Make Your Vacation Last Longer— Your Body, Too

Energy Express


February 2020 Issue
by Marilynn Preston

Vacations make us happy, but when we get back home, the ho-hum takes over. One week, we're bicycling in France, free as a breeze, and the following Tuesday, we're back to carpool and a messy kitchen. Were we ever away? That feeling of fun is buried under loads of emails and a to-do list as long as a barbecue fork.

Do you wish you could prolong that happy state or bring it back whenever you want? You can, according to esteemed happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of "The How of Happiness."
One way is to give yourself a visual cue. Frame that picture of you in a helmet, screaming hysterically on a river raft in the Grand Canyon. Put it on the fridge.

Take a whiff of a smell you associate with a sweet vacation moment. Basil essential oil always reminds me of good times in Nantucket, remembering a salad I make with tomato, mozzarella and lots of fresh basil. For you, one deep inhale of rosemary essential oil may bring you back to that great pizza you and the kids shared last month in San Francisco.

Co-create a photo album or a vacation video, complete with funny captions. When you're feeling bored, hungry, anxious, open it up. You can activate the joy centers of your brain without really being there by just thinking you're there, by imagining you're there. Really.

Smells activate the limbic system of the brain and transform the present moment. "They help us relive the positive experience and the positive feelings we had at the time," says Lyubomirsky.

Imagine that!

And speaking of travel, fitness expert Beverly Hosford has come up with a stress-releasing, energy-boosting 10-step routine for you to try next time you're stuck in an airplane seat, feeling cramped and crumpled.

It's based on increasing your body awareness, learning to tune in and sense when it's relaxed, unblocked, aligned. If you keep your joints juiced and your seated posture in mind when you fly, you'll arrive with more energy and fewer muscle kinks.

You can download a free audio of the sequence at or just do your best to memorize it. Above all, move slowly, consciously.

1. Sit comfortably in your seat with your feet completely touching the floor, about hip-width apart. Settle in. You're not in a hurry.

2. Close your eyes and take five deep breaths.

3. Find your neutral spine. Here's where your body awareness comes into play. Tilt your pelvis forward and backward, gently, until you come to a neutral position, the place that feels best for your spine, hips and shoulders. Only you can determine this. Have fun. (Beverly didn't mention fun, but I'm pretty sure she'd approve.)

4. Do shoulder rolls and gentle little movements until the scapulae—your shoulder blades­—are in a comfortable position.

5. Align the neck comfortably over the spine. Not too far forward, not too far back.

6. Tilt your head right and left in a gentle side bend. Gradually side-bend the rest of the spine. Repeat five times. Then come back to center.

7. Turn the head right and left gently. Gradually add the rest of the spine. Repeat five times. Then come back to center.

8. Return to a focus on your shoulder blades. Elevate and depress, protract and retract, about five times each. Use your body awareness to tune in and feel a sense of release and relief. (Be sure to keep breathing.)

9. Roll the wrists around, right and left. Spread out your fingers over your thighs with palms up. Hold this stretch for 5 to 10 seconds.

10. Roll your ankles around five times each.You can embellish this routine with some knee lifts or toe wiggles. Don't fret about getting it "right." Once you get started moving your body in a slow, focused, effortless way, it won't want to stop.

So don't. Body awareness isn't just for airplane travel. Try it at the car wash or waiting for the bus. Focus inward and scan your body from top to bottom. Where you feel tension, let it go. Use your breath to enliven your muscles, create space in your joints, align your posture.
And if the whole notion of body awareness sounds like New Age gibberish, find a yoga class and begin to explore.

“Laughter is an instant vacation."
- Milton Berle -

Marilynn Preston is the author of "Energy Express," America's longest-running healthy lifestyle column. Her new Amazon best-seller "All Is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well-Being" is available now on Amazon and elsewhere. Visit Creators Publishing at to learn more. For more on personal well-being, visit ©2020 ENERGY EXPRESS LTD.

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