I’m sitting here in the airport in Florida
my first time on US soil in six months
surrounded by English speaking humans and hot dogs
in culture shock
exhausted and overwhelmed.
I have already been traveling for over twenty-four hours
I have not slept
and my flight does not arrive in New York
Exactly when will I sleep?
Hm, I’ll get back to you on that one.
Normally I spend my time in airports working.
It’s a distraction free space to write.
But when I’m this exhausted
work is entirely out of the question.
With the bright lights
and overenthusiastic Jamaican Patois
I’m in the Caribbean satellite terminal
sleep is too.
So exactly what should one do
in an airport?
Could you relax?
Could you enjoy where you are?
I know, I know.
It’s not easy.
But in the cold stale terminal
for hours upon hours
with no sleep at all
I have somehow managed
to settle in.
So here is my advice to you
when you find yourself trapped
in the stress inducing walls of an overcrowded airport.
Give yourself a massage
Ok bear with me. You’re going to have to get over your social anxiety here. It takes some security to not mind being the weird person in the airport rubbing herself or worse yet holding her hands in prayer then administering reiki. But let’s be real, when you’re wearing the same clothes for two days and your pores are leaking coconut oil could it get much more embarrassing? Your body now more than ever needs healing touch.
But if that’s too attention inducing…
Do restorative yoga
This might solicit glances and will instantly label you as the weird hippie in the airport. Especially when you’re in the United States. Just smile and say you were in Costa Rica and people will understand.
My favorite restorative pose, which can be done easily in an airport, is lying on my back with my legs extended up the wall. This pose increases blood flow to your heart and to your brain while stretching out your hamstrings. Ok, people might think you’re strange when they see you laying on the dirty airport carpet next to the vending machine, but you’ll feel so good it won’t matter.
If you must center yourself more discreetly…
Watch a meditation video
I’m positively obsessed with yogaglo.com (they did not pay me to say this, I’m not nearly cool enough for that) which has thousands of yoga and meditation videos for only $17 per month. It’s perfect when I’m traveling but also when a very specific need that may not be addressed in a public yoga class.
For instance, after I discovered that my flight was delayed by three hours making me miss my connecting flight which added two days of travel time to my itinerary, I went through the YogaGlo meditation archives and found one intended for centering during difficult transitions.
With headphones in and eyes closed most people will assume you’re napping to music.
Buy a book and read it
Do you find that you don’t read as often or as much as you’d like because you don’t have time? Well guess what, you ain’t got ish to do and Hudson News can’t wait to take your money. Read something.
This is a great time to be decadent. You’re likely feeling weary and depleted and anything that makes you feel swaddled and nurtured is good. Try to detach from needing to feel productive. Staring at your laptop trying to complete an assignment while your bloodshot eyes struggle to stay open isn’t productive anyway. Give yourself rest and care so that you will be healthy enough to work when you do get out of this prison.
Eat something indulgent and enjoy every bite of it
Particularly when you’re stuck in the far corner of Little Jamaica in the airport in the deep South, it’s hard to find healthy or remotely delicious meals. Yet there you are, hostage, paying $5 for a bottle of water. Do your best to get some protein and veggies, but there is no shame in putting away donuts and an ice cream bar.
Don’t be surprised if after all that self treatment you never want to leave.