The 12 Days of Christmas – Chiropractic Style
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The 12 Days of Christmas – Chiropractic Style – As Christmas is on its merry way, the weather is getting colder and the nights are getting longer, and everything is filled with the unique excitement that only the festive season brings. This will be my first Christmas in Eastbourne so to celebrate I thought I’d present you with my top tips and tricks to keep you well over the festive period.
Whether you prefer au naturale with a real tree or the calm efficiency of an artificial one, if you have a large tree it is important to take care of yourself while dressing your tree. There are several ways to avoid unnecessary trips to the chiropractor. Firstly, never lug a heavy tree around on your own, that job is best done with a helping hand. Make sure when you are lifting and moving your tree that you are not using your back to do all the heavy lifting, remember to bend your knees, stick your bottom out and keep your back straight as you lift. Secondly, don’t contort your body into strange and unusual shapes in order to get the ornament on the perfect branch. Make sure you have some space to move around the tree to easily place ornaments in their ideal spot. Use a step stool to aid in the process but make sure you do so with care.
Oh, the dreaded Christmas shop! Does anyone ever really enjoy the harried frenzy that this task personifies? I do, if I’m honest. But I think I might be in the extreme minority. However dreaded this task may be, there are a few ways to make it as painless as possible – both physically and figuratively. A nice option is to try get what you can online, this helps you to avoid the crowded shopping centres and harassed staff members. It is still important to be adopting a good posture while doing your shopping online. Make sure you are sitting on a chair with a good back support and that the screen you are using is as close to eye level as possible. Try to take regular brakes to move around and get your muscles working – even if it’s just a walk to the kitchen to make a cup of tea! If you are brave enough to face the crowds, make sure you pace yourself. Try not to get it all done in one frenzied whirlwind, carrying all your bags in one hand while pushing your way through fellow shoppers with the other. Break it up as much as you can by taking a break to sit down and rest every now and again, you might even be able to fit in another cup of tea! As you conquer your shopping list, use a trolley or some other aid to help you carry your wares. If that is not for you, make sure that you balance the weight of your bags evenly between each arm. You can also use to a backpack to place what you can safely on your back to avoid strain.
This is potentially my favourite part of the holiday season. However, it has also been one that has caused me headaches, much to my own chiropractor’s dismay. It is just as important to look after your posture while doing a seasonal task such as gift wrapping than it is while doing your normal everyday tasks. While gift wrapping, try to break up the task and do some of it while seated on a chair with good back support and some it while standing using a surface around hip height. This helps to avoid stiffness from sitting in one awkward position for long. Also, take regular breaks and get moving, or break the task up into several ‘sessions’ of gift wrapping over several days. When taking a break reach both arms above your head and take a few deep breaths in and out to ease any tension that may have developed in your shoulders.
This is undoubtedly a very busy time of year and there are usually a lot of after work parties and shindigs for several weeks preceding Christmas. These can often leave you feeling a little tired and washed out, no matter how much fun they may be. My best advice would be to give yourself some time off wherever you can. This may be difficult with your busy schedule but even an hour or two of downtime can make you feel refreshed. Do something that relaxes you or that brings you joy, be it reading, watching a bit of telly or going for a run. Whatever it may be, make some time to recharge your batteries. Another option is to choose to attend the events you really value and that are important and politely decline the events that are not on that list. Spreading yourself too thin will not result in an enjoyable festive period.
A bit of overindulgence is the name of the game in the festive period. With all the yummy treats that are hallmarks of the season it is hard not to overindulge. Whatever you might find yourself enjoying the most, a little bit more roast, an extra helping of Christmas pudding or some creamy eggnog, don’t fret! As with all things, moderation is key. It’s perfectly alright to enjoy the calorific treats of the festive period, that’s part of what makes it so enjoyable. Just try to remember to keep it moderate and try to balance things out where you can. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water and getting in as many fresh fruits and vegetables as you can. Your diet doesn’t need to be perfect but try not to go TOO overboard. Add in a bit more exercise in this time too. It doesn’t need to be anything strenuous, even a quick walk around the block will help.
