5 Tips for Taming Travel Tension Over the Holidays

5 Tips for Taming Travel Tension Over the Holidays

Claremont Colonic Newsletter
For many people, travel is a necessary part of celebrating the holidays with loved ones. This means enduring all the stressful hiccups that can come with traveling and spending time away from the comforts of your own home.
Every year, my family kicks off the season by watching the classic comedy “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” starring Steve Martin and the late John Candy. In it, the two men are strangers who end up stuck together, dealing with a comically inordinate number of travel-related issues while trying to get home for Thanksgiving.

There’s a good chance your holiday travel won’t get as complicated as Martin’s and Candy’s, but you may face delays, diversions and many hours of sitting that can take a toll on you mentally and physically. So, whether you’re driving to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving or flying to see family in another country, try the five tips below to reduce stress and tension so you can enjoy the holidays.

Take control of your posture and breathing

When you sit for long periods while traveling, your posture often suffers. Given the intimate relationship of your breathing pattern and your posture, slumping while seated leads to shallow, rapid breathing, which incites your body’s stress response. It’s a vicious cycle that increases physical and mental tension.

That’s why it’s important to take control of your breathing at least once an hour while traveling to help restore your posture and cultivate a sense of calm. Taking just five or six long, deep breaths while focusing on getting your low ribs to move as demonstrated in this video can make a big difference!

Just 90 seconds of deep breathing elicits a relaxation response that decreases your heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormone production, according to research.

Drink enough nonalcoholic fluids

Those muscle cramps and achy joints you experience on the road may have a lot to do with your fluid intake. Considering that our bodies are mostly water, hydration is important for proper joint lubrication and circulation. But your hydration level doesn’t just affect you physically. When you’re dehydrated, it increases your body’s cortisol (primary stress hormone) levels, which can lead to feelings of anxiety, exhaustion and overall irritability.

Your access to drinking water may be limited while traveling, so it’s important to plan ahead. You can’t bring bottled water through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints, and no one likes to pay the exorbitant prices for bottles of water at the airport. Thankfully, most airports have filtered water stations to refill bottles for free. So pack a reusable water bottle and, if you’re driving, don’t forget to bring a cooler with water.

Even when you aren’t traveling, the holidays make it easy to become dehydrated. With all the festivities, we often forget to drink as much water as normal, especially when cocktails are flowing. But alcoholic beverages are no substitute for water because they’re dehydrating.

Alcohol suppresses natural production of the antidiuretic hormone vasopressin, which keeps us from urinating too much. Without it, we find ourselves in the bathroom more often. Counter the dehydrating impact of alcohol by drinking one glass of water for every cocktail.

Stand and walk every opportunity you can

Studies abound regarding the health dangers of prolonged sitting, yet few people seem to make an effort to avoid it while traveling. Looking around the airport, you’ll find most everyone sitting at the gate waiting to get on their plane, where they will inevitably remain seated for at least a couple of hours or more.

Break up bouts of sitting by taking advantage of opportunities to stand and walk around whenever possible. At the airport, take a walk around your terminal. Some airports even have yoga rooms with public access. When traveling by car, find a park or even a mall on your route where you can get out and take a 10-minute walk.

Stretch out the tension

Lots of sitting during travel also means compressed side waist muscles, overused hip flexors and tight low-back muscles. If you want to be more comfortable and avoid pain when traveling, you need to stretch out those muscles whenever possible.

My go-to travel stretch is the warrior hip flexor release

Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand to the right of a wall, chair or other stable surface. Place your left hand on it for support.
  • Step your right foot back into a short lunge position, dropping your back heel and pointing your toes out slightly, as shown.
  • Bend your front knee to align above your ankle, while your back leg remains straight.
  • Inhale as you lift your right arm up and over your head.
  • Exhale as you side bend to the left, feeling your left lower ribs rotate inward.
  • Avoid arching your lower back.
  • Hold for three long, deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Take recovery seriously

You might be so relieved to get to your destination that you think plopping down in a comfy chair is all you need. But it’s even more beneficial to get your legs up above your heart, which promotes venous blood flow and helps reduce lower-body swelling.

