It’s that magical time of year again! The holidays are upon us, and for most of us it’s time to buy or make gifts and goodies, decorate the house, and partake in gatherings with friends and family. Although these are usually meaningful events that coincide with joys of the season, for many people these can also be large stressors. Less sleep, less daylight, and more time on-the-go often means less time for oneself. Although this is often an accepted way of life this time of year, I encourage my patients to maintain taking care of themselves to ensure they are able to enjoy the season to the fullest. Setting aside just 5 to 10 minutes a day to focus on your body can make a large difference.

In my practice, I often see patients in pain related to poor posture. This is often a result of lengthy time spent sitting over the course of a day. Taking a break to get out of the chair and perform a few general postural stretches can literally help with the headaches that arrive during times of stress. Performing stretches for your chest, hip flexor and piriformis muscles can play a key role in your posturing and contribute to a decrease in overall pain. Holding stretches for 30 seconds to 2 minutes with light to medium tension will help decrease pressure on pain sensitive structures, release endorphins and lower your overall stress level.

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Another tip for reducing the impact of holiday stress is to take time to focus on breathing. When you are stressed, tune-in and feel what your breathing pattern is. Often, you will find that you are performing shallow chest breathing. The basis for most forms of relaxation and stress relieving exercise comes from tuning into the breath. In a comfortable, resting position try inhaling for 5 seconds through your nose and out for 5 seconds through the mouth. Feel the air go deep into your lungs and the air flow out as you exhale. Begin working on this with 5 to 10 breaths, and try to progress to doing it multiple times per day. You may be very surprised to not only possibly see your stress reduced but your energy levels increased!

Many studies have proven there is a direct relationship between pain, stress and emotions, so staying on top of these few basic tips can really make a difference. Of course this is recommended throughout the year too, but especially around the busyness of the holidays. It is a time of giving, so don’t forget to give to yourself! Wishing you all much health and happiness this holiday season!

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Physical Therapist at Freedom Physical Therapy Services
PT, DPT
Jereme Trunk graduated from Marquette University in 2003 with a bachelors in science in exercise science and a focus in athletic training. He graduated with a degree of Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Marquette in 2005. Jereme enjoys combining multiple facets into his practice including the John Barnes method of myofascial release, acupressure, Shiatsu, Qi Gong and yoga. He believes strongly in holistic care and patent education to empower patients to take an active role in their health and rehabilitation.