s likely your routine might fall apart — unless you have a plan.
According to the Mayo Clinic, abandoning healthy habits only adds to your stress. Their clinic staff recommends having healthy snacks a few hours before holiday meals so that you don’t overindulge on sweets or other unhealthy foods. You can also plan extra healthy meals the week before the holidays and think ahead about the meals you’ll have after you return. Having a plan makes it easier to stick to your healthy habits.
Similarly, with exercise, the Mayo Clinic also recommends making time for physical activity each day. “Exercise today, feel good tomorrow” is a good mantra to adopt during hectic times. Being physically active will give you the burst of energy you need to sustain yourself through your holiday visits. If possible, schedule in several blocks of time for exercise in the week leading up to your holiday travels.
3. Practice Self-Care
When there’s so much to do, it’s tempting to neglect your self-care to save time. You might think it’s better to spend your time planning, preparing, packing and checking items off your list. But don’t sacrifice your mental and emotional well-being just to feel more productive.
Instead, decide on your go-to self-care practice that you can turn to that keeps you calm and centered. Whether it’s a warm bubble bath, a long walk in nature or quiet time listening to gentle music, choose a self-care regime that you can rely on when things get particularly stressful.
4. Prioritize Sleep
Many people think that by skipping out on an hour or two of sleep, they’ll have more time to get more done. But a lack of sleep catches up with you and can quickly make you crash. If you’re so exhausted that you can’t enjoy yourself, then it really isn’t worth the extra time you saved.
If you tend to experience insomnia around the holidays, plan in advance for how you might deal with this challenge. Setting a regular bedtime routine, avoiding over-caffeinating during the day and getting plenty of daily exercise are all strategies for promoting better sleep.
5. Plan for the Unexpected
Be prepared for unexpected setbacks. Flight delays, lost luggage and unbearable winter weather are all potential risks involved in holiday travel. You can stay up-to-date on flight departures and delays by using travel apps. Also, be sure to check your email, as airlines typically send out notifications advising travelers of flight changes.
Don’t forget that lost luggage can happen to anyone, especially during the holidays when everything’s more chaotic. If you’re traveling with a group, divide up everyone’s items among multiple suitcases. That way, you’ll all have at least some of your belongings if a suitcase does go missing. It’s also smart to take a picture of your bag. If it does get lost, you’ll be able to look at the photo and easily describe your suitcase to the baggage claim personnel.
6. Prevent Travel Tantrums
When you’re traveling with little ones, it can increase travel stress exponentially. Most children are not known to be super great travelers, but with a little preparation, you can get them to adapt. Develop a ritual or routine for travel that your kids can come to expect and look forward to. Whether that’s a certain type of snack they know they get to have while traveling or a game you always play while on the road, kids can be kept content when they know what’s going on.
You can also stave off travel tantrums by preparing a travel care package for kids. In their care package, they might find toys, coloring pages or other things that can keep them entertained and occupied. When they do start getting cranky, engage them in the excitement of the holiday by reminding them of what to expect when you arrive at your destination.
Travel Better With Wellness Solutions From Relax The Back
With the right preparation and self-care tools, you can keep holiday travel stress at bay this year. For extra help keeping your cool, Relax The Back offers on-the-go wellness solutions perfect for traveling under holiday conditions.
Here are some of the ergonomic and therapeutic products that can help ease tension and promote better personal wellness while away from home.
Traveling can cause fatigue, stiffness and muscle tension, especially with the added stress of the holidays. Handheld massagers are small, portable devices that can gently melt away tension and pain. Light massaging motions also improve blood flow and release endorphins, putting you in a better holiday spirit. Browse our selection of handheld massagers you can take with you as you travel.
Sitting for extended periods while driving or flying can put significant pressure on your spine. As you hunch and slouch while seated, you may start to feel aches and pains, which can affect your mood and cause fatigue. Using ergonomic travel cushions and supports, you can keep your spine in proper alignment and alleviate pressure on your lower back. Shop our selection of portable ergonomic seat cushions for extra back and lumbar support as your travel.
One of the most stressful things about traveling is not having the comforts of home. If space allows, you might want to pack your own ergonomic pillow. Many people struggle with getting enough sleep while they’re traveling and in holiday mode. With ergonomic memory foam pillows from Relax The Back, you’ll be able to get better quality rest. Ergonomic and memory foam pillows cradle your head and neck, allowing you to relax fully and get a deeper sleep. Take your perfect pillow with you on-the-go, so you’ll get a better, more comfortable rest and feel less stressed.
Relax The Back has the perfect spinal health and wellness solutions to alleviate pain and stress no matter where you are. Shop our collections online today or drop by one of our locations to speak with a spinal health expert about the right solutions for you.