One of the things I’ve discovered is that our self-care habits tend to take a back seat to other priorities when we’re traveling or in a new environment.
In fact, it’s when you’re taken out of your routine that you need self-care more than ever.
I define self-care as the simple act of taking care of yourself. Yes, before others. Yes, even when it’s not easy. We can only offer the best of ourselves to those who need us when we’ve addressed our own needs. (This goes against everything we’re taught as women. And it’s definitely a topic for a longer blog post I’ll be writing.)
Since many of you will be traveling this summer—from family visits to international destinations to local parks and cities—I thought I’d share what I’ve learned about taking care of myself in different environments from living in 6 cities around the world and traveling to 18 countries.
This is part one in a four-part series for the Jewish Food Hero blog on self-care while traveling.
In today’s post, we’ll be talking about your physical self-care.
Physical self-care is simply taking care of your body. Our bodies do most of the hard work for us in new environments—enduring long drives or plane rides, traveling during late or early hours, and not having access to your usual food.
Here are my five tips for taking care of yourself physically while traveling:
It’s not always possible to bring a yoga mat or yoga clothing with you when you travel. However, there are so many poses and stretches that don’t require those things, and can be done even while you’re sitting or standing.
My favorite yoga poses when I’m traveling are seated overhead stretch, seated twist, forward bend, legs up the wall, child’s pose, and tree pose.
Walking for energy
We tend to walk a lot more when we’re visiting a new place than we do in our home city. It’s my favorite way to get a feel for the city I’m in and orient myself to my surroundings. Sometimes, though, endless walking can be draining.
Try planning short walks of 30 minutes during the times when you most need energy, like when you’ve just reached your lodging destination after a plane ride or car trip. I also do this after meals to help digest my food and in the morning to start my day.
Many of us don’t realize what our body needs until it’s too late—and then we may become irritated and upset from hunger, thirst, or fatigue. This happens because we’re usually rushing from one activity or attraction to the next while traveling, trying to pack the most into every day.
My antidote to that is slowing down. After finishing a visit to a museum or hike or day at the beach, pause and tune in to your body. See if it needs anything, and give it to your body before you move on to the next thing.
Food that nourishes
I’m that person who brings her favorite food staples with her wherever she goes (I’ve been known to pack oatmeal and real salt in my suitcases). You don’t have to go that far, though remember we do tend to indulge in foods that we wouldn’t normally eat while we’re traveling (this is absolutely part of the thrill of travel).
The types and amounts of food that your body prefers, however, don’t change when you’re traveling. Try to incorporate those foods that most nourish your body in-between the indulgences. It can be as simple as snacking on fresh fruit instead of chips, drinking one glass of water for every glass of another beverage, and experimenting with indulging for just one meal a day instead of all three.
Sleep and rest to restore
Even if you aren’t crossing major time zones, early mornings and late nights are often par for the course with traveling. And if you are, jet lag really disturbs your body’s equilibrium.
Sleep is restorative for every function of your body. If you’re in a new time zone, follow that schedule right away. Get eight full hours of sleep at night, and take short 30-minute naps during the day to gain energy. If you’re not the napping type, simply laying down and closing your eyes can work wonders.
It makes me feel good to know I don’t have to forego my self-care practices when I change environments. Practicing these five tips has truly helped me to take care of my body while I’m traveling, ensuring I feel my best for the exciting new experiences that await me.
Food for thought: What do you do to take care of your body while traveling?