BLACK VOICES

Everybody Calm Down! 5 Ways To Decompress From The Stress Of Traveling

08/01/2014 02:32 pm ET | Updated Jan 06, 2015
huePhotography via Getty Images

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. 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 systems. 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 eight 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 to 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.

calm black person

Have a snack: Magnesium is known for its ability to calm the nervous system. Find a banana or some dark chocolate to munch on to help put you at ease.

black person banana

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.

black person massage

Sweet Scent: Aromatherapy and essential oils can help the brain relax. They can have a pharmacological effect on emotion, memory, hormones, and muscle relaxation. Lavender 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, bergamot – 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.

black person lavender

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.

black person jacuzzi

Follow Latham Thomas on Twitter.

  • In the morning, tune into Swell
    PureWow
  • Remember the day you discovered Pandora? You plugged in Arcade Fire. Then heard The National. And so on down the indie-fabulous rabbit hole. Now you can have that same exploratory experience, but with podcasts. Talk-radio fans, meet Swell. Swell is a free app that streams content (as short as one minute and up to two hours) from NPR, iTunes, the BBC and more, learning over time what you do and don’t like and making selections accordingly. When you sign up, Swell will start with fairly wide-ranging stuff. We got a 15-minute TED Talk about stress followed by a 17-minute BBC segment on the G20 summit followed by a one-hour This American Life episode about rest stops.
  • While you’re at work, stream Focus@Will
    PureWow
  • Did you know that most people can stay focused for only about 20 minutes at a time? And for those of us who live on the Internet, it’s more like a millisecond before... you... must... mustard... Dijon... Beyoncé... Wait, what were we saying? Oh, right. Life is distracting. And here to help is Focus@will, a new music streaming service ($4 per month after 100 free minutes) that’s designed to make you buckle down and concentrate. To get started, plug in your desired work time and preferred musical genre (classical, up tempo, “alpha chill,” etc.). The app will then stream a seamless playlist of focus-ready jams. We tried it for the recommended 100-minute cycle and were completely sold. We found a groove, stayed on task and hardly thought about Beyoncé at all.
  • Or, channel your energy with Soundrown
    PureWow
  • Oh, the joys of working from a coffee shop: The aroma of freshly brewed espresso. The sounds of cash registers and tapping keyboards. The wildly caffeinated energy that seems to scream, “This is 1994, and you are totally welcome to borrow my Collective Soul CD!” But in the sober light of 2013, who actually has time to camp out at Starbucks for hours on end? Don’t you kind of just want the coffee-shop vibe without having to go to an actual coffee shop? Well, now your house or office can at least sound like a busy café, thanks to a free new streaming website: Soundrown. Think of Soundrown as the Spotify of background noise. Just click on the channel of your choice and stream the ambient sounds you find most appealing -- say, a chugging train or a trickling fountain (not recommended on a full bladder). Each channel runs for about 30 minutes, and your computer can have other sounds going at the same time.
  • After work, blow off some steam with TempoRun
    PureWow
  • Scenario: You spent all day making what you thought to be the ultimate workout playlist. Yet, as soon as you set out on that brisk after-work jog, you realize that Diana Ross is much too fast. And Diddy? Surprisingly slow. Soon, you’re dragging your feet and wasting far too much time hitting “skip.” Don’t let your music drag you down. Instead, turn to the TempoRun app. Here’s how it works: Upon downloading, TempoRun ($3) assesses your phone’s music library and categorizes all your songs into levels: 1 (slow walk; adagio) to 10 (full-out sprint; allegro). Then, using the app’s sleek and easy-to-use interface, you can choose the level to which you’ll be running and Tempo Run seamlessly creates a playlist that perfectly matches your pace.
  • As you wind down after dinner, relax with Calm.com
    PureWow
  • Hey you...giant ball of stress wrapped in a neat little casing of “keeping it all together.” Maybe it’s time to put down the latte, call off the micromanagement and treat yourself to a few moments of genuine relaxation. No, we don’t mean an ashram getaway or tantric drumming class. Thanks to Calm.com, meditation can be as easy as popping on your headphones For two, 10 or 20 minutes, you’ll be treated to the sounds of forest rains, lapping tides or chirping birds (your choice from a list of blissful surroundings) as the world’s most soothing voice-over actress guides you through a series of breathing and visualization exercises. (Sense your arms becoming heavy… Allow your mind and body to meet in the moment…)
Suggest a correction
Comments

CONVERSATIONS