Thinking of all the upcoming travel of the holidays got me comparing this current season of late autumn-early winter which we term ‘Metal’ in Chinese medicine, to the ‘Vata’ season of Ayurveda. They are both this same time of year, where the weather is changing, air is dryer, people are busy, the energy is light, a bit chaotic, fast paced, and the upper parts of our bodies are often affected by illness easily. Classic AIR element qualities. How do you stay healthy and grounded during this intensely flighty phase of the season? Here are my top wellness tips for your holiday travels but note, these are beneficial tips for any wellness routine, regardless of season! Featured Image via Heather Gallagher
1/ Stay Hydrated In and Out
The Metal season can be intensely drying. Hydration is key in balancing this extreme. Drink as much water and herbal teas as possible, especially before & during flight. With air travel especially, consider bringing a hydrosol (floral water) spray to moisten & clean the air around you and to spray directing on your skin. Rosewater or lavender hydrosols are my favorites to keep your skin hydrated and your mood lifted during travel!
2/ Pack Your Own Food
Choose more warming & moist foods vs. dry & crunchy ones when you travel. The nature of these foods will balance your body and help you stay grounded. Pack healthy, whole foods snacks to take on airplanes and eat & drink frequently. There is no reason one should need to rely on “airport food” when traveling as you can bring as much food as you like on board – make some homemade energy superfood bars ahead of time and pack plenty of fruit, nut mixes, etc. Many health-food companies now also make to-go sticks and pouches of matcha tea / protein powder / nut butters which are perfect for travel.
3/ Comforting Herbs
Having some herbal tea bags on hand is of great help during travel. Ginger tea, Lavender/Chamomile, or Cinnamon Tea are some of my favorites to bring along that are comforting and balancing to the season. Ginger can help with digestion and motion sickness, lavender can help with stress, restlessness, and sleep, and cinnamon tea is a warming, sweet, and grounding counter-balance to the lightness and dryness of this late fall-early winter season of Vata.
Whether you take along probiotic sticks, packets, or capsules this will be a great boon for your immune system over the holidays when your eating habits go awry. Keep your gut flora balanced with a daily probiotic to help prevent against immune system deficiencies, especially if you are traveling to a foreign country.
5/ ER Travel Kit
As a mom, I’m always loosely considering a worst-case scenario in the back of my mind. Having a first aid travel kit keeps my nerves calm and can come in handy! I pack a ziploc of slippery elm lozenges for sore throats, band aids, Thieves oil hand wipes, Herbal Zap packets, Vitamin C, thermometer, herbal pediatric tinctures, loquat cough syrup, Arnica cream, and yes, Motrin. Never hurts to be prepared!
6/ Essential oils
Essential oils can help protect the body’s energy, clean germs, and also help you relax and destress. They pack easily! On Guard by DoTerra can be used as an immune protectant/anti-microbial cleanser, lavender and peppermint can combine for a lovely calmative effect, frankincense can also calm the nervous system and help with headaches and fatigue.
7/ Cover your Neck / Wear Layers
Chinese medicine teaches us that our upper bodies, like the the top branches of trees, are most effected by windy climates. Wind can carry with it cold, viruses, and pathogens that pass from person to person. Covering your neck and upper back with a scarf or blanket when exposed to wind or cold air when traveling can help protect you from catching colds. We are most vulnerable to this during the Air element season of Metal/Vata during the holidays. Bring all the layers when packing and flying to keep your body at a safe and protected temperature at all times.
8/ Continue with Routine and Daily Rhythms
As much as possible, try to continue with your daily wellness routines when you travel. If you exercise each morning, try to do that on your vacation or trip at the same time each day. Same with meal times, afternoon walks, nap times, bed times, etc. The Vata / Air / Metal season can be excessively fluctuating, irregular, and flighty especially when travel is involved – one way to balance this is with stability and consistency in your daily life.
For more on Sarah, follow her at @medicine_kitchen. This post was originally posted in December 2017.