A great way to accomplish this is with the popular restorative yoga pose known as “legs up the wall.” You can do this on the floor with your straight legs up the wall or with your knees bent and calves resting on a chair seat. If you don’t want to lie on the floor, you can lay backward on your bed and put your legs up the headboard. Feel free to place a pillow or folded blanket under your head.

Once in the position, stay there a few minutes, taking some long, deep relaxing breaths.

In addition to changing your relationship with gravity to relieve tension, it’s important to get enough sleep. This is especially true if you have traveled to a different time zone. Work in naps, if necessary, to make up for any sleep deficits that could negatively affect your health and wellness.

Despite all the joys the holidays bring, it’s important not to overlook the ways seasonal trips can inadvertently drag you down. Using the five tips above will help keep travel tension at bay and your holiday spirits high.

Contributor: Dana Santas, CNN Health

Series: Know Your Body – The Digestive System

Series: Know Your Body - The Digestive System

Claremont Colonic Newsletter
The Digestive System
The food you eat takes an incredible journey through your body, from top (your mouth) to bottom (your anus). Along the way the beneficial parts of your food are absorbed, giving you energy and nutrients. Here’s a step-by-step account of the digestive system’s workings.
What is the digestive system?

Your digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and your liver, pancreas and gallbladder. The GI tract is a series of hollow organs that are connected to each other from your mouth to your anus. The organs that make up your GI tract, in the order that they are connected, include your mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and anus.

What does the digestive system do?

Your digestive system is uniquely constructed to do its job of turning your food into the nutrients and energy you need to survive. And when it’s done with that, it handily packages your solid waste, or stool, for disposal when you have a bowel movement.

Why is digestion important?

Digestion is important because your body needs nutrients from the food you eat and the liquids you drink in order to stay healthy and function properly. Nutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. Your digestive system breaks down and absorbs nutrients from the food and liquids you consume to use for important things like energy, growth and repairing cells.


What organs make up the digestive system?

The main organs that make up the digestive system (in order of their function) are the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum and anus. Helping them along the way are the pancreas, gall bladder and liver.

Here’s how these organs work together in your digestive system.


The mouth is the beginning of the digestive tract. In fact, digestion starts before you even take a bite. Your salivary glands get active as you see and smell that pasta dish or warm bread. After you start eating, you chew your food into pieces that are more easily digested. Your saliva mixes with the food to begin to break it down into a form your body can absorb and use. When you swallow, your tongue passes the food into your throat and into your esophagus.


Located in your throat near your trachea (windpipe), the esophagus receives food from your mouth when you swallow. The epiglottis is a small flap that folds over your windpipe as you swallow to prevent you from choking (when food goes into your windpipe). A series of muscular contractions within the esophagus called peristalsis delivers food to your stomach.

But first a ring-like muscle at the bottom of your esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter has to relax to let the food in. The sphincter then contracts and prevents the contents of the stomach from flowing back into the esophagus. (When it doesn’t and these contents flow back into the esophagus, you may experience acid reflux or heartburn.)


The stomach is a hollow organ, or “container,” that holds food while it is being mixed with stomach enzymes. These enzymes continue the process of breaking down food into a usable form. Cells in the lining of your stomach secrete a strong acid and powerful enzymes that are responsible for the breakdown process. When the contents of the stomach are processed enough, they’re released into the small intestine.

Small intestine

Made up of three segments — the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum — the small intestine is a 22-foot long muscular tube that breaks down food using enzymes released by the pancreas and bile from the liver. Peristalsis also works in this organ, moving food through and mixing it with digestive juices from the pancreas and liver.

The duodenum is the first segment of the small intestine. It’s largely responsible for the continuous breaking-down process. The jejunum and ileum lower in the intestine are mainly responsible for the absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream.

Contents of the small intestine start out semi-solid and end in a liquid form after passing through the organ. Water, bile, enzymes and mucus contribute to the change in consistency. Once the nutrients have been absorbed and the leftover-food residue liquid has passed through the small intestine, it then moves on to the large intestine (colon).


The pancreas secretes digestive enzymes into the duodenum that break down protein, fats and carbohydrates. The pancreas also makes insulin, passing it directly into the bloodstream. Insulin is the chief hormone in your body for metabolizing sugar.


