Ah the holidays… a time for gathering with friends and family, drinking too much (cocoa), and eating yummy treats.
But not everyone gets to kick back and relax. For some the holiday presents a dizzying array of demands—cooking meals, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining, to name just a few. If you find yourself stressed out with the upcoming holidays, we have tips for you about how to stay healthy and pain-free this year.
So you’ve bought all your gifts, now it’s time to wrap them…if only you had magical elves to finish that task for you. Wrapping presents can be a long process, especially if you’ve left it until the last minute (men, i’m looking at you).
Getting all your gift wrapping done in one sitting can wreak havoc on our bodies—usually we find ourselves sitting on the living room floor crouched over, wrapping frantically. Ideally, try to avoid doing all your gift wrapping at once—instead do a few presents at a time. This will not only aid with body aches but with stress caused by the last-minute rush as well. Regardless, when you do get to wrapping those presents, position yourself appropriately, preferably seated at a table. If you are one of our last-minute wrappers, try to take multiple breaks to move around and stretch.
The busiest time to travel for most people is during the holiday season. Sitting for long periods of time in a car, train, or plane can take a toll on our bodies, specifically our lower backs and necks.
Try using a neck pillow and/or a lumbar roll to help give you the support and comfort you need. If driving, make a quick pit stop every hour to two hours to stretch your legs and walk around. Carrying and lifting luggage can also be an issue with travelling. Try to use a suitcase with four wheels and an extendable handle. This will help improve your body mechanics if you have to lug a suitcase around an airport. If you are having any issues with your upper body or low back, ask someone to help you lift heavy items.
In terms of prevention, stretching your neck and low back or doing some pelvic tilts by hip rocking back and forth while sitting can help limit soreness before it starts!
Lifting and carrying
Bags filled with gifts, a turkey or ham (your choice), small children… what do they all have in common? They can be heavy!
When lifting or carrying, it is important to watch your body mechanics, especially with a heavy load. When picking something up get as close to the object as possible and use your hips and knees to bend, avoiding bending from the back. Then, continue to keep the object close to your body once you are carrying the object. If you already have some pre-existing issues with your low back or any upper or lower body issues, make sure you ask for help for the heavier work.
To help you survive the weeks leading up to the holiday season, plan ahead by creating a schedule so you can visualize the things you have to do and avoid feeling like you are running out of time. While you’re at it, don’t forget to schedule time for self-care—it’s easy to forget about the most important person during this time of year: YOU! While we’re talking about scheduling, it’s important to recognize that you can’t do everything and be everything all the time. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to certain engagements.
Consider creating a budget for the holiday season. Spending too much over the holidays can lead to major stress, anxiety, and depression when you see those credit card statements in the New Year. To keep a cap on your spending, try hosting a potluck instead of going out to dinner, giving homemade gifts or doing family gift exchanges like “Secret Santa”.
Lastly, don’t abandon your healthy habits. Even though this is a busy time of year, try to make time for some exercise and try to stick to healthy diet and sleep routines.
Diet, nutrition, and exercise
Speaking of trying to stick to a healthy diet…
The holiday season is a perfect time for some tasty appetizers, filling dinners, and sugary desserts. Have a healthy snack before holiday meals so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese, or drinks. If you know you are going to indulge in a luxurious meal later, plan a healthier meal earlier in the day. Be cognizant of your alcohol consumption. The effects of alcohol and hangovers can actually induce anxiety and increase stress. Include regular physical activity in your daily routine. After all, exercise—even just a walk—helps with our cardiovascular and mental well-being.
Let’s not forget, Santa may be the best toy maker in the world, but he isn’t invincible to pain, discomfort, and stress in his busiest time of the year. Lo and behold, no amount of hot cocoa or cookies can quick-fix some of these issues that may arise; and as far as we know there is no magic pill to prevent aches, pains, and stress around the holiday season. So give yourself a Christmas present this year by doing all you can to stay in good health.
A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!
For more information or to book an appointment call 705-380-3312 or visit the website. Surge Physiotherapy is located at 33 King William Street, Suite 204, in Huntsville. Office hours are flexible with evening appointments available (three times per week). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stephanie Bourbeau is a bilingual, Registered Physiotherapist with the College of Physiotherapist of Ontario and the Canadian Physiotherapy Association who is committed to providing a hands-on, personalized approach to physiotherapy.
Stephanie, a native to the Huntsville community, developed a passion for health and wellness during her youth while competing in cross-country running, nordic skiing, and track and field. Stephanie has always had a strong caring nature and fell in love with the physiotherapy profession while volunteering at a physiotherapy clinic during high school and university.
Stephanie continued to build on her passion for health care by attending McGill University and completing her Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology. During her Masters in Health Science of Physiotherapy, completed at the University of Ottawa, she completed internships in orthopaedic clinics, hospitals, home care, and neurology centres.