I freaking love traveling the world. My husband LOVES using Expert Flyer to book our trips and get us fantastic deals, but jet lag, oh jet lag confuses the living daylights out of me!
I don’t mean the effect of jet lag on my body or brain because that alone can drive you dizzy with confusion. I mean I wish someone could explain to me why traveling from from North America to the South Pacific, where one loses many hours in timezone difference, does not cause me much jet lag at all but coming home leaves me dazed and foggy for a week!
Our trip routes were as such:
Outbound Departure Route: Raleigh-Dallas-Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne.
Resulting Jet lag: None. I slept in a little bit the following morning in Melbourne but I couldn’t wait to hit the streets. No jet lag, no exhaustion, no confusion!
Middle Route: Sydney-Queenstown.
Resulting jet lag: Short 4-hour flight. 2-hour time loss. Absolutely no jet lag! Queenstown was magical but still, jet lag is jet lag!
Inbound Arrival Route: Wellington-Auckland-HongKong (2-day stay-over) then HongKong-Japan-NewYork-Raleigh.
Resulting jet lag: Very little jet lag while in Hong Kong; had a long full day of walking and activity. But in Raleigh, jet lag has hit me like a ton of bricks!
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Side note: All these trips were in business class. I have paid my dues in coach seats, and jet lag was always heightened by those crammed spaces and endless long hours around the globe with lots of time to ponder what to do or wherever my destination may have been. Today, I try to avoid coach class as much as possible. I do believe this is a key indicator in lessening jet lag: the comfort of the actual trip and business and first class service make a huge difference. I have come to believe they are well worth the price or what it takes to get them in an upgrade system (hint: lots and lots of flying with the same airline).
Nonetheless, none of this fully explains the heavy jet lag that has hit me since my return home. When I return from Asia or the South Pacific, jet lag is, well, a female dog if you will! And how I have tamed this female dog to behave as a darling little puppy is the topic of this blog post.
Jet Lag Myths
Apparently, you can always expect jet lag when losing time as opposed to gaining. Well, my friends, I’m afraid that theory has holes in it. I have traveled the world for a decade now and if I am not switching at least a couple of time zones, I don’t even count it as a trip, and let me tell you that jet lag is simply unpredictable. It can happen to some of us while others go unscathed! It can come about from the shortest trip even from nice business seats and it can skip you altogether on the longer ones. But what do you do when it really hits you hard?
The tips around recovering from jet lag generally go like this: Sleep when it’s time to sleep in the new time zone, otherwise, stay awake, and oh good luck!
That advice has never helped me much; it is simply not practical. First off, I believe it is harsh to force my body into staying awake for hours when it is dying to go to sleep or force it to go to sleep when I cannot produce a single yawn. It is simply unnatural.
Instead, I use a natural approach to recovering from severe jet lag without forcing your body into anything. It is a gentle, loving, and healing approach for the exhausted, dehydrated, confused, and sleep-deprived mind and body and spirit, and it works every single time, baby!
You will need the luxury of a flexible schedule with a few short days to yourself with some of these tips. Natural healing takes time!
As I write this, it has been 48 hours since we landed, and my productivity, despite the serious jet lag, has been to the roof. This is not because I am full of energy or back to my normal energized state. It is because the approach I have been using is not about forcing the body but rather, listening to the body and sleeping when it begs you to sleep, working when it wants to work, and getting up when it calls you to rise.
Power Tips to Heal Your Body, Skin and Mind after Jet Lag
Now come hither so I give you the secret yet natural ways I have developed, a system that started few years ago when I was traveling far from home. Even if you implement just a few of these, I can assure you will see immediate healing:
1. Staying Awake or Going to Sleep as Desired: This is probably the big shocker. I have tried everything else and this is the only thing that works. This might mean staying up all night and going to bed the next morning and waking up in the afternoon. Then adjusting your body slowly, 2-3 hours a day, over the course of a few days. I do realize the limitation on this but if you have the flexibility, I highly recommend that you slowly nudge yourself into the right time zone.
2. Stretching or Doing Your Yoga: Even if you do not do any yoga at all, still find time and space to stretch your body. Use my 10 Minute Invigoration video program. Find something you like on YouTube or just learn a sequence for your upper body, neck, shoulder, and especially, most especially, your hips. Your hips tend to be the tightest from sitting and from walking, and stretching them is the best way to release that tension and avoid injuries.
