11 Power Tips to Recover From Jet Lag: The Healing Approach

Aerial View of Queenstown, New Zealand

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.

Wakatipu Lake Paradise

Jet Lag Myths

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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.

Traveling near Lakes in New Zealand

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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  • Adam

    Some really good tips here, I’m always hopping on and off Commercial Jets for work. Although my mind and body never seem to move as fast as my lifestyle! Thanks again.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Commercial jet? Ouch, tough life ;)!
      Good for you. And body and mind are not meant to move at corporate speed. That is part of the problem! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Adam.

  • http://www.freelancewritingblog.com Ruth – The Freelance Writing Blog

    Farnoosh, I’m afraid this post is lost on me. I’m a ridiculously phobic flyer (though I don’t have any other phobias) and coach/1st class, jet lag/restful flight, meal/no meal, time gained/time lost – it’s all completely meaningless to me as long as the pilot lands the plane safely and without incident.

    I know it’s illogical, but I actually believe every time I board a plane that I am about to die. I have all of these silly rituals I have to go through before the flight takes off (none of them are rational), so even when there is no time being lost or gained, I deplane feeling exhausted, depleted, edgy, shaky and in desperate need of a vacation.

    That said, I have no doubt that these tips will prove very helpful for all of your other well adjusted readers :-).

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Ruth, you are very cute! Someday, I may trade in my jet-setting ways for your devout Ashtanga or another yoga practice. :)
      As for your fears, I am SO sorry to hear it! It’s so tough to feel that way about something. My husband’s hands used to be wet noodles when we first flew. He was so nervous! For years, he didn’t blink an eye, lest the pilot needed some help!! I am not kidding you. It gets better with lots of flying but since you are not into that, then I’d just listen to yoga music if I were you until you arrive at destination. Big big hugs!

  • http://theknittedbrow.blogspot.com/ Kim

    These are good tips! When faced with jet lag, (usually upon arrival in Jakarta or Honolulu) I almost always take a shower, force myself to eat some protein and drink about a liter of water. Then I do, whenever possible, I do take an hour or so nap. I feel so much better afterward. After that — get outside, no matter what the weather! Exercise will almost always invigorate you, and seeing the new place will keep your mind occupied, and off how tired or wacked-out your body feels. I agree with you that taking that daytime nap is a good idea.

    Having food handy in the hotel room works for me. I almost always wake up hungry at 3am, in these situations, and hotel vending machines (if they exist) are NOT the way to eat when you’re trying to get your body to behave. Neither is a wee-hours trip to the Waffle House…nuts, fruits, some yogurt are what I like to go for.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi Kim, thank you for the tips. Protein: good tip! And naps: even better! You are right, fresh air and exercise do make us feel better. And we do that at destination more so than when we get home so that may explain some of my exhaustion at home. And it’s VERY smart to have food handy. We always spot a grocery store wherever we are and usually, hotels have a fridge.
      Thanks so much for sharing your tips!

  • Afsoon

    Hi Farnoosh jan
    Welcome back. This post was in perfect timing for me. I am heading back home for a short period of time and I was continually thinking about how to overcome my jet lag. I really needed to save time :)
    Thank you :)

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Thank you dear Afsoon! By home do you mean Iran? I wish you very safe and fun travels wherever you are headed!

  • http://www.workingmomjournal.com Blessing @ Working Mom Journal

    Welcome back lady! Wow, I love the pictures. It seems like you had such a nice time. And as for jet lags, there is nothing you can do to avoid them, other than the tips you have here to minimize the effect. I also think that getting enough rest before the trip is key. The fact that you did a lot of walking in HongKong could be why you feel a lot more tired now. Hoping you get some rest this week. Have a great one.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi and thank you so much! We took heaps of photos. I mainly posted them on my Instagram :)! As for avoiding jet lag, yes perhaps it is unavoidable! Love your tip though: Getting enough rest BEFORE the trip. I need to do that more. And would you believe I haven’t gone on a serious walk since Hong Kong? That was a week ago! Feeling tired still.

  • Leila Ahmadi

    Hi Farnoosh jan, hope you have enjoyed the holidays and your time in Australia and New Zealand. Your blog on the jet lag and tips to overcome it is very interesting and useful.
    As for the green juicing, I proudly announce that I am using your wonderful recipes, especially apple and carrot early in the morning after my meditation (not right after) and am absolutely loving it!…. so refreshing… ;)
    Thank you for your always excellent blogs and tips!
    Take care,
    Leila

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Dear Leila, it’s such a wonderful pleasure to hear from you whenever you pop up here on my blog. Thank you for reading! But I cannot be prouder and happier than you for your green juicing! Apple and carrot make a perfect juice! Yum! Now my mouth is watering :) You are very welcome and great job on your journey to super health!

