Wellbeing on a Plane
I’m off to Thailand today to join an amazing yoga retreat called Pure Flow Yoga in Koh Phangan. Ironically I’ve been so excited (and feeling so lucky) about this that I’ve been unable to breathe – so now I’m in real need of the meditation! I love flying, so I’m super excited to be in the sky but, that said, from the UK, it’s nearly 12 hours on a plane to Bangkok and then another 1.5 hours connecting flight to Ko Samui! Being thousands of feet high in the air, in a cramped space, with radiation and limited, recycled oxygen, little sleep and jet lag – alongside all the various germs that we are exposed to onboard – causes all sorts of wellbeing challenges for us so, as a Complementary Therapist, I decided I’d write about how to keep yourself balanced naturally this holiday season!
Here are some of my natural ‘plane’ necessities
Sleep and Battle Bugs with Essential Oils!
Now I know we have limited amounts of liquids and space in our hand luggage, but essential oils are key for your flight! If we have to pick only two to take, it’s Tea Tree and Lavender! Lavender is great for helping you relax – for those of you who get fearful about flying – and can help you dose off (don’t forget your eye mask!). Tea Tree can help battle any germs on board as it is anti-viral and generally cleansing. They’re also the only two essential oils you can apply neat, and have all sort of other properties that may be useful once you’re there! I get my essential oils from Base Formula. Just apply a few drops to the pulse points on your wrists during the flight – or use a few drops as hand sanitiser.
Keep Skin Hydrated
Next up on my list is perhaps obvious – water! Flights are so dehydrating, so it’s crucial to keep up your fluids. I know my skin feels awful if I don’t drink enough water – and I definitely avoid alcohol. Likewise, what you put on your skin ends up in your body so, to stay natural you need to pre-prepare your flight bag rather than buying shop-bought moisturisers at the airport. I created a simple blend to bring to keep my skin happy on-board:
- Mix 10ml of Jojoba carrier oil with 1 drop Geranium and 1 drop Rose essential oil and put it into a 10ml pot. Apply as and when desired.
You can use this during the flight as a body and facial moisturiser. Not only are these oils hydrating but they smell great too! Alternatively, choose an essential oil you’re drawn to the smell of and check that it has hydrating properties – you generally like the scent of whatever your body needs.
I wouldn’t go on a flight without my homeopathic remedies – though it’s best to keep them away from the scanner as they are not meant to be exposed to xray machines. Also, it’s best to carry a sign explaining that they are ‘safe and natural medicines’ in various different languages (as I once found out whilst I was being cross-examined in Bali!).
In flight, you are literally lifted out of your body and into the sky, so it’s easy to see how you can need grounding both during and after a plane journey! It’s actually quite a shock to the system to be so high in the air. The easiest option is to buy a specific flight combination remedy – I love a product called ‘Jet Ease’ which you take 1 tablet every 2 hours throughout the flight but it’s only been available as I’ve seen within foreign airports (mine was from Dubai) – which you can order pre-holiday from a homeopathic pharmacy such as Helios or Ainsworths. However, you can also ask a Homeopath to prescribe you some individual remedies – they may even be able to help with prophylactic remedies to try and prevent against nasties like Malaria whilst you’re away. One of the best remedies for easing jet lag is Arnica, so if you only have that it’s worth taking!
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway: Rescue Remedy
Another useful thing to take if you suffer fear on flights – or even if you don’t as you never know when you might want it – is Rescue Remedy. This product is great for restoring balance energetically when you’re feeling scared. Pop a few drops on your tongue as and when required and feel the calm.
Travel Sickness Bands
If, like me, you get a little bit ‘air-sick’, try a natural alternative to combat it. I love my Motion Medic travel bands. They work by putting pressure on particular acupressure meridian points (such as in Traditional Chinese Medicine) and this sends signals via the nervous system to prevent the sickness. Give them a go!
Breathe and Meditate
You might love flying or you might hate it (or maybe you’re in between); either way, you’ll need to breathe through the fear or – if you’re like me – the excitement! As you’re taking off (and even before it it’s just too much on the run up to the runway!), and every few hours on the plane, just let yourself have a mini meditation.
Try and focus on your breathing, at first just observing it’s natural pattern – your innate capability to keep yourself alive – and don’t try and change it. After a while, focus on lengthening your inhale to a count of 6, pausing for a count of 4 at the top of your inhale and then exhaling for a count of 8. Repeat this for about 5 minutes at a time, inhaling safety and exhaling any fear. Observe what thoughts are coming up and let them go – visualise sending them back down to earth in a bubble, or however it helps you to visualise sending them away. Repeat the mantra ‘I am safe’. Just the breathing space can help you overcome your anxieties about flying (or calm your over-excitement).
Seated Yoga Stretches: Head to Toe
Now, of course, there is always the issue of being totally and utterly cramped which means we can’t really move for a good length of time, causing stiffness – unless of course you’re in First Class but, even then, it’s great to try and keep moving! Some say there can be an increased risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis when flying, so it’s really important to stay mobile to keep the circulation moving. Here are some tips you can try throughout the flight – do a few minutes on each and try to flow the movement with your breath on the inhale and exhale (I’m doing mine as I write and, yes, I do look a little bit odd but it’s all in the name of health!):
- Head circles – starting in the centre, roll your neck gently one side and then back to centre, before gently rolling the other way.
- Neck stretches – place your left hand on the right side of your head and gentle hold your head to the left until you feel a stretch before placing it back to centre and repeating with the right hand on the left side of your head.
- Shoulder rolls – roll both shoulders backwards and then forwards in huge circles
- Arm stretches – lift both arms up into the air, with palms interlaced up towards the roof, looking up into the space between your hands
- Side lifts – now just take one arm up and then meet it with the other to hold its wrist – extend up through the side body to feel a stretch through the side – repeat on the other side
- Hunches – holding each opposite elbow at the same time, place your arms out in front of you, hunch your chest forwards and then arch your back alternately
- Arm twist – place your right elbow over your left elbow and try to wrap your left hand around the arm to clasp your palms together. Tuck your neck down and push up through your back, feeling the stretch. Breathe and repeat.
- Pelvic tilts – with your knees together, roll the pelvis forwards and backwards, feeling a natural curve of the base of your spine tucking under and then arching back
- Feet together – place the soles of your feet together and open your hips as wide as you can without disturbing your neighbour, perhaps squeezing the buttocks and releasing alternately
- Tippy toe lifts – keeping your toes on the ground, lift up onto your heels and then counter it with pulling your toes as far up towards your legs as you can
- Ankle rolls – rotate your ankles clockwise and anti-clockwise to keep them moving
- Full stretch – if possible, try and stretch out your legs and whole body by getting up and walking about every few hours. You can even try some of the exercises above standing which may look a little less strange if you’re self-conscious (I’m clearly not – I‘m used to what I like to call the ‘puppy dog look’ now!)
With that in mind, I’m off for a little walk in the aisle to keep myself moving and shaking. If you’re flying off somewhere nice this Summer, remember to read these hints and prepare all your products before you go! Enjoy your flying.