Holiday Stress Can Strain Your Back

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Holiday Stress Is a Pain in the Neck and Spine

Striving for perfection during the holidays can lead to stress, and that can put an extra strain on your spine.


The holiday season is fast approaching. Time with family and friends, parties, gift-giving, special meals — how can something that seems so enjoyable be so stressful?
Many people get depressed during the holidays, and these feelings can result in increased fatigue, moodiness, and tension. When we are under stress, we tend to become tense, which can put pressure on the spine and lead to an aching neck and back.
Here are some tips that will help you stay positive during the holidays, and avoid stress-related back and neck pain:

  • Focus on what’s important. Reflect on your beliefs and values as they relate to the season, and try to spend time with those who share your priorities.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat healthfully, and take note of any early signs of stress. Instead of giving in to your cravings for sweets, caffeine, and alcohol, choose meals that feature lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and dark, leafy greens. The body converts the beta-carotene found in dark, leafy greens and most orange vegetables and fruits into vitamin A, an antioxidant essential for back health that helps process protein, repair tissue, and form strong bones.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no. Set boundaries for yourself and your family during the busy holiday season, and never say yes to a request immediately, even if you are confident you can fulfill the obligation. Give yourself some time to think about it and consider carefully whether this is something you really want to do before you respond to the request.
  • Get some fresh air and sunshine. Spending at least 30 minutes each day outdoors, even on cloudy and stormy days, will help you get enough vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium, a mineral that helps build bones and avoid joint and musculoskeletal pain and osteoporosis.
  • Follow your joy. What holiday activities bring you the most happiness? Concentrate on those and don’t worry about the other things that may make you frustrated and increase your stress level.
  • Make daily priorities and stick to them. Focus on getting a manageable number of tasks done each day. Don’t take on too much to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
  • Have realistic expectations. During the holiday season, it is not uncommon for people to want things to be perfect. Try to resist this urge and avoid frustration by accepting that things don’t always work out as we planned.

According to a study published by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), expectations have a large effect on pain, and positive thinking produces about a 28 percent decrease in pain, equal to a shot of morphine. The NINDS data showed that what you think can really change what you experience, and positive expectations, particularly during the busy, stressful holiday season, can be an important addition to managing chronic pain and maintaining spinal health.
Image Copyright: whitestar1955 / 123RF Stock Photo

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