Because there are better things you can do than check Facebook for the 500th time.
Ways to Pass the Time While Traveling
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'Tis the season to squeeze onto an airplane that never seems to have enough leg room but always has enough overpriced Wi-Fi. Or maybe you went the road-trip route and you're lucky enough to have cell service while you're riding shotgun. But raise your hand if you spend the majority of that travel time staring at your phone: reloading Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat every 5 minutes on repeat. Everyone? Yep! As if travel weren't stressful enough, studies show that using your phone too much can cause higher incidences of anxiety and depression. Not exactly the festive holiday cheer you had in mind, right? Instead, of resorting to the same social apps and games, throw your phone on airplane mode and try these healthier ways to pass the time.
Grab a Coloring Book
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Are you stressed out about all those unanswered emails you didn't get to before you boarded? Or maybe you are absolutely terrified of flying? If you haven't already run to the closest craft store for an adult coloring book, there is no better time to do so than the holiday season. Studies show that coloring can be a therapeutic activity and help you relax and relieve outside tension. (So, adult coloring books really are worth the hype.) There is a wide variety of coloring books to choose from, so whether you want to create lifelike images of the beach (ah, warmer weather) or get lost in the soothing pattern of a mandala (round figures that represent the universe in Buddhist cultures), there's a coloring book for you. Just 30 minutes of coloring can significantly reduce feelings of anxiety (gifts to wrap, relatives to see). So download and print our SHAPE-exclusive coloring book, grab some colored pencils, put in your headphones, and get creative.
Listen to Music
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Listening to music while driving may be the most common way to reduce boredom, but it actually plays a big role in your driving performance. Jamming to your favorite radio station was proven to keep drivers in a good mood. But even more important, during a highly demanding ride—like those awful two-lane back roads to Grandma's!—drivers listening to music were able to remain more calm compared to those driving in silence. Flying or taking the train back home? If you have trouble sleeping en route, try listening to classical music. It's been shown to put you in a relaxed state, which can reduce sleeping problems. Time to switch Pandora to Mozart radio and catch some zzz's.
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Let's face it, traveling is stressful. Between the hours spent getting from point A to point B and the big bucks you have to shell out, all you can do to survive is just breathe. It seems simplistic, but there are endless benefits to doing just that. Meditative breathing has been shown to help you fall asleep, feel more confident, and frankly, breathe out the BS. One study even found that regular meditators were able to harness parts of their brain that allowed them to make rational decisions under pressure—sounds like a holiday lifesaver, right? So take a time-out before you hop out of the car after a long ride, before you have to make any holiday decisions, so you can calm your nerves when it comes to meeting the future in-laws.
Write It Down
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Journaling has long been linked to both emotional and physical benefits. Expressive writing has been shown in numerous studies to help you heal from emotional or traumatic experiences, encourage self-discovery, and even improve your pain threshold. Of course, you also know that food journaling can help you lose weight by tracking foods—something that can quickly get out of control during the holidays.
Play Crosswords or Other Brain Games
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Crossword puzzles may seem pretty antiquated with all the iPad games and endless smartphone apps available now, but the old-school brain games and puzzles have been proven to preserve brainpower. Plus they'll help you grow your vocabulary, so you can impress all the relatives who haven't seen you in a few years. Another reason to pick up a real newspaper or crossword puzzle book at the travel center? The more time you spend on your phone and online, the more your brain struggles to recall information—not exactly useful when trying to fill out a tricky crossword.