Our bodies are designed to stay healthy. But holiday stress can wreak havoc on our nervous system, leaving us tired and worn down. Each year, millions of people get sick before, during, or after the holidays. And the most common culprit is stress. When your body is stressed, it doesn’t recover very well. Not only could you experience more aches and pains, but you may also experience mental fatigue.
Our body’s response to stress
When people experience anger, grief, fear, or other forms of emotional stress, their muscles tighten, the spine stiffens, and postural changes can emerge.1 This tension in the muscles can lead to subluxations and sometimes even chemical imbalance. All of this leads to headaches and backaches, and the source of most of it is stress.2
The holidays can put you into fight or flight mode for over a month!
Well, don’t worry, if you are beginning to experience holiday stress. Our office is the right place to be. New research has showcased that aside from eating well and getting enough sleep, chiropractic adjustments can reduce stress and muscle tension, helping you feel better going into the new year.
Getting adjusted has many benefits, and one of them can be an increase in mood-improving chemicals in the brain. We know adjustments work on the nervous system, and spinal misalignments can put pressure on parts of the brain responsible for neurological and chemical function.3 As the nervous system shifts after an adjustment, studies have shown that patients report positive mental and emotional changes and said they were able to manage stress and enjoy life more for a period of several months following a treatment plan.4
The holidays are full of all kinds of physical stressors such as bending to pull the roast out of the oven, lifting heavy packages or reaching around the Christmas tree to string those pesky lights. Coming in for regular chiropractic check-ups increases your body’s ability to cope with stress by keeping your nervous system healthy.2
You can stay happy and healthy this holiday season by using a few simple holiday stress busters. And while you can’t eliminate every source of stress in your life, you can make a few smart decisions to decrease stress and reduce your chance of getting sick.
For many of us, travel is a part of our yearly holiday tradition. Whatever your mode of travel, get up and stretch and move around frequently to activate your core body muscles and lubricate your joints. Movement stimulates blood flow which carries waste products away from the area while allowing important nutrients and oxygen to move into the back, helping prevent soft tissues from stiffening and aching after sitting for a long time.
“The long, still stretches of time during travel is actually more dangerous than a sedentary lifestyle” adds Dr. Loomis. “If you remain in one position for a long time, certain movements after the fact can be immediately damaging – such as lifting a heavy piece of luggage or just twisting the wrong way. This can actually be more dangerous than a sedentary lifestyle.”
No train, plane, or bus offer the ideal support for your body so consider bringing your own support along with you to minimize the impact of your travels. Lumbar support pillows help you sit up straight to avoid the pain and stress that comes with bad posture. If you don’t have one, or forget yours, a jacket, blanket or an airplane pillow can also be rolled up and placed at the inward curve of your lower back.Travel neck pillows can help avoid neck strain by providing head support while resting or sleeping in a sitting position.
As much as travel can be hard on our bodies, it’s wonderful to visit with friends and family. We want you to have the best holiday season possible. If you plan on traveling this holiday season, let us know! We would love to show you a few simple stretches and exercises that you can do to help you stay well between adjustments.
No one should have to rely on medications to get through the holiday season. If you are experiencing neck pain and shoulder tension from holiday travels, chiropractic care just may be your top choice. Researchers have found that chiropractic care can drastically reduce neck pain, improve mobility, and reduce the stress on our musculoskeletal system. That means you can feel better without having to reach for a bottle of pills.
Diet is whole other stressor during the holiday season. While fruitcakes, sugar cookies, pumpkin lattes, and apple pie are the four food groups this time of year; they are also a recipe for inflammation, fatigue, and maybe even a few extra pounds around the waistline. Consuming sugar increases the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.5 High levels of cortisol are associated with increased anxiety, weight gain, low mood and poor sleep, all of which are factors currently affecting the younger generation.
In fact, a few smart choices can help you have a much healthier and happier holiday. By drinking a full glass of water at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you start to reduce inflammation and begin to feel better! Also, during your hectic schedule don’t forget about that little thing called sleep. Sleeping is when our bodies go into rest and recovery mode. With all the stress of the holidays, it’s a good idea to stay as close as possible to your regular sleep schedule, which means no 4 a.m. Black Friday shopping! And finally, research has shown chiropractic adjustments can reduce the stress on both our body and mind; helping you feel better with less muscle tension. Now that’s a smart healthcare decision.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you conquer the holiday season:
- Drastic changes to your habits won’t stick! Start feeling better by simply reducing the sweets in your diet, starting some light exercise, and getting adjusted.
- Research shows chiropractic care can reduce stress, improve mobility, and reduce pain. Not a bad combination!
- When traveling, get up and stretch or walk around often to avoid injury from moving muscles that have stiffened during the trip. Also, take your own lumbar support pillow with you.
- Stick to your normal schedule and be sure to get enough sleep
- Staying well-hydrated, getting daily exercise, and periodic chiropractic care can help you feel your best.
- Keep essential oils on hand to combat stress. We recommend Young Living’s lavender essential oil, Stress Away blend and Peace and Calming blend for amazing therapeutic stress relief all season long!
The holidays are a great time to show someone you care. We love highlighting research that matters to you and your loved ones. If you know someone who gets sick every year around the holidays, the chances are that it’s a result of too much stress! We encourage you to share this blog, show them you care, and keep them happy and healthy this holiday season.
- Chiropatient. (n.d.) What is a Subluxation?. Retrieved From http://www.chiropatient.com/vertebral-subluxation/
- The American Institute of Stress. (n.d.) What is Stress?. The Psychiatric Clinics. Retrieved From https://www.stress.org/daily-life
- Barhum, L. (2017, April 6). How Chiropractic Care Can Lessen Depression. Retrieved from https://depression.newlifeoutlook.com/depression-neck-pain/
- Roth, L., Zelman, D., Clum, L., & Roth, J. (2019, June 20) Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research (Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care as a Complementary Strategy for Depression and Anxiety: A Prospective Case Series Analysis) Retrieved From https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/e7ab/7f151c6bed976edf839fe3f08c58ebe1b253.pdf
- Drake, H. (2018, November 12). Sugar Intake in Children - More Than Just a Weight Issue. Retrieved From https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/sugar-intake-in-children-more-than-just-a-weight-issue/48472/
- Hewagalamulage, S.D., Lee, T.K., Clarke, I. J., & Henry, B.A. (2016, July) Stress, cortisol, and obesity: a role for cortisol responsiveness in identifying individuals prone to obesity. Domestic Animal Endocrinology. (vol 56). Retrieved From https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0739724016300340?via%3Dihub
- Ogura, T., Tashiro, M., Masud, M., Watanuki, S., Shibuya, S., Yamaguchi, K., Itoh, M., Fukuda, H., & Yanai, K. (2011, November) Cerebral metabolic changes in men after chiropractic spinal manipulation for neck pain. Alternative therapies in health and medicine. 17(6). Retrieved From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22314714
- Inami, A., Ogura, T., Watanuki, S., et al. (2017, January) Glucose Metabolic Changes in the Brain and Muscles of Patients with Nonspecific Neck Pain Treated by Spinal Manipulation Therapy. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Retrieved From https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/4345703.