As things ramp up and become more and more busy, you may find it difficult to find time for your regular exercise routine. Try not to beat yourself up too much. Exercise doesn’t need to be a dedicated workout in the gym or your favourite exercise class. The key is to try stay as active as you can during this time. As I mentioned above, even a walk around the block is beneficial.
Setting the table might not seem like a task that could cause you injury, but it does put the body into positions that make the back vulnerable to injury. Some of these tips might make the task seem more tedious but it can save you from a painful back injury. Firstly, don’t try to carry all the heavy crockery and items to the table in one go. Break it up and carry it in lighter loads. This has the added bonus of increasing the amount of walking you will do which is a useful form of exercise. Secondly, try not to lean too far over your table without support. This puts pressure on the discs of the spine and makes them vulnerable especially if you are lifting something heavy at the same time. If you need to reach to the middle of the table, stabilize and support yourself with one hand on the table or a nearby chair.
I don’t have any cooking tips here I’m afraid! How you cook your turkey is entirely up to you, but it is important not to strain your back while moving the bird in and out of the oven and to the table. No matter how big or heavy your Christmas meal is, it is important to adopt correct lifting techniques to avoid injury. Remember to hold the baking tray firmly with both hands close to your body. If your oven is lower than counter level, bend both knees, push your bottom out and keep your back straight as you put the turkey into the oven and do the same when you take it out again. If your oven is higher than counter level, hold the tray close to your body, stand with feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent, tuck your bottom in and squeeze your belly button towards your spine as you lift the tray to put it in the oven and do the same when you take it out again. Remember to open the oven door before you pick up the turkey!
Potentially the worst part of the season! Unfortunately, there is no easy way to get through this. I just ask that you take care of your back while you get down to the onerous task. When lifting dirty dishes and moving them to the kitchen make sure to have a firm grip with both hands and keep the load close to your body, squeeze your belly button towards your spine and tuck your bottom in while you carry the dishes to the kitchen. If you hand wash the dishes, take a break after twenty minutes to stretch and change position before continuing to do the washing up. This helps to prevent the muscles of the back from becoming stiff and sore. If you load a dishwasher, make sure you bend your knees and keep your back straight rather than lean forward.
This one may seem a little bit obvious, but it is easy to forget how easy it is to slip on some black ice. Although I don’t have a tip on how to make black ice disappear, I do advise that you keep it in mind when walking around in the cold winter weather. The last thing you want is a nasty fall and potential injury around this time of year. Remember not to overload yourself with shopping bags and goodies so much so that you cannot clearly see where you are walking. It is also helpful to even distribute any weight you are carrying evenly between each arm to aid with keeping your balance. Keep in mind the possibility of black ice even when it doesn’t seem to be that cold.
This is a truly wonderful time of year, but it can also be extremely stressful. I think that many of us assume that because it is the ‘holiday’ season, that means it will be peaceful and stress-free. For some, this may well be the case, but for others the stress may be tangible. It is just as important to manage your stress at this time of year as it is at any other time of year. Potentially more so. Managing stress is a very difficult task and it often takes a while to practice and master but worry not, I have some handy tips and tricks to help you to try keep the stress at bay. Firstly, breathe. It’s as simple as that. When you are feeling a little stressed or overwhelmed, take 5 long deep breaths. Breathe in for the count of 4 and then breathe out for the count of 4. Repeat this as many times a day as you need. The extra oxygen will help you feel calmer and more energized. Next tip is to make time, even if it is just a few minutes, for yourself and doing something that makes you feel happy. If you can find the time, set aside an hour a week to just focus on yourself.
Possibly the most important piece of advice I have as a chiropractor is to enjoy this period. Allow yourself to take the time to really embrace all that this season has to offer. Even if you’re not a fan of this time of year, find something that brings you some joy or peace and enjoy that. Be kind to one another and share this time with a generous heart.