Tips for Physical Therapy Patients on How to Handle Holiday Stress
As the holidays are closely approaching, it can become overwhelming and hectic to manage busy schedules, self-care, gift lists, and holiday events. As physical therapists, we recognize this increase in stress around the holidays with our patients reporting increased anxiety, pain, or soreness while planning for the holidays.
Believe it or not, stress can actually create increased sensitivity in your nervous system which can make your body more uncomfortable as well as suppress your immune system which can make you more susceptible to getting ill. That’s why it is SO important to know how to manage your stress not only around the Holiday season but the rest of the year as well!
Below are helpful tips to stay healthy and well over the holiday season:
Continue to move your body!
It can become easy to be more sedentary over the holiday season with more time spent traveling, visiting with family/friends, and online shopping. Staying in one position can decrease your blood flow to all of your soft tissues and joints and can result in increased stiffness and/or pain. Try to take a break every hour from prolonged sitting. This can include standing, walking, stretching, etc.. Like we say to our patients all the time, MOVEMENT is MEDICINE!
Attempt to space out your shopping, cooking, baking, and wrapping gifts throughout the week, instead of performing these tasks all in one day. Breaking up these tasks and spacing them throughout your week will allow for short bouts of activity on a daily basis. And, planning ahead will decrease the amount of stress you feel about getting your goals completed.
Make time to perform your physical therapy exercises.
Life happens. It is easy for your home exercise program to be placed on the back burner. Set a reminder on your phone or in your planner to perform your physical therapy home exercises throughout the holiday season. You may find it helpful to place your exercises on the refrigerator as a constant reminder!
Set aside time for you!
Take 5 – 10 minutes each day in order to do what makes YOU happy! This may include: walking, spending time with family/friends, baking, reading your favorite book, or playing with your pet! This will assist with maintaining good mental health which is VERY VERY important!
Everything is okay in moderation!
Temptations are all around us during the holidays with good food, cookies, candies, and alcohol. Be mindful of not overindulging in sweet treats and good drinks, but allow yourself a treat every once in a while. After all, the holidays only come once a year!
Spend time outdoors!
The weather has been beautiful these past couple of weeks! Take a 5 – 10 minute break by going on a walk outside. If it is too cold outside, sit by a window to get exposed to the light from the outside. Being outdoors exposes us to sunlight, which increases vitamin D and production of serotonin – thus improving our overall mood!
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