The holiday season can be a stressful time between gift shopping, traveling, and cooking to name but a few. High stress levels and out-of-the-ordinary physical activities can be a recipe for injuries, and who wants injuries during the holiday season (or ever)?
I would love for each and every one to enjoy a fun, pain-free holiday season filled with an abundance of joy and togetherness. Therefore, I’ve decided to write about injury prevention during this hectic time, by paying attention to one’s body and its ergonomics and mechanics.
- Be Mindful
It may seem like a buzz word, but most accidents or injuries happen because we are not present, or mindful about what we’re doing in the moment. We are thinking about something else while doing what we’re doing. We are in a rush. We aren’t paying attention. While not being mindful at times is inevitable, make a conscious choice to catch yourself wandering off in thought and bring yourself present.
Check your posture, your body mechanics, your movements, and most importantly, check to see if you’re breathing full, deep breaths and enjoying the moment whether it’s finding the perfect gift, or cooking and baking holiday delights.
- Good Ergonomics
Now that you’re mindful, pay attention to the way you find yourself sitting, at your desk, in your car, or on the plane. We are finding ourselves sitting a little more traveling, or visiting with loved ones over the holidays. If we are in poor sitting positions for extended periods of time, and/or for days at a time, our backs and necks will feel it and we may just wake up one morning with a spasm that takes the joy right out of our holidays. As best you can, find the proper position for your neck/back when you’re sitting.
Golden rule: keep your spine aligned from head to tailbone, and have your knees and elbows at the proper height. These diagrams show optimal ergonomic set-ups for a couple of places you may find yourself in this holiday season.
- Proper Body Mechanics
Mindfulness is a key player here as well…if we’re not paying attention to the way we move, we run the risk of injury. There are a few activities that put us at an increased risk of back injuries especially over the holidays:
- Traveling: lifting and carrying luggage improperly can be a big threat to our back health.
- Make sure you squat properly when you lift
- Keep your spine straight (not straight UP, just in a straight line as you hinge forward at your hips).
- Keep your luggage close to your body
- Cooking/baking: prolonged standing and bending to get dishes and deliciousness out of the oven can cause neck and back injuries.
- Bend at your hips, not your back/neck
- Stand without locking your knees, perhaps even left one foot onto a step stool and alternate
- Take breaks from one position – prolonged positions cause tissue tightness and aching
- Decorating: Getting into awkward positions to get the holiday decorations to look picture perfect can often come with a price of pain.
- Try to avoid awkward bending or twisting.
- Take your time, and ask for help
I include a couple of diagrams to refer to to help keep your back and neck healthy and happy.
- Find time for you
With a focus on finding the right gifts for everyone, spending more time in the kitchen cooking and baking for friends and loved ones, or making sure you’re making it to all the festive invitations, it is easy to overextend ourselves and neglect the most important person and his/her needs: YOU.
Make sure you balance out giving to others with giving to yourself, which may be as simple as an earlier retreat to the bedroom some evenings, or taking time for a leisurely soak in the bath tub. Whatever it is you need to feel loved by you, give it shamelessly and abundantly.