While the holidays are meant to remind and reconnect us of the most important things our lives, whether that’s our friends, family, spirituality, or personal reflections and resolutions on years’ ending and beginning, there are a lot of factors that distract and disconnect us during the holiday season. Sometimes these distractions can take center stage—and for many of us, prevent a happy holiday even if we’re not totally aware of it. The stress, indulgence, increasing demands, and high expectations of late fall and early winter holidays can take a serious toll on our bodies, minds and overall wellness. Whether it’s through choices we make or circumstances thrust upon us, we often end up paying the price long after the table is cleared, the lights are taken down and we’re gearing up for a long winter and a new year.
While the holidays are a wonderful time that we associate with fond memories, milestones and festive feelings, they’re also a time that’s connected to aggravation of chronic pain, poor dietary choices, personal injury, accidents, high stress and even heart attacks. So this year, starting with Thanksgiving, why not try some new holiday traditions? No, that doesn’t mean overhauling or even altering everything you’ve come to love about the holidays. It just means being prepared, being balanced and mindful when it comes to your health, happiness and wellness. For the sake of improving your body and being, try these fall and winter holiday tips—and give yourself a real reason to celebrate.
- Set the table, string the lights, but don’t forget to stretch! Although it’s no excuse to pack on the calories (we’ll get to that next), preparing for the holidays can be a real workout! Unlike daily exercises and workout routines, pre-holiday planning and activities might call on you to use muscles and perform tasks that your body isn’t used to. So before you aggravate an injury or create a new one, take the time to stretch and get centered. This includes stretching and warming up before you clean the house for guests, lift a frozen turkey, lug firewood or hang decorations. Even if you feel silly getting in a quick parking lot stretch before you head into the mall or supermarket, your body will thank you!
- Your body doesn’t know the difference between a holiday and everyday eating! It’s widely accepted that holiday parties and feasts are free pass to over indulge, enjoy excessive amounts of food and drink, and then submit to complete inactivity for the rest of the festivities. It’s true, the holidays are special, but for many people, holiday eating can be a slippery slope into bad health habits—no matter what resolutions we set for ourselves. To combat this common occurrence without feeling deprived, rethink your portion sizes. Before you go in for seconds or reload your dessert plate, take a walk around the block, get some fresh seasonal air outdoors, see if your host needs any help with cleaning, or have a stretch while checking in at the kids table. Just spending fifteen minutes focused on conversation between helpings can help you understand just how full you’re feeling and prevent you from eating to the point of discomfort. It puts your focus on those around you rather than the plate in front of you.
- If you’re traveling, don’t leave self-care behind. Getting on a long flight or preparing to drive for hours at a time can be a real discomfort for anyone, but if you suffer from chronic pain, the though alone can be unbearable. There are a few things you can do to naturally ease physical and mental travel woes. Before you get in the car or prepare to board your flight, a walk around the terminal or block can help get your circulation going, ease stress, and make the thought of sitting for long periods a little more welcome. Preparing for any hot or cold therapeutic treatments can help as well. Portable heat packs, or even using a washcloth and plastic bag and pit-stop hot water for tea, can be used as a heat compress to soothe trouble spots. Pack an insulated lunch bag with a cold pack to use for reduction of inflammation and swelling. Plan your schedule, go with the flow, and make stops to stretch, walk and do simple therapeutic exercises as you need them. Even focused breathing can help ease discomfort. When flying, call your airline ahead of time to let them know of any conditions you have. Even if they don’t have special accommodations, it doesn’t hurt to ask a flight attendant for a small bag of ice or a warm towel if it’ll help ease any aches and pain.
- If you’re feeling over extended, it’s okay to step back! During the holidays, stress comes from all sources. Even if we think we’re going to do it all different this year and have plenty of time and energy to get things done with lots leftover-- that time and energy almost always has a way of getting filled up. Our bodies store stresses more than we realize; which is why physical breaking points can seem to come so suddenly. If you feel the stress stacking up, don’t be afraid to ask for help or say no as needed. Don’t strive for perfection at the cost of your own wellness.
Remember, you don’t have to wait until after the holidays to recharge and renew your body. Come see us for chiropractic care throughout the fall and winter!