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Tips for dealing with holiday stress and travel
The holiday season is here and is in full effect. For as much fun as the holiday season is, it oftentimes means extra stress and traveling for a lot of people. Here are some tips to help manage all the craziness that this season can bring.
One of the biggest stressors of the holiday season, both physically and mentally, is travel. No matter the method (car, plane, train, etc), traveling often puts us in a seated position for prolonged periods of time. This takes a toll on the whole body, but most affected are the low back and hips.
While traveling, and for overall health, make sure that you are drinking enough water. If you are flying, aim to drink 8 ounces of water for every hour you are in the air. In general, try to drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water per pound of body weight. For example, a 200 lb individual should drink between 100 and 200 ounces of water. An easy way to achieve this number is to start your morning with 1-2 cups of water.
For the lower back, sitting can take the lumbar spine out of a neutral position and put it into a flexed position. This is not ideal, especially if it is for long periods of time. One of the best ways to combat this is to use a McKenzie Lumbar Roll or a rolled up towel. The lumbar roll is placed on the seat back at the height of the low back, which places the back into a more neutral position. This will alleviate both pain that is felt in the back, and can also help with any sciatica type symptoms that one might experience with prolonged sitting.
Another major stressor during this time is having so much to do with so little time. This can cause multiple stress responses throughout the body, below are a few ways to combat those.
Exercise and activity! Try to find 30 minutes per day to be active. This can be anything from going to the gym, taking a group fitness class, going for a walk, or playing with your kids. There are a lot of easy ways to stay active, the 30 minutes does not have to be consecutive, just make that a daily goal and get it in where you can. Another thing to keep in mind is that most gyms do a free trial, especially around the holidays, it might be a good time to try something new to break up old routines.
Sleep, make sure that you are getting enough! It is recommended that you get at least 7 hours, and ideally somewhere between 7-9 hours. If you are traveling to a different time zone, consider taking melatonin. Your body gets used to releasing melatonin to aid in sleep at a certain time every day, if the time zone has changed this will throw off your body’s natural rhythm.
It also helps to have a routine to get into before going to bed. Meditation is a great practice to get into before bed to help relax the body and prepare for sleep. There are a lot of free/inexpensive apps available that have excellent guided meditations, some even guided towards sleep. I recommend trying the Calm app or Synctuition.
If pain, stiffness, or soreness is disrupting your sleep try having a pre-sleep movement routine. It is recommended to have movements that combat what you have done to your body throughout the day. For example, if you have spent most of the day in a seated position (i.e. flexed spine) it is best to do the opposite motions. I like to incorporate some breathing exercises, cobra press ups (spinal extension), and some cat/cows for full spine range of motion.
It also helps to have a list of exercises that you can pull from if you are dealing with discomfort. Neck, shoulders, lower back, and hips tend to be the most common areas affected by stress and travel. Below is a list of exercises based on body region that you can do to help with any tightness, tension, or pain.
Neck and Shoulders
As always, if you have any questions at all, please reach out so we can get those answered for you.