5 Ayurvedic Tips to Lower Travel Anxiety
I noticed that my mom would get emotional and moody before our trips. She loved traveling the world, but leading up to the trip, her digestion would act up. Mom would often want to change the travel dates. On one hand, Mom wanted to explore the world; on the other, she felt queasy doing so. She would act edgy and not sleep well. I didn’t quite understand her behavior as a little girl. Now, as an Ayurvedic health counselor, I know she had travel anxiety.
Travel anxiety from an Ayurvedic perspective
Ayurveda tells us that anxiety results from an imbalance in Vata Dosha, especially the vayu principle, which is air. Let’s take a few steps back. Vata is made up of two elements: air and space. Vayu, the air element, is light, mobile, and dry. Vata’s excess of air leads to instability and agitation in the mind, which results in excessive thinking and worrying and makes our problems appear worse than they really are. Travel increases vata and so does anxiety, so can you imagine what travel anxiety can do to the mind?
What does Vata imbalance look like?
Basically, an imbalance of vata (mentally) is associated with an overabundance of lightness or movement—obsessive thinking, inability to focus, erratic thoughts, confusion, incessant worrying, and difficulty focusing. Doesn’t travel anxiety include many of the above elements? Ayurveda reminds us that vata imbalance is also associated with a hyper-excitable nervous system, both resulting from and the cause of insomnia and the overuse of vata stimulating foods and lifestyle practices.
Relationship between Vata and travel anxiety
Travel increases vata dosha. Basically, vata is responsible for all kinds of movement. To the extent possible, you want to bring your vata dosha to a state of balance during your travels, so you can lower anxiety. Diet and lifestyle can help with it. Ayurveda teaches us that like increases like and opposite qualities can help balance the doshas.
Vata dosha is built of the space and air elements—the most subtle of the five elements of Ayurveda. This is one reason why everyone has a vata imbalance even if vata isn’t your predominant dosha…and explains why vata dosha is the most easily disturbed. Vata’s qualities are dry, light, cool, rough, subtle, and mobile.
Ayurvedic tips to lower travel anxiety
Practice alternate nostril breathing
It can bring better balance to your nervous system and less stress response and activity over time. This pranayama lowers blood pressure. It also slows your heartbeat and lowers your blood pressure. If you want to learn how to do it, read my blog post here.
Use Nasya Oil
In Ayurveda, the nose is considered the direct route to the brain and the doorway to our consciousness. Once I board the flight or a train or a car, I add a few drops of nasya to both my nostrils. You notice the difference, especially when you are in an airplane that dehydration and body dryness are an instant result of altitude shock.
Massage your feet with oil
I recently told a client, who has high travel anxiety, to bring a 100ml bottle of sesame oil with her on the plane. I told them to massage the bottoms of their feet for a few minutes with the oil and wear their socks. Sesame oil has heating energetics, so it calms the nerves and nervous system and brings vata down. Once vata is balanced, anxiety is lowered. Oil massage also helps with blood circulation.
Do deep breathing
Intentionally slowing your breath and breathing deeply lets your body know that everything is okay, as it activates the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS). Once PSNS is activated, it slows our heart and breathing rates, lowers blood pressure, and promotes digestion. Our body enters a state of relaxation. When you are relaxed, anxiety lowers.
Eat only warm and cooked foods
People tend to munch out of boredom while traveling. Travel anxiety makes some people restless, and they might use food as a coping tool. They drink alcohol to calm their nerves. All the dry or cold foods as well as crunchy foods like chips, popcorn, crackers…they increase vata. Alcohol is drying so will imbalance vata. You don’t have to eat food served in flight, if you aren’t hungry. Eat a warm, cooked, and light meal, which means no raw salads, before you board the plane. Even in the plane, be mindful of what you feed yourself. It will impact both your digestion and ability to sleep. Lack of sleep enhances anxiety.
Want to learn other Ayurvedic ways for lowering travel anxiety and to bring your vata back to balance, especially during your travels? Subscribe to my mailing list today!
Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional. If you are looking for advice from a trained Ayurvedic coach, contact me here.