Stress-Free in 20 Minutes: Pre-Travel Routine. Zen2Go.

Traveling this week or the next? We all dread the unavoidable stress of travel. Most of us handle it quite well, but even Deepak Chopra must have a breaking point: one too many elbow shoves, a rude 'bah humbug' employee, an extra long line at airport security - weaving its way around the corner and out the door like a snake, train delays, unfriendly car traffic, beeps, honks, furrowed brows, the phrase "We're lost", crowds, mobs, delayed signs blinking and twinkling like Christmas tree lights, boarding row 1 when you're row 65, missing your flight (or 'missing' your flight by-the-counter-clerks-definition, when the plane hasn't taken off yet), and anything that involves the phrase severe weather delay.

Am I There Yet? You can't wait for your destination, but it would be nice to arrive in one, solid, less-than-frazzled piece, right? Well give me 20 minutes of your travel day, and I'll give you a to-go baggie of 'zen'. Start off on a zen foot, and you just might retain that state of mind until you arrive at your destination. Get stress-free in 20 minutes....

"All Aboard! We will now be boarding passengers by order of 'zen'. All calm, collected, stress-free passengers may now board. We appreciate your zen." -In My Dreams Air.

Work a Miracle. No miracles here. Just a hardcore session of 'you time'. It's easy to forget how easy de-stressing yourself can be. It only takes a few minutes of time (devoted 100% to yourself) to attain a stress-free mood. The wellness techniques I use are simple: breathing, aromatherapy, stretching, hot/cold water therapy and a good old fashioned $1.99 epsom salt bubble bath. No, I cant assure you that your travel plans will be hassle-free. But set aside these activities and you'll be feeling much zenner en route to your holiday.

Stress-Free in 20 Minutes: Pre-Travel Routine and Guide.

Before you begin, make sure that your bags are packed, your luggage is by the door, your tickets are in your carry-on bag and all your loose ends are tied up. Then say, "OK honey, I'm giving myself 20 minutes to de-stress." Don't take no for an answer, and do this routine.

Location: Since this guide involves a bath/shower etc. You will be using the bathroom as your zen sanctuary. Close the door. Do not disturb sign, optional.

Set-Up: Tools should be out and ready to go.

Tools: face mask, skin brush, aromatherapy oils, epsom salts, bubble bath, washcloth, bathrobe, peppermint and/or eucalyptus body oils or cream/lotion, a packed to-go zen bag (see below). For oils/lotions, bubble bath/mask - brands/stores I love: Aveda, Origins, Whole Foods Whole Body section.

Preparation: Slather a nice cooling mask on your face, something with an aloe vera or calendula base is perfect. If you stick the mask container in the fridge the night before, it will be ice cold and oh-so-soothing. I also love Dr. Weil's Origins brand Plantidote mask. It's a tissue-off mask, perfect for this quick de-stressing routine. You will wash the mask off at the end of the 20 minutes. Next, start running a hot bath. Fill it with 1 1/2 cups of epsom salts and a few squeezes of your fave bubble bath. Add a few peppermint, rose, citrus and/or eucalyptus essential oil drops if you'd like.

1. Minutes 0-4: Breathing.
Yes 4 minutes of deep, focused breathing are crucial to your zen euphoria. Why is breathing important? Find out in breathing 101 here. Here's the drill:

Close your eyes.
Breath in deeply through your mouth, for 5 counts.
Breath out slowly through your mouth for 5 counts.

Repeat once.

Breath in through your nose for 5 counts.
Breath out through your mouth for 5 counts.

Repeat twice.

Breath in through nose for 7 counts.
(Hold for ten seconds.)
Breath out through mouth for 10 counts.

Repeat once.

Do this for 4 minutes.

2. Minutes 5-8: Skin Brushing and Stretching
Skin brushing is a great way to prep for a long trip where you probably wont have the time to get a good skin brush in. Grab your skin brush. See the how-to, skin detox 101 guide here. And start brushing. But as you brush, squeeze in a few light stretches, touch your toes, stretch your arms high and low, legs, light standard stretches will get that blood flowing and loosen your muscles. Skin brush (and stretch) for 4 minutes.

3. Minutes 9-13: Quick Soak
This will probably be the quickest bubble bath you've ever had, but it's just enough time to soak in those zen-inducing epsom salts and get your blood flowing to your toes and fingers. Ah, feels so good you barely want to get out right? How about a nice nap right about now, no travel. Nap. Zzzzzzz. Sorry guys, we only have 20 minutes and a plain/train/automobile to catch. Out of the tub. But don't worry, the next step in this guide will wake you up!

4. Minutes 14-16: Hot/Cold Shower
First, read more about hot/cold water therapy here. Out of the hot tub, you're tired and incredibly zen, but you're traveling so you need some energy! You now must turn on a nice cold shower. Yup. Icy cold. As cold as you can stand it. Do this:

Cold Shower: 30 seconds
Warm shower: 1 minute
Cold Shower: 45 seconds (get that face cold too!)
Warm Shower: 15 seconds
Everyone out of the pool!

5. 17-20: Dry off and oil up.
Pat yourself dry with a clean washcloth. Now slather yourself in a zen-smelling body oil or shea butter (rich) body cream. Perhaps a peppermint essential oil containing product. Products to buy? The essential oil section of Whole Foods will have a few nice zen-themed body oils. Aveda and Origins are also great mainstream stores. Rub the body oil/cream in very well, so that you don't get your travel clothes 'wet'. The oils will keep you feeling moisturized all day long (and we know how dehydrating travel can be.) Lastly, rub some oil of the side temples of your head for a few seconds, as you close your eyes and do a few more deep breaths. Put on your clothes, brush those teeth and open the door feeling zen, calm and ready to face the mobs of travelers who are probably a lot less zen than you. They will be so jealous of your zen 'happy cat' smile as you wait in a 90 minute airport security line (smelling like a field of peppermint and citrus nonetheless).

And you're off! Be sure to bring a nice zen-to-go pack for your travel adventures. Sorry if your airline won't allow this to be carried on, but here is what I advise, modify as needed:
*1-2 tetrapaks of chilled coconut water poured into a resealable container for easy sipping on the go.
*Lip Balm, natural shea butter based
*Eye mask, peppermint essenced preferably (Origins has a great peppermint eye mask).
*Small container of essential oil infused cream/lotion/body oil, to massage into your temple and breath in deeply. Just a little dab will do. As stated above, I love Origins Peace of Mind. I also love Aveda's Blue Oil Stick: Blue Oil Balancing Concentrate $13.40 for a travel size.
*Zen Sounds. iPod, earphones, a few 'nice sounds' loaded on your playlist. Well-charged up for a long flight. Noise cancelling headphones would be lovely as well. You'll thank me when the child sitting behind you spends the entire 4 hour flight playing with his new very loud firetruck Christmas present. (True story.)
*A small baggie of natural peppermint gum and face towelettes. Herban Essentials brand, available online or at Whole Foods, makes amazing towelettes. I love the 'Yoga' blend or also the variety pack with lemon, peppermint and lavender varieties in one bag.
*A treat. Some raw cashews, dark chocolate, a few homemade holiday cookies or a muffin. Bring a homemade treat on the road (and even more than you think you'll want to eat), you'll thank me in that third layover hour. Also, fresh fruit (for those who can travel with it), is always a total energizer and hydrator. I love an apple or bag of grapes on the road.

Good luck, safe traveling and happy happy holidays.

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