The liver has many functions, but its main job within the digestive system is to process the nutrients absorbed from the small intestine. Bile from the liver secreted into the small intestine also plays an important role in digesting fat and some vitamins.

The liver is your body’s chemical “factory.” It takes the raw materials absorbed by the intestine and makes all the various chemicals your body needs to function.

The liver also detoxifies potentially harmful chemicals. It breaks down and secretes many drugs that can be toxic to your body.


The gallbladder stores and concentrates bile from the liver, and then releases it into the duodenum in the small intestine to help absorb and digest fats.


The colon is responsible for processing waste so that emptying your bowels is easy and convenient. It’s a 6-foot long muscular tube that connects the small intestine to the rectum.

The colon is made up of the cecum, the ascending (right) colon, the transverse (across) colon, the descending (left) colon, and the sigmoid colon, which connects to the rectum.

Stool, or waste left over from the digestive process, is passed through the colon by means of peristalsis, first in a liquid state and ultimately in a solid form. As stool passes through the colon, water is removed. Stool is stored in the sigmoid (S-shaped) colon until a “mass movement” empties it into the rectum once or twice a day.

It normally takes about 36 hours for stool to get through the colon. The stool itself is mostly food debris and bacteria. These “good” bacteria perform several useful functions, such as synthesizing various vitamins, processing waste products and food particles and protecting against harmful bacteria. When the descending colon becomes full of stool, or feces, it empties its contents into the rectum to begin the process of elimination (a bowel movement).


The rectum is a straight, 8-inch chamber that connects the colon to the anus. The rectum’s job is to receive stool from the colon, let you know that there is stool to be evacuated (pooped out) and to hold the stool until evacuation happens. When anything (gas or stool) comes into the rectum, sensors send a message to the brain. The brain then decides if the rectal contents can be released or not.

If they can, the sphincters relax and the rectum contracts, disposing its contents. If the contents cannot be disposed, the sphincter contracts and the rectum accommodates so that the sensation temporarily goes away.


The anus is the last part of the digestive tract. It is a 2-inch long canal consisting of the pelvic floor muscles and the two anal sphincters (internal and external). The lining of the upper anus is able to detect rectal contents. It lets you know whether the contents are liquid, gas or solid.

The anus is surrounded by sphincter muscles that are important in allowing control of stool. The pelvic floor muscle creates an angle between the rectum and the anus that stops stool from coming out when it’s not supposed to. The internal sphincter is always tight, except when stool enters the rectum. This keeps us continent (prevents us from pooping involuntarily) when we are asleep or otherwise unaware of the presence of stool.

When we get an urge to go to the bathroom, we rely on our external sphincter to hold the stool until reaching a toilet, where it then relaxes to release the contents.

Conditions and Disorders

What are some common conditions that affect the digestive system?

There are temporary conditions and long-term, or chronic, diseases and disorders that affect the digestive system. It’s common to have conditions such as constipation, diarrhea or heartburn from time to time. If you are experiencing digestive issues like these frequently, be sure to contact your healthcare professional. It could be a sign of a more serious disorder that needs medical attention and treatment.

Short-term or temporary conditions that affect the digestive system include:

Constipation: Constipation generally happens when you go poop (have a bowel movement) less frequently than you normally do. When you’re constipated, your poop is often dry and hard and it’s difficult and painful for your poop to pass.

Diarrhea: Diarrhea is when you have loose or watery poop. Diarrhea can be caused by many things, including bacteria, but sometimes the cause is unknown.

Heartburn: Although it has “heart” in its name, heartburn is actually a digestive issue. Heartburn is an uncomfortable burning feeling in your chest that can move up your neck and throat. It happens when acidic digestive juices from your stomach go back up your esophagus.

Hemorrhoids: Hemorrhoids are swollen, enlarged veins that form inside and outside of your anus and rectum. They can be painful, uncomfortable and cause rectal bleeding.

Stomach flu (gastroenteritis): The stomach flu is an infection of the stomach and upper part of the small intestine usually caused by a virus. It usually lasts less than a week. Millions of people get the stomach flu every year.

