Adjusting to holiday stress

Body Health Blog

As Vancouver's Sports Chiropractor, Armitage & Associates is committed to helping you maximize your performance potential. These articles are provided to help you understand muscle and joint behavior, prevent injury, and aid recover from common activity-related injuries.



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Adjusting to holiday stress

Well, it’s that time of year again. There’s a house to clean, shopping to do, cards to send, parties to plan, food to prepare, and presents to wrap. You toss and turn at night, dreaming of crowded malls, demanding relatives, and screaming children. ‘Tis the season to be S-T-R-E-S-S-E-D!

Stress has become an alarming problem in today’s fast-paced society. It strikes nearly everybody at one time or another, leaving each victim more susceptible to illness and disease. Unfortunately, the Holiday Season is the most stressful time of the year. There are ways, however, to combat the destructive forces of stress.

Before you can effectively deal with stress, it is helpful to understand what it is and how it affects your body. Humans are naturally equipped with what is commonly called “the flight or fight response.” Every time we feel threatened or challenged, our bodies prepare for either battle or escape. Our muscles become tense, our breathing quickens, our heartbeat increases, and extra hormones are released throughout the body. This state of preparedness is also defined as “nervous tension.” It is designed to mobilize us to defensive action. If we are unable to release this stress effectively, it can produce a variety of symptoms in many different parts of the body. Common complaints resulting from stress include neck or back pain, headaches, digestive disorders, and any number of other aches and pains.

This is where your chiropractor can help. Chiropractors are trained to recognize pain symptoms that are triggered or induced by stress. As your muscles get tighter and tighter under pressure, a vertebra can become displaced and cause nerve interference, a condition called a “spinal subluxation.” The resulting pinched nerve can trigger headaches, pain in the back, neck, arms, shoulders, or any other area controlled by that nerve. This pain tends to cause further stress, which in turn causes more pain. A chiropractor can help break this cycle of pain and stress be relieving the pressure on the nerves and allowing the nervous system to function unimpaired. As subluxations are corrected and the nerve pathways are opened, the muscles tend to relax, thus enabling the patient to deal more effectively with stress.

Here are some suggestions to help keep stress under control so you can enjoy the Holiday Season:

Plan Ahead For Stress

Stress during the holidays shouldn’t be a surprise. Think of it as a regular holiday guest. Just as you would prepare ahead of time for company, you should also prepare for stress. Expect the unexpected, and make room in your schedule for stress management.

Allow For Self Time

Soak in a hot mineral bath; take a break, close your eyes and listen to soothing music; try some stretching exercises or take a short walk. Even just a few minutes alone to take some deep breaths will help.

Watch What You Eat

Avoid heavy, high-fat foods which tend to short-circuit your energy supply and cause fatigue. Caffeine and high sugar foods, while they may provide an initial burst of energy, tend to make you feel worse one the stimulus has worn off. Include plenty of water in your diet, as water helps to wash out the toxins which collect in your system as a result of stress.

Make Time For Rest

When you miss much needed sleep during the Holidays, the resulting lack of rest prevents muscles from relaxing and functioning effectively. Tossing and turning keeps your muscles flexed and tense, making your body a prime target for spinal misalignments.

See Your Chiropractor

Making chiropractic care a priority in your stress-reduction plan will help prepare you physically for the many demands of the Season. A chiropractor can help relieve the pain and discomfort associated with common holiday activities such as: carrying packages or lugging a heavy handbag over your shoulder; lifting and maneuvering Christmas trees; standing in lines for long periods; sleeping on sofas or on the floor during visits; or bending over to pick up children. All of these can cause your spinal column to become misaligned, a condition which your chiropractor can correct with spinal adjustments.

Don’t let this special time of year become a “pain in the neck” for you. Choose to make the Holiday Season happier and healthier with a stress relief strategy and a visit to your chiropractor.

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