It’s going to be a long flight. You are already gearing up to reduce the effects of jet lag by taking Melatonin, drinking lots of water, and cutting back your usual alcohol intake. Unfortunately, when you finally disembark half-way around the world, your body hasn’t fully re-set your biological clock, and you are face down in the hotel pillow by noon. Well, you did your best, or did you?
Everyone knows that good nutrition, regular exercise and relaxation promote optimum health, but before an extended flight these health boosters become essential. They prepare the body for its fight against jet lag. So how can you easily incorporate them into your lifestyle?
Before your trip, increase your Omega-3 foods by filling most of your plate with sautéed or stir-fried greens like spinach, bok choy, kale, or green beans. For your protein eat only lamb, grass fed beef, flax-fed chicken, or wild caught fish. Then go nuts! Eat an assortment of pistachios, almonds, and walnuts. Don’t forget to eat fresh fruit daily.
Instead of a large breakfast, start your day with a protein snack. Avoid a heavy lunch by keeping a hard boiled egg, nuts, or a piece of fruit handy to munch anytime. At dinner think small again, but have another protein snack before retiring.
If you already have an exercise program in place, stay with it. If you don’t ordinarily exercise, don’t launch a heavy-duty workout schedule just before a long trip, but start walking each day. It’s a good idea to increase your distance gradually, so the more time you allow yourself before your trip, the more benefit you’ll enjoy from this exercise routine.
Relaxation is equally as important as good nutrition and exercise to prepare you for a time zone change. One of the most effective relaxation techniques is Yoga stretching and breathing. Start a simple Yoga warm-up routine before you travel and use that routine while you are in the air as well as when you arrive at your destination.
Here are three easy warm-ups. Lying on a comfortable flat surface, place your palms on your lower abdomen. Pay attention to your breathing. Push your abdomen out on the inhale and let it drop back on the exhale. Repeat this slowly a few times, deepening your breath each time. Gently warm up by bringing one knee at a time into your chest. Inhale and exhale. Now straighten your legs onto the floor, raise your hands overhead, inhale, and, with knuckles touching the floor, stretch. Exhale. Return your arms to your sides, and repeat the knee and arm raises as many times as feels comfortable. Lying with your legs on the floor and your arms at your sides palms up close your eyes and take a few more deep abdominal breaths. These gentle exercises are enough to tell your mind and your body it’s time to unwind.
Once you’re in flight, do the deep abdominal breathing in your seat. Walk to the back of the plane when you need a break from sitting. Lean against the side of the plane and lift one knee at a time just as you did on the floor at home, but now do it standing. Stretch your arms overhead and breathe in, lower your arms and exhale. Moving the body with the breath requires that you concentrate. When you are concentrating on your body-breath coordination, you aren’t stressing about the meeting you have to attend, the new house-sitter you’ve left in charge at home, or anything else. For those few minutes you are focused on you and you have no choice but to relax.
Healthy food, sensible exercise, and relaxation go hand in hand to help you overcome the effects of time zone change on your circadian rhythms. Add these strategies to the others that haven’t quite worked and see if you aren’t more alert for your business or pleasure once you reach your destination.