In over 14 years of chiropractic practice you begin to notice trends, or patterns at certain times of year. When it comes to the weeks leading up to the holiday season we have noticed two distinct and very much related patterns.
The first is that people who are otherwise regular and routine with their care tend to miss visits as their schedule and stress levels become more chaotic. There is nothing like the holidays to shake up our healthy routines.
The second pattern we tend to see are lots of people with acute crises of back pain, headaches, illnesses and other secondary conditions that sometimes require some intense care in our office to ensure they don’t spend Christmas on their backs.
These trends are certainly not only seen in our office. When people have more to do, more things to spend money on and extra stress, they also tend to eat less healthy food, exercise less, and stay up later at night – neglecting the things that keep them healthy during the rest of the year.
When you add these factors to the fact that many people experience their greatest levels of stress during the holiday season (ain’t family wonderful?) it is no surprise that it is common for people to spend what should be the most wonderful time of the year sick, in pain and unable to enjoy themselves or their families.
The fact of the matter is that it is very easy to become overwhelmed this time of year. I also know that by approaching your health correctly during the holidays will allow you to both have fun (this is very important) and stay healthy. I actually believe that the change of routine, having more time off of work, spending time with loved ones and YES, even indulging in some treats provides an opportunity to boost your health if you do it right!
The first step to a healthy holiday is to acknowledge that you are going to indulge a bit. If you wait all year to eat some of grandma’s famous cookies go ahead and enjoy them. When we make things a ‘treat’ we don’t stress about our indulgence and it actually prevents us from completely going full gluttonous. In addition when we really ‘treat’ ourselves it becomes much easier to get back to our routine when the holidays come to an end.
The second step is the most important and is really quite easy – yet is most often missed. While we treat ourselves to some not so healthy things, it is essential that we continue to do the healthy stuff, too. We need to make sure we get lots of veggies and clean meats while in addition to plum pudding. Meditate and get regular exercise while staying out late. Take our vitamins especially while dealing with our in laws!
As I have applied this over the years I have found a formula to actually improve my health over the holidays even though I love to indulge as much as the next person. I use the extra time off from work to exercise a bit more and meditate regularly. In spite of changing schedules I try to see my chiropractor even more often leading up to and during the holidays. I also increase my supplementation with fish oil, probiotics and vitamin D where appropriate to counteract the increased stresses faced at this time of year.
My wish for you all this holiday is to be able to fully celebrate and participate in whatever way makes you happy, NOT sick, in pain and frustrated. A little time and effort spent doing the good things will allow you to enjoy what we don’t typically enjoy the other 11 months of the year. There is nothing I would love to see more than a reversal of that pattern I have seen over the past 14 years. It is up to you.