The holidays are an exciting time of year, but with that excitement can come stress. For people with chronic neck or back pain, the effort of getting everything done can diminish the pleasure of the Christmas season. But Canberra Spine Centre is here to help, with six tips to help make this time a more enjoyable and comfortable one for you and your family.
1. Take Care of Yourself
Christmas and the holidays can be so busy that your normal exercise and eating routines can go out the window. You don’t need to let this happen. Reasonable (not perfect!) exercise and diet is possible, no matter how busy your life becomes.
If time becomes too tight for a full exercise routine, consider a shorter one or breaking your exercise into mini-routines across the day. A quick blast around the block, an intense 20-minute workout in the gym (try some high intensity interval training – HIIT – on the bike or elliptical), or even a minute of squats, push-ups and/or sit-ups. Something quick and easy can really raise your metabolism and give you energy.
Christmas time is certainly a time when you can stack on the un-wanted kilos quickly. Weight gain can not only aggravate neck, back, and joint pain due to increased load bearing and altered body posture, but it can also influence you hormonally, thus affecting your health in other ways. Be sure to have a plan in place before the holiday meals, events, and parties take place.
Here are a few tips for controlling what you eat:
- If you are going to a social event that features food, be sure to eat a healthy meal ahead of time to prevent overeating when you get there.
- At the event, fill up on foods high in fibre, such as leafy greens, sprouts, beans, squash, etc, as well as lean proteins. Avoid lots of potatoes, rice and bread with your main meal – these break down quickly into sugars, causing stress for your pancreas, liver, and lead to weight gain. Foods higher in fibre and protein will not break down quickly (in the case of protein, not at all) into sugars, instead releasing energy more slowly.
- Don’t worry – you don’t have to miss out on all the yummy food. Just try smaller portions, and eat SLOWLY. When you take the time to really savour and enjoy your food, your stomach will have the time to send those ‘I’m full’ messages to your brain, and you won’t feel like stuffing yourself!
- Drink lots of water. Sometimes we feel hungry or fatigued when what we really need is to be hydrated. Water will energise you as well as make you feel a little more full. Water is also a much healthier alternative than soft drinks or alcoholic drinks. If you really enjoy a glass or two of wine or beer, alternate each glass with a glass of water. You’ll feel so much better for it!
2. Simplify Shopping
Walking around crowded shopping malls, then sitting in the car for ages trying to get out of the car park, before lugging presents out of the boot can be a challenge for anyone with back pain. Make it easier on yourself and consider gift cards or online shopping for presents. You can avoid the queues, lifting and extra stress that often accompanies the hunt for Christmas presents.
3. Decorate in a Group
Don’t decorate by yourself. Enlist a family member or friend to help. One person can hand lights and ornaments to the other person to put on the tree. You’ll have more fun, and take away a lot of the stress that can be placed on your spine when you are stretching or lifting awkwardly.
4. Focus on Posture
There really is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ posture. Mostly, this is because we are made to move. Even with a great sitting or standing posture, staying there for hours in the same place will cause stress and strain on your spine and result in nervous system interference. So if you’re travelling, whether by car, bus, train or plane, get out (well, out of your seat if you in a plane!) and have a walk and a stretch periodically, to change the loads on your spine. At that Christmas lunch and dinner, don’t sit on your butt all day. Get up and play some games with the youngsters, or at the least, get up and go for a walk or help out in the kitchen. Moving will help alter loads, as well has help you digest the feast!
5. See your Chiropractor
A pre-holiday check-up, even if you are “pain-free” can be a very good thing. Being in your best shape, with your nervous system working at its best, is a great way to help you through the stresses of Christmas time. Your body will cope better with the stresses placed on it (travel, food, family feuds) when your nervous system is free of interference. If you can’t make it in before Christmas, get a check-up ASAP in the New Year. Spinal alignment has a huge influence on your overall health and wellbeing. Accumulated some unwanted stresses over the Christmas period? Let us help you out!
6. Look Ahead
As you plan for the coming year, consider easy ways to improve your spine and nervous system function. This can be as simple as adding a 5 to 15 minute walking break to your day, signing up for a yoga class, or finally replacing your old mattress.
Benefits Of Chiropractic Care for the Christmas break
There are many benefits of chiropractic care at the holidays!
- Make holiday travel easier. The stress on your body caused by long periods of travel can make your muscles feel painful and weak, or make your back ache and your neck stiff. Your chiropractor can help you avoid these problems.
- Avoid muscle tension. The more stress you feel, the more tension you’ll feel in your muscles. Muscles get tight when the nerves that supply them are irritated, when they are over-working to move stiff joints, or when they are protecting damaged areas. When your spine and nervous system is moving and working better, your muscles have less reason to be tense and will be more at ease.
- Reduce stress. Chiropractors, by adjusting the spine, help your nervous system adapt to stress in your environment and thus help you cope with, rather than succumb to, stress. Visiting the chiropractor can often help you feel better physically and mentally, which can help you experience less stress during the Christmas season.
- Boost immunity. When your chiropractor improves the motion in your spine, this improves the functioning of your nervous system, and the immune system it controls. When your immune function improves, your resistance to things like colds and the flu will also improve. Many of our patients tell us that they experience better immunity as their nervous system function improves.
Reducing Holiday Stress With Canberra Spine Centre
If you have stress-related issues that might be pushed over the edge by the Christmas period, let us help you take control of them at Canberra Spine Centre. We are located in O’Connor and serve patients from all over Canberra. We are located centrally and thus within a short drive of most of Canberra. The onsite parking is free and very easy to access.