3. Greeting the sun: I do not advocate that you stay awake during sunlight hours if your body is dying to go to sleep. I do suggest that if you are awake, and your body is happy to stay awake during the recovery period, then spend some time in the sun, either in a sun room in your house, if it’s cold outside, or outdoors. The sun helps your rhythms return to normal gently, and the Vitamin D can be extremely good for you. Also, it is a nice relaxing and calming way to spend the time.
4. Doing Hydration Therapy: Plane and train travel, even in the nice front section of the airplane, make you seriously dehydrated. Your skin loses lots of moisture and vitality during long plane rides. Your body tends to lean toward dehydration, even if you are drinking water during the trip. This is completely natural but you need to work to reverse it. Use home hydration therapy as many times a day as you like. I drop some essential oils in my humidifier and give my face a home facial for at least 10-15 minutes a day. Or just run your humidifier. Also, take hot showers and then moisturize your body to keep in the hydration.
5. Drinking Lemon and Hot Water: I use this when I feel a cold coming on or when my voice is going weak. Half a fresh lemon squeezed into hot water is a wonderful way to wake up your body with some Vitamin C boost. If it’s too sour for you, you can add some raw honey. Drink this after you wake up from a nap or from sleep, and preferably before you take in any caffeine.
6. Sipping Oolong Tea: I think I will be the official cheerleader for Oolong tea one of these days. And that is only for the nice fine loose-leaf version of Oolong tea. We visited a lovely small tea shop in Hong Kong, where the Chinese woman and I communicated without a problem, and without a common language, about the benefits of Oolong tea. It is easy to do that when you both love the same thing. The benefits of this tea are enormous: purifying, cleansing, detoxifying for the body, and returning your digestive system back to full operation!
7. Making Green Juices: To be honest, right now, my old juicer is out on loan and a new juicer is waiting to be ordered so this time, I have not been juicing upon return but it is part of the routine and so here goes. Usually, green juicing is phenomenal for your health. One of the many reasons I created my latest product. But it’s especially helpful in fighting jet lag and exhaustion. The burst of fresh vegetable juice and all the essential nutrients help your body with re-hydration and refresh you inside out. I would focus on lighter green juices and a lot of citrus-based juices. If you can’t juice, eat lots of raw vegetables!
8. Consuming Lots of Water: Drinking tons of plain water is still a challenge for me. I like to drink when I am thirsty but I do make an effort to drink more. My water is room temperature filtered water. I think freezing cold water can be too harsh on your body during recuperation. Drink as much as you can. Drink especially after coffee or tea and before meals and before sleep and after rising.
9. Keeping Germs at Bay: This one is a tough one but if you can manage it, it will help you stay healthy. When you return from long trips, your immune system is weakened; from the poor eating, lack of exercise, travel stress or the stuffy air during transport, your body is not at its optimal state, even if you have no symptoms of sickness. Try to stay away from places that are full of human germ such as schools and crowded work places and subways and other public areas. To be honest, I stay home and rarely go out for a whole week and it’s perfect.
9. Eating Home-Made Food: Food can be a major recovery or cause more havoc. I recommend eating home-made food, in small and frequent portions but eat whenever hungry even if it’s 3am or 11pm. You know the difference between craving bad food and being really hungry so honor your body when it says it wants food. Same as sleep. Stay away from bad food and junk food, naturally.
10. Taking Your Vitamins and Minerals: If you take them, continue taking them and be consistent about it. Your body can use the help in getting stronger and the vitamins and minerals that may be absent in your nutrition can come through these supplements. If you don’t normally take them, then perhaps plan to incorporate them later after researching what is right for your body.
11. Committing to Mindfulness: Centering ourselves, grounding the body and quieting the mind are the most powerful healing measures, and mindfulness can bring that about. For me, it’s meditation (using my favorite guided tracks). For you, it may be prayer or something different. Keep your mind at peace and calm and avoid all confrontation and stressful work as long as possible. So long as you can sit in solitude, and be grateful for all that you have experienced, and be patient with jet lag and all other things awaiting your attention, you can be assured of a healing beyond your imagination.
Got tips on overcoming jet lag? I am all ears. Please share them, especially if they are from your direct experience! Happy travels, wherever you may go, and may you only have jet lag at home and never at destination, if you must have it at all!
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