Ulcers: An ulcer is a sore that develops on the lining of the esophagus, stomach or small intestine. The most common causes of ulcers are infection with a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and long-term use of anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.

Gallstones: Gallstones are small pieces of solid material formed from digestive fluid that form in your gallbladder, a small organ under your liver.

Common digestive system diseases (gastrointestinal diseases) and disorders include:

GERD (chronic acid reflux): GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or chronic acid reflux) is a condition in which acid-containing contents in your stomach frequently leak back up into your esophagus.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): IBS is a condition in which your colon muscle contracts more or less often than normal. People with IBS experience excessive gas, abdominal pain and cramps.

Lactose intolerance: People with lactose intolerance are unable to digest lactose, the sugar primarily found in milk and dairy products.

Diverticulosis and diverticulitis: Diverticulosis and diverticulitis are two conditions that occur in your large intestine (also called your colon). Both share the common feature of diverticula, which are pockets or bulges that form in the wall of your colon.

Cancer: Cancers that affect tissues and organs in the digestive system are called gastrointestinal (GI) cancers. There are multiple kinds of GI cancers. The most common digestive system cancers include esophageal cancer, gastric (stomach) cancer, colon and rectal (colorectal) cancer, pancreatic cancer and liver cancer.

Crohn’s disease: Crohn’s disease is a lifelong form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The condition irritates the digestive tract.

Celiac disease: Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can damage your small intestine. The damage happens when a person with celiac disease consumes gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.


How can I keep my digestive system healthy?

If you have a medical condition, always ask your healthcare provider what you should do and eat to stay healthy and manage your condition. In general, the following are ways to keep your digestive system healthy:

Drink water often: Water helps the food you eat flow more easily through your digestive system. Low amounts of water in your body (dehydration) is a common cause of constipation.

Include fiber in your diet: Fiber is beneficial to digestion and helps your body have regular bowel movements. Be sure to incorporate both soluble and insoluble fiber into your diet.

Eat a balanced diet: Be sure to eat several servings of fruit and vegetables every day. Choose whole grains over processed grains and try to avoid processed foods in general. Choose poultry and fish more often than red meat and limit all deli (processed) meats. Limit the amount of sugar you consume.

Eat foods with probiotics or take probiotic supplements: Probiotics are good bacteria that help fight off the bad bacteria in your gut. They also make healthy substances that nourish your gut. It can be especially helpful to consume probiotics after you have taken an antibiotic because antibiotics often kill both bad and good bacteria in your gut.

Eat mindfully and chew your food: Eating slowly gives your body time to digest your food properly. It also allows your body to send you cues that it is full. It is important to chew your food thoroughly because it helps to ensure your body has enough saliva (spit) for digestion. Chewing your food fully also makes it easier for your digestive system to absorb the nutrients in the food.

Exercise: Physical activity and gravity help move food through your digestive system. Taking a walk, for example, after you eat a meal can help your body digest the food more easily.

Avoid alcohol and smoking: Alcohol can increase the amount of acid in your stomach and can cause heartburn, acid reflux and stomach ulcers. Smoking almost doubles your risk of having acid reflux. Research has shown that people who have digestive issues that quit smoking have improved symptoms.

Manage your stress: Stress is associated with digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhea and IBS.

When should I contact my healthcare provider about digestive system issues?

Contact your healthcare provider if you are experiencing frequent symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain or cramps, excessive gas (farting), or heartburn. While most people experience these conditions every once in a while, if you experience them often, it could be a sign of a more serious digestive system issue.

Contributor: Clevelandclinic.org

Is Daylight Saving Time Healthy for You? No, Experts Say, Pointing to Lost Sleep.

Is Daylight Saving Time Healthy for You? No, Experts Say, Pointing to Lost Sleep.

Claremont Colonic Newsletter
For years, medical experts have stressed how daylight savings can negatively impact sleep.

Daylight saving, which begins in the spring and ends mid-fall, can make it harder to both wake up and fall asleep – as the “wall clock” moves farther away from the “sun clock.”

If passed into law, the Sunshine Protection Act would make daylight saving time permanent in all but two states. But health experts advocate for adopting permanent standard time year round.
Medical experts are continuing to stress daylight saving time’s health consequences – notably how time changes can throw off your sleep cycle.

