On Thursday June 15th, I really enjoyed meeting with more than fifteen elite travel agents and leading them through 30-minute morning meditation sessions at the Four Seasons Hotel Downtown New York. All of them were excited about the Air Beautiful Travel Holistics programs we discussed. I felt strong about the bright future of my business, when all travelers get the benefit of the Air Beautiful travel holistics program to fly well and feel well.
A variety of challenges revolves around traveling. Among all challenges, the physiological challenges on the airplane are unique and in most cases unavoidable. They directly affect our well-being during and after the flight, a.k.a. how good we feel, in conjunction with psychological, emotional, social, and other challenges we may face when traveling. Let's find out about what really happens to the body during the flight.
Fact 1: Air pressure on a commercial airliner cabin is 75% of that at sea level.
Airplane cabins have to be pressurized because the air at the altitude airplanes fly is too thin for humans to breathe. The average passenger jet has a cruising altitude of between 30,000 feet to 40,000 feet, and long flights are typically assigned to cruise at the higher side of this range. While a private jet can fly at a height of up to 45,000 feet, most cruise at 41,000 feet which is generally higher than a commercial airline flight.
Atmospheric pressure is created by the weight of the air. As we ascend to higher altitude, atmospheric pressure goes down. This means that air gets thinner as we ascend higher. Since the body gets oxygenated most effectively and efficiently with the density of air at sea level, altitude sickness may happen due to the deficiency of oxygen (hypoxia) at higher altitudes.
The regulations specify that air pressure in the cabin of a commercial airliner must not be lower than that found at an altitude of 8,000 feet (2,438m), which is 75% of air pressure at the sea level. This altitude was chosen to maintain the integrity of the shape of the aircraft by keeping the difference between internal and external atmospheric pressures of the aircraft as small as possible; while, at the same time, making sure that the atmospheric pressure inside the air cabin is not too low, as passengers could suffer from altitude sickness due to oxygen deprivation.
Altitude sickness is commonly experienced by the people who are not acclimatized to high altitudes and who moved from low altitudes to high altitudes above 8,000 feet quickly. Signs and symptoms of altitude sickness are similar to a hangover, including throbbing headache, loss of appetite, nausea, sickness in stomach, fatigue, trouble sleeping, and dizziness. If you've ever been to Aspen, Colorado (7,907 feet high above sea level), Vail, Colorado (8,022 feet high) or Mexico City (7,382 feet high), you may have experienced becoming fatigued more easily than at sea level.
Minor symptoms such as breathlessness may occur at an altitude of 5,000 feet, and altitude sickness can begin to appear around 6,600 feet above the sea level. No wonder why we sometimes experience mild altitude sickness-like symptoms on a flight, as the air pressure is set as if we are at an altitude of 8,000 feet.
The cabin pressure more evidently affects people sensitive to pressure changes in their inner ears and sinuses. Scuba divers flying within the "no fly" period after a dive are at risk of decompression sickness, as dissolved gasses, mainly nitrogen, can come out of solution and create bubbles in the bloodstream. During ascending to and descending from cruising altitude, passengers may experience pain in middle ear, and/or tooth pain due to the change in pressure.
Some business jets keep the cabin pressure equal to that at 6,000 feet despite the fact they fly at higher altitudes than commercial airlines. The cabin pressure equal to the lower altitude and closer to sea level creates an atmospheric environment where passengers can oxygenate their blood better and enjoy a more comfortable flight with less physiological challenges related to altitude sickness than they may encounter in a commercial flight.
When we are about to fly, especially on a commercial airliner, hypoxia, or oxygen deficiency during flight is one of the things I suggest that we all should consider. I would like to introduce easy self care tips in the next posting.
Well-being is a multi-dimensional concept that can be observed from the physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, social, financial, and many other perspectives. Well-being can include a sense of being balanced, centered, optimal, positive, happy, healthy, satisfied, connected, peaceful, and many other pleasant emotions and moods. In simplest terms, well-being can be described as feeling good. Well-being seems like a broad and abstract concept to work with.
We can say that travel wellness is about feeling good before, during, and after traveling. In order to achieve well-being around traveling, I wanted to present something substantial and measurable everybody can easily observe and work with. I chose the five pillars of well-being: CLARITY, COMPASSION, PRESENCE, VITALITY, and RESILIENCE because I've seen those five qualities easily and often disrupted in case of traveling. In other words, we can effectively optimize our well-being by monitoring and maintaining those five qualities when facing the challenge of traveling. I'm so excited to discuss what each pillar means, what happens when it gets disrupted, and how to restore it.
I also use the five pillars of well-being to observe and analyze my clients and to create each customized air beautiful travel wellness program. The five pillars of well-being keep me and my clients on the same page and help us work together as a team to achieve the goal.
It is my hope that the five pillars of well-being serves you as a vital tool to help you stay in control of your well-being while traveling.
It is not an exaggeration to say that stress management is the key to success and happiness. Traveling is certainly stressful on both the body and mind. If you're regularly stressed, your cortisol level (stress hormone) is constantly elevated. That leads to imbalances in your hormones, circulatory system, and neural function. Literally everything goes wrong.
Simple yoga poses and pranayama breathing practice help us slow down and help create a relaxation response that resets the nervous system.
Never done yoga before? No worries. I will guide you through it.
Sukhasana, Easy Pose. This pose helps us calm the mind, stretch knees and ankles, and strengthen the back. Let's do it together.
1. Sit comfortably either in crossed legs position or on a chair. Choose the one that doesn't give you any pain, especially in the knees.
2. Keep your spine naturally straight. You can lean against the wall if that's easier for you.
3. If you're sitting in the crossed-leg position, feel free to use a cushion or blanket to make your knees and legs comfortable and stable. If you're sitting on a chair, make sure your feet are apart at the hip width and gently planted on the floor.
4. Place your hands on your thighs or knees, whichever it is easy for you. Palms up or down as you like and relax your hands.
5. Turn your neck slowly to the right and left. Find an easy place for your neck, so that you can breathe naturally.
6. Relax your facial muscles and gently close your eyes. Relax your jaw and softly close your lips.
7. Bring your awareness to your breath. You will start to feel your own inhalation and exhalation. Stay with the breath.
8. Keep observing your breath. Tension in your body may draw your attention. Thoughts may keep coming up in your mind without a break. That's so natural. It is ok, so take it easy. Gently shift your focus back to your breathing.
9. Start from as short a time period as you feel comfortable. Gradually make it longer, stretching into 5 to 10 minutes, but don't force things.
10. When coming out of the pose, gently open your eyes. Slowly bring your arms up alongside your ears to make a big stretch. Observe how you feel. Stay with the sense of relaxation and calmness you created. You can do this pose as many times as you like throughout the day.