  • http://www.LifeDesignStrategies.com Vicky White

    Farnoosh, I’ve travelled a lot – I’m a kiwi and have lived in many different countries. I have to say, getting on a plane to go anywhere is one of my biggest thrills. I’ve even flown non stop from the UK to NZ – about 30 something hours. I have only ever had jet lag twice – and both occasions were when I chose to drink spirits on the flight!
    I’m into natural things, but I have to admit, I always take half a sleeping pill on long flights so I make sure I get 4-5 hours sleep. If I don’t, I don’t sleep at all and feel terrible at the other end. So my tricks are to get at least a few hours sleep on the plane and to avoid alcohol. Seems to work for me – maybe some people are not so prone to jet lag. And yes, business class definitely helps. Glad you had a wonderful time in Aotearoa/NZ!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Dear Vicky, so so nice to meet you – the Kiwis left an unforgettable impression on me. And how nice that you have lived in many places but not so nice on that 30-hour flight, ouch! I just drink a little wine, no hard liquor ever, but I can certainly pass it up. I certainly don’t need it and I am not into wine at all, it just feels nice and relaxing for a few sips. Love the tip on sleep. I usually do just that, without the pill. :) Alas, it was such a nice time and so worth it! Thanks for your comment.

  • http://lissowerbutts.com Lissie

    You want to get more confused? The time difference between LA and Auckland is only 3 hours – less than NZ to Asia or Perth! OK its actually 19 hours – but that doesn’t count its the time of day that effects your body, not the day of the week.

    I also find in the old days I rarely got a night’s sleep before I left – I was usually packing – now I’m more organised and my partner likes to sleep first and be rested before a 12 hour flight. For me, I now get jet lag LOL

    The latest trick I tried on my last trip – which worked -was to NOT eat at all on the flight – (drink lots obviously, preferably water) – but to eat normal time meals at each end. I can’t find the research now – but the eating thing is critical for the brain getting the message about what time it is.

    Frankly though jetlag has its advantages – I’d never have seen the dawn ballroom dancing in Hanoi – except I had jetlag – 5:30am is not a good time for me normally!

    Business class – it would be nice – but if I had the money I’d probably spend it on more time at my destination or more tours while there

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Yes but they are a day apart (LA & Auckland :))….. I used to be a slow packer, now I’ve had to become a lot better, Lissie!
      And now that is an interesting tip and I’m afraid that’s not at all possible for me :) I LOVE eating. I can’t possibly pass up the food in business. Maybe on the American Airlines but not on Cathay Pacific! How strange though, why would that work? I like to think I eat well but I do have some bread and carbs on the flights and carbs are my nemesis!
      Everything comes with a bright side, indeed :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, and so nice to meet you in Welly, Lissie!

  • http://nochnoch.com Noch Noch

    completely agree! I only travel business class if the flight is more than 4 hours otherwise i don’t bother travelling. its not worth my energy
    and i always put on a face mask whenever i go to sleep
    it hits me every time, so i just work in some days to sleep afer travelling when i can
    Noch Noch

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      I LOVE that rule. Business or none :)! Good for you. It is So worth the energy you save from the comfort. Thank you dear Noch Noch for stopping by and I hope things are going extremely well for you.

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  • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

    Thank you so much yoga auckland. If that’s auckland, NZ, then i’ve been there and love it. I don’t actually accept guest posts but I am happy to discuss advertising options with you if you like. Please drop me an email from my contact form if interested and thanks again!

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  • Katie

    Hi there!

    thanks so much for the suggestions! I’m dealing with terrible jet lag right now. I was in East Africa for 2.5 weeks, came home for 2.5 and then was off to France for 9 days. I got a crappy cold after returning from Africa (darn plane air), so I don’t think I totally recovered before I left again and now I feel just depleted. I’ve been debating on resuming my work outs but I’ve been doing mma boot camp classes, which are amazing, but I’m afraid might be too intense and run me down further. I’m thinking I will rest for at least another day or two and incorporate some of your suggestions above and then try to get back into my regular routine before my trips. I’m so happy I found your blog!

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