“It’s the same story every year,” Dr. Sabra Abbott, a Northwestern Medicine physician and associate professor of neurology in the school’s department of sleep medicine, told USA TODAY.

“We’re dealing with competing clocks,” Abbott said, pointing to how our bodies usually follow the sun and not the time on our phones. How long sunlight lasts each day depends on the season and where you are geographically – but daylight saving time moves us farther away from the “sun clock,” experts say.

“During standard time, noon tends to be the point at which the sun is highest in the sky. But when we shift to daylight saving time, what happens is that relationship between the wall clock and the sun clock are clearly skewed,” Abbott said.

That can result in less sleep.

Losing sleep?

Most people have a harder time waking up during daylight saving time – because the sky stays darker longer in the morning. In turn, many have difficulty falling asleep at night because light lasts later into the evening.

When does daylight saving time end 2022? What it means for your clocks, calendar and sleep

DST in Mexico: Mexico scraps daylight saving time except along border with US

Especially this time of year, right before daylight saving time ends, “the biggest problem is our internal clock doesn’t know it’s time to wake up,” Dr. Jennifer Martin, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, told USA TODAY.

The Department of Transportation, which oversees daylight saving time, says the practice saves energy, reduces crime and prevents traffic accidents. But many medical experts disagree – saying the health consequences of losing sleep outweigh the time change’s potential benefits.

“The benefits are theoretical and the harms are proven,” Martin said.

Of course, healthy sleep is essential. Previous studies, including some that look specifically into the health impacts of daylight saving time, have found that long term sleep deficiency is linked to increased risk of depression, substance use disorder, cardiovascular disease and more.

Citing these health consequences, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine issued a 2020 position statement calling for the U.S. to eliminate daylight savings time and adopt year-round standard time nationwide.

Back up. How does daylight saving time work?

If you’re in a one of the 48 states that currently practice daylight saving time, you change your “wall” clocks twice a year. In the spring, the annual period of daylight savings begins – with clocks jumping forward an hour ahead of standard time and staying on “daylight savings time” until mid-fall.

Right now, we’re nearing the end of daylight saving time – with clocks across most of the country falling back an hour on Sunday.

Returning to standard time, as most of the U.S. does the first Sunday of November, is usually “the easier (time change) to adapt to, Abbott says, adding that she encourages people to “take advantage of that time to try to get a little bit of extra sleep.”

Still, it can be an adjustment. Martin notes that people who already struggle with sleep issues, like insomnia, and parents with infants are particularly impacted. “Most of us feel the disruption in the spring when we lose an hour of the nighttime – but even in the fall as we’re switching back, some people have a hard time adjusting,” Martin said. “It’s sort of like having a little bit of jet lag twice a year.”

What about the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021?

In March, the U.S. Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021. If the bill becomes law, daylight saving time would be permanent in all but two states, Arizona and Hawaii, and a handful of U.S. territories – where standard time is used year round.

Advocates of adopting this legislation have pointed to the potential economic and safety benefits – including recent research that’s suggested permanent daylight saving will bring significantly less deer-vehicle collisions. Still, studies report mixed results. Past research from the University of Colorado Boulder, for example, found a 6% spike in car accidents right after daylight saving’s annual “spring forward.”

From a medical standpoint, many experts again stress that adopting permanent standard time, not daylight time, is critical.

“We actually oppose the Sunshine Protection Act because of the potential health and safety risks associated with daylight savings time in the winter months,” Martin said. “The highest risk, of course, will be in the northern states – where, in some metropolitan areas, sunrise won’t occur until 9:30 in the morning or later… We think about students going to school (in the dark).”

Experts and historians have also noted that the U.S. has tried to switch to a permanent daylight savings time before – but it did not last.

Permanent daylight saving time? America tried it before … and it didn’t go well.

Abbott adds that, while just about everyone wants to “get rid of the switch back and forth” that comes with two time changes each year, “the real question is, ‘Which direction should we go?’ … From sleep and health perspective, the best route seems to be permanent standard time.”

Contributing: Wyatte Grantham-Philips / Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY.