Here are some tips you can use throughout the year but are especially useful during the holidays. So give yourself the gift of spending happy holidays with less stress and neck and back pain. Christmas is a time of excitement, growth, family, and friends mixed with stress.
Now there is good stress that we all use when we need it, but when everything starts to close in all around you, that’s the bad kind of stress that we want to prevent and avoid. For people with chronic back or neck pain, the strain of getting your to-do list done can take the joy of the season right out and replace it with pain and misery. Therefore plan ahead so you can get your holiday chores done without pain.
Five tips for making the holidays more enjoyable and comfortable
Tip 1 – Shop Simple
Back and leg pain and sciatica can make walking at a shopping mall almost impossible. Instead of walking, maybe pick up gift cards or go online. This way, the family and friends get to pick whatever they want, and you avoid lifting and carrying shopping bags. But, if you do buy personalized gifts, go online. Everything gets shipped straight to wherever you want.
Tip 2 – Plan Before Cooking
If you’re expecting a large crowd, prepare all you can ahead of time. For example, pies can be baked the day before.
Before you start cooking, look at the kitchen. Is there room for everyone to fit in a while helping, conversing, etc.? If not, set up the space so people can flow easily around each other and get things done.
Use your countertop to lean on every now and then for a few minutes and take the pressure off your back. Do not stay in any one position for an extended period. To help you not forget, set a timer to remind you to sit, rest, or stand. Also, let your guests help with serving and cleaning up, so any stress on the body is reduced.
Tip 3 – Make Decorating a Group Activity
Don’t decorate by yourself. Especially when moving heavy objects. Get help, so everyone is involved. This will prevent repetitive injuries when reaching or twisting and reduce stress to your and your family’s backs.
Tip 4: Make Time for Yourself
During the holidays, we can get tempted to forget about our regular eating and exercise routines.
- Stay focused, as you need strength and flexibility to accomplish these tasks. So stretch out and continue your exercise regimen no matter how hectic it gets.
- Stretching will help keep you limber and reduce the risk of a sprain or strain.
- If there is no time for your regular exercise routine, don’t drop it.
- Adapt and break up the exercises into little segments throughout the day.
Continue to eat the regular healthy meals you’re used to. Gaining weight will make back pain worse. Staying on track isn’t easy during the holidays. Take a look online for healthy strategies before the holiday parties begin.
Here are some examples:
- Eat breakfast to prevent overeating later in the day.
- At the party, fill up with low-calorie foods like vegetables, leafy green salads, and lean proteins.
- Try to stay out of easy reach of nuts, chips or candies, cookies, etc.
- If you’re going to have some high-calorie food, have some, but don’t overdo it.
- And if you’re going to indulge, try something that doesn’t come around all the time, like a piece of your aunt’s pie, cookies, cake, ham, or tamales, that you only get once a year.
Tip 5 – Look to the Future
Look ahead to the future and look up some simple ways to improve your back or neck pain. Setting goals like adding a 5-minute walk break to your day that you could gradually increase to ten, fifteen minutes, and so on. Signing up for a yoga/fitness class could be another idea. This could also be the year to replace your mattress. Whatever the case, take it all in, look at the options and figure out what works for you.
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There are 3 major categories of stress: bodily, environmental, and emotional.
- Bodily stress: Caused by lack of sleep, disease, trauma or injury, and improper nutrition.
- Environmental stress: Caused by loud noises (sudden or sustained), pollution, and world events, such as war and politics.
- Emotional stress is caused by various life events, such as moving homes, starting a new job, and regular personal interactions. In contrast to the other two categories of stress, however, people can have some control over their emotional stress. Such can depend on the individual’s own attitude.
The information herein on "Reduce Stress and Back Pain during the Holidays" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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