The Holistic Flight Survival Guide

Buckle in and get zen with tips for safe passage.

May 12, 2015
Inside the simulated cabin of a DC10 plane
PHOTOGRAPH BY DEAN CONGER/CORBIS

Airplanes are not havens for self-care, to say the least. The combination of eating poorly, sitting in a cramped seat for hours, weathering schedule disruptions and managing sundry anxieties—including turbulence, claustrophobia, and fear of catching a bug floating around—can challenge your equilibrium. Fortunately, the same wellness practices that you use on the ground will help you stay balanced physically, mentally, and emotionally as you fly to your destination. By following an easy-to-implement regimen, you’ll touch down rested and relaxed.

Prep Smart
Low cabin humidity makes it harder to fight off infections. Boost your immunity by getting a good night’s sleep, eating unprocessed foods, and taking fortifying botanical formulas. Naturopathic doctor Kate Morrison doubles supplements like Echinacea Premium by MediHerb, which can help increase white blood cell production, in the days before traveling.

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Pack To Relax
Put comfort in your carry-on: a soft scarf, soothing music, engaging books. If you’re feeling anxious, try the herbal supplement CalmAid, which contains a lavender extract that matched Xanax as a relaxation booster in head-to-head studies.

Snack Right
Sensitivity to sweet and salty foods plummets by up to 30 percent in a plane’s dry air and low pressure, so there’s a risk of overindulging. Sugar can lower immunity. Salt causes water retention, adding to the bloat from air pressure changes. Dietitian-nutritionist Caroline Kaufman suggests snacks rich in fiber, protein, and healthy fats, like nut butter on whole-grain bread. The combo is filling and prevents a sugar crash.

Peace Out
Look for a meditation or designated quiet room in the terminal for contemplative moments before you board. If the airport doesn’t have such a space, Ayurvedic doctor Nancy Lonsdorf goes to the waiting area of an inactive gate to meditate. “I try to be easy and let go,” she says.

MORE: Airport Yoga Studios

Fight Germs
“Especially during flu season, half the people on any plane are either just getting over something or just about to get something,” says Frank Butler, a practitioner of Chinese medicine. And research has shown that colds are up to 100 times more likely to be transmitted on a plane than on the ground. Wipe down armrests with CleanWell Botanical Disinfecting Wipes or another natural brand. Aim the air vent away from your face, so it’s not blowing bacteria at you. Wash your hands frequently.

Stay Calm
If turbulence or claustrophobia gets to you, says Deepak Chopra, M.D., visualize an ecstatically happy moment: a baby’s birth, a career milestone. “Overwhelm the fear by bringing on a positive memory,” he says. Before you travel, make a short list of uplifting events. Or activate a stress-relieving hormone cascade with the Daoist meditation, the Secret Smile: Close your eyes and imagine the energy you feel when you’re grinning broadly. Breathe deeply and feel the energy spread down your body.

Keep It Moving
Avoid blood clots and swollen ankles by pointing and flexing your feet periodically and getting up for a stroll every 30 minutes to an hour. While you’re up, stand in place and bend your knees, then rise onto your toes; repeat this four to eight times. When sitting, do basic movements like neck rolls and gentle twists, to work out kinks.

MORE: What Those In-Flight Dings Really Mean + Other Pilot Secrets

Get Shut-Eye
Soft eyeshades and noise-cancelling headphones help. Hasten the snooze-fest with the botanical blend End Fatigue Revitalizing Sleep Formula.

After You Land
Reset your body clock by eating and sleeping according to local time, which might mean skipping a meal or delaying it. The homeopathic remedies arnica and cocculus, taken in 30c doses just before takeoff, every three hours in the sky, then again after landing, can help you recover after your circadian rhythm is thrown off.