With the holidays around the corner, it is time to prep for family gatherings, travel, and gift giving. All this excitement and preparation can cause a fair bit of stress for some people. When we are under stress our muscles tense, which can cause problems for people with back or neck pain. This can make you feel anything but festive. While there may not be a way to totally remove stress from your life, you can manage it. Here are some ways to take control of your back pain this holiday season.
It is important to know what needs to be done ahead of time. During the holidays, last minute things always come up. Take the time to list out everything you know that needs to be done and schedule it out. For example, pies can be done the day before and onions and celery can be chopped for stuffing days in advance. Leave room for when things don’t exactly go according to plan. That way, you have time to get everything done and if you happen to finish without any problems, you have some extra relaxation time. By planning beforehand, you prevent stress that can lead to muscle and joint pain throughout your body. Even while you are preparing, know how to prevent stress on your body. Take the pressure off your back by sitting down while chopping or snapping green beans. You can also lean on a high countertop for 10 to 15 seconds at a time to relax your back. Remember to set a timer to remind you to sit down, rest, or stand up.
Know Your Limits
It is always less overwhelming if you start your shopping early rather than waiting until the last few days before the holiday. This goes for gifts and food. A good alternative to traversing through a mall during the busy shopping season is to shop online. You can even have gifts shipped straight to your loved ones and avoid long lines at the post office. If you do go out, remember to know when it is time to stop. Taking on more than you can handle at one time is not good for your stress levels or your back. This mindset also goes for preparing your home. Don’t try decorating by yourself. Get someone to help you carry heavy or cumbersome objects. They can hand you lights and ornaments to hang on the tree. Take larger tasks and break them down into smaller tasks. You don’t have to do all your shopping and decorating in one day, so enjoy the holiday season and prep on your own time without stress. By knowing when to ask for help and prioritizing your tasks, your shopping and preparation will be easier to manage.
Back to the schedule, make sure you set aside time for yourself. During the holidays, we are often busy running around doing things for other people that we forget about ourselves. You won’t be at your full capacity if you don’t take time to recuperate. Take some time to relax and enjoy the holiday season. Treat yourself to a massage to work our tension in your back. Also, it is important to sleep. Lack of sleep can make your stress worse, which can make your back pain worse.
Eating regular, healthy meals during the holiday season may not be the most tempting thing when there are piles of cookies in your home. It is pretty common to put on a few pounds with all the parties and festivities. However, weight gain can make back pain worse. Like with everything, it is about moderation. If you are going to a party, eating breakfast will prevent overeating later in the day. Stocking up on vegetables, salad, and lean proteins at the dinner table will make you less hungry come dessert time. Adequate protein and the vitamins in fruits and vegetables also help your tissues heal in the case you feel back pain. If you want to indulge, don’t overdo it. Instead, pick something you don’t usually eat. Take a slice of your aunt’s special pie that she only makes once a year. It is also important to watch your water intake. Dehydration affects the structures in your back, resulting in stiffness and soreness.
You may be tempted to give up on your normal diet and exercise routine during the holidays. Don’t do it! It is important to continue strengthening and stretching your back no matter how busy you get. A controlled, gradual, and progressive exercise program is imperative to healing and strengthing your spine if you deal with chronic back pain. Stretching helps keep you limber, reducing your risk of back or neck strain. If you don’t have time for an exercise routine, don’t give it up altogether. Try breaking it up into different activities throughout the day. Yoga is a great way to strengthen your core, promote spine health, and relax at the same time. If you don’t like yoga, try going to a run or walk. Being active helps take you away from the stressful environment you’re in. Plus, your holiday break is the perfect time to consider taking up a new exercise regimen that is focused on improving your spine health.