Winter, especially around the holidays, can feel like a slippery slope of commitments, obligations, weather challenges, and barely staying upright (emotionally and physically!). But despite the chaos, there are little things you can do to maintain—or regain—control and spring into spring with a spring in your step! And don’t worry, if you do wipe out, a session with Dr. Henderson at Family & Sports Chiropractic Clinic should get you moving again pain-free.
Exercising to Prevent Falls
Careful attention can prevent most falls but when we’re rushing, our pets and kids are wound up by the weather, or ice pops up overnight, keeping your feet can be a challenge. Johns Hopkins Medicine explains that “each year, more than 25 percent of adults 65 or older have a fall, and 3 million are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries.”
They show that many falls are due to balance and mobility issues, the medications we take, low blood pressure or pressure that drops upon standing, and footwear issues. You can’t always forgo medicine or sleep in orthopedic sneakers, so here are a few exercises which might help prevent falls this winter.
A physical therapist at Johns Hopkins suggests two simple techniques which can build balance and strength. But if you do fall, make sure to let your primary care doctor know so potential causes can be investigated.
Sit-to-stand: Using a sturdy chair (with a table or countertop nearby in case you stumble), rise from the chair into a stable standing position without using your hands to push yourself up. Perform 10 reps, twice a day, adding hand weights for resistance. The idea is to strengthen your core and improve balance.
Balance exercise: Step one, start by standing with feet shoulder width apart for 10 to 30 seconds without swaying or reaching for support. Then do the same with your feet together. Step three is to do the same balancing on one foot at a time and step four is to do all three but with your eyes closed. No peeking!
Handling the Holidays in Style
People can get overly cheerful during the holidays. Peppy music plays 24/7, twinkling lights blink nonstop, and we’re encouraged to buy presents for pretty much everyone we’ve EVER met. But doctors at the Mayo Clinic acknowledge that “When stress is at its peak, it’s hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past.”
They recommend acknowledging your conflicted or frazzled feelings, reaching out to family and friends if you feel isolated, being realistic, sticking to a budget and healthy habits, setting aside differences, planning ahead, and learning to say no. Perhaps most importantly, they remind us that it’s ok to stop and take a breather or seek professional help when life becomes overwhelming. “Don’t let the holidays become something you dread…Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal demands, so you can combat them before they lead to a meltdown. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find peace and joy during the holidays.”
Conquering Winter Doldrums
Once the holidays are past, with their party-like energy, many of us find ourselves a little S.A.D. Seasonal Affective Disorder brings sleep problems and lethargy, depression, irritability, overeating, and feeling grumpy or antisocial, say doctors from the UK’s National Health Service. While there’s no easy fix for the cold, dark days or long soggy nights, their doctors have a few ideas to keep you going until spring finally arrives.
Keep active, especially bundled up safely warm and outside. “Being cold makes you more depressed,” they say, and “it’s also been shown that staying warm can reduce the winter blues by half.” Eat healthy and stay hydrated and spend as much time in daylight—or with a light box—as you can.
Keep distracted with a new hobby or by spending time with friends and family. Talk through your feelings with loved ones, a support group, or counselor. S.A.D. is a very real thing and there are resources available to help.
Each season brings unique joys…and unique challenges. Thankfully, there are ways to celebrate (or combat) whatever’s around the next corner. Face the new year head on and call Dr. Henderson’s office at 360.254.0400 or book an exam online to limber up, rebuild balance and mobility, or overcome limitations from accident, illness, injury, or surgery.