Survive and Thrive During the Holidays!
As the stress goes up pain usually does as well. The holidays can bring joy and good cheer but they can also bring your no good Cousin Bill out of the woodwork to eat all your food and frighten your kids. You can usually get Cousin Bill out of the house after the pumpkin pie is finished but the stress sticks around when you think of seeing him on Christmas.
With stress comes a host of things that cause issues. Cortisol levels in our body rise which increases inflammation. Most people carry stress in their shoulders which can lead to distorted posture and shoulder and back pain. Our energy level drops and that causes us to stop doing the things that are most important when we feel this way: exercise and eating healthy. This all leads to more pain and discomfort.
What I want to do today is give you some ideas to relieve some of the pain that develops at these times.
1. Keep doing the things you should be doing. The worst time to jump off the “healthy habits” bandwagon is when you’re under stress. All that will do is make you feel even more stressed. You know these things are going to happen, so mentally plan for them and schedule your time accordingly. And what better time to leave for the gym then when Cousin Bill is going to come by looking for leftovers?
2. Get your soft tissue work in. You can go for a massage or use your foam roller (if you don’t know what that is or how to use one, go here). All of that stress creates tightness and good soft tissue work helps break that down. Soft tissue work increases flexibility, mobility, circulation and gives you a laundry list of other benefits. If you still haven’t gotten on the foam roller bandwagon GET ON IT NOW!! Your body will dislike you a little at first, but will love you soon after.
3. Work those hips! I liken the hips to a door. You can have the best door made out of the most beautiful oak and a strong door frame to hang it from, but if the hinge is made out of cheap metal and breaks, then you have a lousy door. Your hips are the hinge. Most of us have tight, immobile hips because we sit for so much of the day. People don’t realize that most back pain doesn’t come from back issues, it comes from poor hip function, so stand up, get moving and get stretching. Good hips will make your whole body function and feel better.
4. Work those shoulders! If the hips are number one in making your body feel better than your shoulders are 1A. If you carry stress in your shoulders, as most people do, that causes tightness in the trapezius/neck area. That leads to all sorts of fun stuff like rotator cuff injuries, back pain, headaches, more stress and bad posture. In other words, the stress in your shoulders begets more stress in your shoulders! Not good. The most important thing to improve your shoulder posture is awareness, so be aware of keeping your body in the “chest up, shoulders down” position. That will make a huge difference. As a bonus it will look like you lost some weight, too!
5. Just go with it. Sometimes the holidays require us to do some things we might not necessarily want to do. Just do your best to go with it. You don’t have a choice so do your best to enjoy the time.
6. Enjoy yourself. At the end of the day the holidays should be about enjoying yourself and being thankful for what you have. Don’t forget that!