Jet lag used to be my nemesis, but that was before I defeated it!
It wasn’t easy. It took almost four years. But now, on year five, when I’ve flown almost 40 hours way too many flights to count, I no longer get these three-day hangovers. I now get only 3 hour jet lag hangovers, which is more like a real hangover without the headache. A little disoriented for a few hours is not bad after a 40 hour flight.
It’s unavoidable to 100% prevent jet lag because of SCIENCE and all that, but I’ve learned how to manage and minimize it’s effects on my body and dried-out skin to just one day of being a little uncomfortable. Spoiler: It’s mostly all in your mind!
The Secrets to Starting Your Day like You Weren’t Just on a Plane for 9 Hours
1. If I have multiple layovers, I try not to sleep on ALL the flights. I tire myself out on the shorter legs, so that on the longest leg I will sleep easier. On the shorter flights, I watch movies on my tablet, listen to my Journey Fave’s Playlist, read, or lately write for Werkenntwen. Right now I’m reading Shantaram, the typical India backpacking book I should have read two years ago.
2. Ask for your preferred seat when you check-in or do it yourself online. It will make all the difference if you’re in a seat you fancy, which is for me, the window seat. It doesn’t cost extra and you can usually get what you want if you check-in early enough.
ok we can’t always get seats like these! photo 1, photo 2 credit
3. Actually try to sleep on your flight! Sounds easy but this is the hardest part of all. If you can catch a few hours of sleep instead of watching the rom-coms on the tiny screen in front of you, you’ll look and feel massively fresher when you land, and you’ll be able to stay up and push through the jet lag. FYI: It’s going to feel worse when you are traveling East. Bring: the best compressible travel pillow, earplugs, socks (they crank that A/C!), and satin eye mask.
4. Ben likes to drink a few (or more) beers before a flight to help him sleep, while I stick to water… don’t forget I am still a nurse! I will take an antihistamine before bed because just one pill sort of knocks me right out. Putting my alter ego Werkenntwen aside, Rachel the Nurse taking over: stay hydrated!
If not only for your body, for your tortured airplane cabin pressure skin! Alcohol is not going to hydrate you. If you choose to drink it, drink equal amounts room-temperature water too. The reason you should drink room temperature water varies within cultures, but I am starting to believe the Indian’s rule about it slowing the metabolism, and making your body deal with heat worse.
5. The last one led me right to this: push through the jet lag the day you land, and do not sleep! I repeat: DO NOT SLEEP. Try to get decent amounts of sleep the next two nights until you’re back on schedule.
6. Even if you aren’t first class, you can ask for a warm towel. I don’t know if the stewardesses would be annoyed or not, but I see people do it often. I finally flew business class and those warm towels make ALL the difference before landing.
I look a mess.
7. If you don’t want to ask for a warm towel, use wet face wipes like these Burt’s Bees ones. I carry them with me because in India even some airports don’t have working sinks or toilet paper. I always clean away the layer of dirt that a long haul flight is bound to put on your face. The key to looking fresh is in your skin, which has just had ALL the moisture stolen from it. Sometimes I use Nivea or Garnier as well.
8. Brush the tangles out of your hair. If you’re anything like me, it’s become matted from changing positions so much. I wish I could throw it into a messy bun, but after combing my curls I usually have too frizzy of hair to make a bun look cute, so I opt for a side braid. While bedhead can be a fun and sexy look, I absolutely hate not being to run my fingers through my hair. When I go out at night I let it be messy- the messier the better, but the next day I comb through it all after a deep conditioning. For me, after a flight when I’m trying to feel fresh, it only makes sense to have smooth manageable hair. You can amp it up by getting a silk pillowcase to keep your tresses untangled.
9. Take them up on the morning coffee and tea offer. Instead of sleeping until the very last minute, I drink my coffee and “get ready” so to speak while the rest of the plane is still a little dazed. I tend to get a second cup of coffee as well!
10. Recharge your body with a little snack. I usually pass on the airline breakfast offers, especially in India. It’s too greasy to start my day with. You want to keep your mood up with snacks that help: dark chocolate, nuts, and berries.. which you can find in granola bars!
11. Once I’m situated and everyone else is waking up, I put in my headphones and play my “Massage Playlist” I use for clients, and close my eyes for a 20-minute meditation-sesh until the flight attendant tell me to turn my iPod off.
Researchers say that 20 minutes of mediation is equal to seven hours of sleep. If you haven’t ever meditated, that’s not a problem! To start they teach us to just focus on the air going in and out of your nostrils. It’s more calming than it sounds.
12. Stand up and stretch. While you’re up, try to shake some of the wrinkles out of your clothing. It’s best to wear dark clothes that will hide wrinkles. Put on all that favorite jewelry that you took off to get through security and sleep comfortably. I love wearing my Om necklace and moonstone rings!
photo credit yoga
13. You have to look and feel fresh! I don’t like to wear much make up with I’m traveling but there are some products that I LOVE after a flight to go along with my moisturizing routine before landing. For me, that is THE upmost important step in all of your jet lag woes.
14. Brush your teeth! I bring gum/mints/whatever I can find to freshen up until I can get into a restroom to really brush.
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