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10 ways to stay healthy over the Christmas break

The Christmas and New Year period can be lots of fun (eating, drinking and being merry!), but also a stressful time.

Stresses come in many forms, but the main categories are physical, chemical and emotional.

As the holiday season approaches, it’s time to get on the front foot and plan to minimise the stress loads on your body and mind, while still having a good time.

Every day, as chiropractors at Canberra Spine Centre, we see people with bodies breaking down as a result of too much stress.

When your body experiences more stress than it can handle, this overwhelms its ability to compensate.

Your nervous system, and the spine that protects it will often be the first casualty, with altered nerve transmission, movement, stiffness and pain resulting.

If you continue living a life where your load up your body with more stress than it can handle, you’ll need more visits to your chiropractor.

Less stress, less need for our services and much better health, function and feeling!
In this article, we’ll cover 7 ways to keep healthy while having fun this Christmas!

Mindfulness with your eating

Loading up with food and drink can be part of the fun of Christmas and New Year, but also can cause physical and chemical stress to your body.

Here are the first fours tips, relating to food and chemical stress:

#1. Prepare before you go

If you are going to a social event that features food, be sure to eat a healthy meal ahead of time to prevent overeating when you get there.

#2. Fill up on fibre

At the event, fill up on foods high in fibre, such as leafy greens, sprouts, beans, squash, etc, as well as lean proteins.

Avoid lots of potatoes, rice and bread with your main meal – these break down quickly into sugars, causing stress for your pancreas, liver, and lead to weight gain.

Foods higher in fibre and protein will not break down quickly (in the case of protein, not at all) into sugars, instead releasing energy more slowly.

#3. Savour it

Don’t worry – you don’t have to miss out on all the yummy food. Just try smaller portions, and eat SLOWLY.

When you take the time to really savour and enjoy your food, your stomach will have the time to send those ‘I’m full’ messages to your brain, and you won’t feel like stuffing yourself!

#4. Drink lots of water

Sometimes we feel hungry or fatigued when what we really need is to be hydrated. Water will energise you as well as make you feel a little more full.

Water is also a much healthier alternative than soft drinks or alcoholic drinks. If you really enjoy a glass or two of wine or beer, alternate each glass with a glass of water. You’ll feel so much better for it!

Take a load off your body

Often, we run around madly at this time, getting things done, shopped, cleaned, cooked, etc. Here are some tips to reduce the load on your body:

#5. Go lighter

Walking around crowded shopping malls, then sitting in the car for ages trying to get out of the car park, before lugging presents out of the boot can be a challenge for anyone with back pain.

Make it easier on yourself and consider gift cards or online shopping for presents. You can avoid the queues, lifting and extra stress that often accompanies the hunt for Christmas presents.

#6. Get some help

Enlist some help for those big jobs. Don’t decorate, lug all the shopping, clean up the garden or the hours all by yourself. Enlist a family member or friend to help.

When decorating, one person can hand lights and ornaments to the other person to put on the tree. It’s more fun when you work together, and take away a lot of the stress that can be placed on your spine when you are stretching or lifting awkwardly.

#7. Focus on Posture

There really is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ posture. Mostly, this is because we are made to move.

Even with a great sitting or standing posture, staying there for hours in the same place will cause stress and strain on your spine and result in nervous system interference.

So if you’re travelling, whether by car, bus, train or plane, get out (well, out of your seat if you in a plane!) and have a walk and a stretch periodically, to change the loads on your spine.

At that Christmas lunch and dinner, don’t sit on your butt all day. Get up and play some games with the youngsters, or at the least, get up and go for a walk or help out in the kitchen.

Moving will help alter loads, as well has help you digest the feast!

Ease the Mind

#8. Get enough sleep

When you’ve got so much on, it’s tempting to cut short your sleep to fit it all in. But humans need around 8 hours of sleep every day. Sleep deprivation is very unhealthy to your body and mental state.

It creates a stress response in your body, reducing the effectiveness of your immune system and altering your metabolism, among many other physiological changes.

Getting enough sleep will make resisting unhealthy temptations and maintaining your workout routine and diet easier.

The last thing you need is to try to resist that double chocolate fudge brownie on only 3 or 4 hours of sleep.

Getting proper sleep and being in a physiologically rested state tends to ease your mind and prevent the anxiety and depression that can accompany busy and stressful periods.

#9. Think ahead

As you plan for the coming year, consider easy ways to improve your spine and nervous system function.

This can be as simple as adding a 5 to 15 minute walking break to your day, signing up for a yoga class, or finally replacing your old mattress.

Caring for your body, and having this as part of your weekly routine, creates a healthy mind as well as a healthy body.

Get some help with your health

#10. Remember your chiropractic care!

It’s tempting to skip some parts of your routine during busy periods, but that’s a bit like skipping aeroplane maintenance before flying (hey, what’s the worst thing that can happen?!).

Having a spine and nervous system that operates at its best will help you function properly and adapt to the stresses of daily life.

Keep yourself in tune rather than fixing stuff when it’s broken, and you’ll be able to participate more fully in the holidays and the year ahead.

Have fun and stay safe during the Christmas and holiday season. If you feel like your body is breaking down and you are not in tune, please call us on (02) 6257 9400.

If you would like some more information about the spine and nervous system and how it relates to your health, please check out the other articles on our Facebook page or go to our website:

Also, make sure you read the other interesting articles we post on staying healthy this month.