You love to travel. You like finding a place to go, an airline to travel and a bar you want to hit up. But what you don’t like is coming home after a week away and knowing — or perhaps dreading — that there is no time to recover or unwind after a long trip.
The beauty of traveling is the appeal of relaxation and not having to do everything for yourself. Often, though, we return home not as relaxed as we hoped to be. Whether from a business trip or a family vacation, you step off the plane or out of the car feeling drained. The key to truly having an enjoyable time is knowing how to unwind after a long trip.
Have you ever gotten off an airplane or climbed out of your car and felt gross? It’s not that it’s dirty — but the air that’s trapped inside makes you feel like you’re covered in a layer of something. The first step in learning how to unwind after a long trip is to make yourself feel clean.
A hot shower or warm bath is the perfect “welcome home” gift. There are multiple benefits to enjoying a hot shower, which is a form of heat treatment. Instantly you’ll feel your muscles relax and the tension roll out of your joints. It’s a natural detox, as the hot water will penetrate your pores and release any build-up. You can also feel your body calm itself simply by standing under the water for 10 minutes. No need for soap to feel clean here!
After your shower put on a fresh set of clothes and make sure they’re comfortable. Coming home from a long trip is the perfect excuse to bring out your old ratty sweatpants and college tee. If you want to know how to unwind, you have to allow your body to feel free without restriction.
The next step in learning how to unwind after a long trip is to do what you wanted to do your entire trip — relax. Open that bottle of red wine in your fridge, pour a hefty glass and sit yourself down — and do it all without feeling guilty. For years, studies have shown that drinking red wine will relax you. If you’re not a wine drinker, you can opt for beer instead because both alcohols have the same somewhat-sedative effect.
If you have pets, invite them in for a cuddle and nap. A scientific study has shown that when interacting and showing affection towards pets — especially dogs – the levels of the hormone oxytocin increase. Oxytocin is responsible for social bonding, easing stress, relaxation and trust.
Once you’re settled in on your sofa or chair of choice, find something to watch. Whether it’s a TV show, documentary or film, your goal is to be distracted. A major step in learning how to unwind after a long trip is to not think ahead or start feeding your brain internal worries. Find some mindless entertainment and enjoy it.
If you’re looking to unwind after a long trip but still want to be active about it, then holistic remedies and approaches may work better for you. Many people choose to participate in yoga to keep their body moving but their mind soothed. Mindfulness is another practice close in ideology — instead of reflecting back on your long trip or panicking about the presentation you have to give in two days, you focus on what is happening in the moment. It is an active way of self-centering and feeling the emotions that flow through you.
Aromatherapy is another method for relaxing the mind which, although an ancient ritual, has grown in popularity in recent years. Essential oils are made from plant extracts and, when inhaled or applied directly to the body, send signals to the brain, muscles and joints to ease pain, relieve stress and increase relaxation. While there are various oils used for different purposes, the most common for unwinding include lavender, chamomile and rose.
Additionally, if you are not a wine or beer drinker and are looking for another beverage, herbal teas can do the trick. Herbal teas are non-caffeinated, offering you the chance to unwind without getting a burst of energy. Served hot or iced, these herbs can be the most beneficial for increasing relaxation: lemon balm, linden, passionflower and, of course, chamomile.
If you’re looking to learn how to unwind after a long trip, you can definitely start here with this list by getting clean, relaxing and trying holistic practices. But to better your chance of relaxing before going back to work, plan ahead! Schedule yourself a “buffer” day in between your return day and your first day back at work or school. Not only will you still get to relax your body for the evening, but you will have a whole day to truly unwind with your mind.