Be flexible, cut stress this holiday season

Be Well

“Honey, what’s wrong, you seem out of sorts . . .” he said.

“Nothing is wrong, dear, it’s just that it’s Christmas,” she replied.

Although I usually include a quote of a famous person to introduce my topic, this time I have decided to include the above anonymously – and I venture to say that these words are being spoken in more households than my own . . . uh oh, gave myself away!

Although I have introduced this topic in a lighthearted manner, it does seem that women incur most of the stress that happens around this most joyous time of year. Decorating? Check. Baking? Check. Shopping? Check. Gift wrapping? Check. Social calendar? Check. Christmas card list? Check. I think you know where I am going with this! (Men, I don’t mean to neglect you here, but . . .)

Seriously, I do enjoy this time of year, added duties and all. However, it is true that we often put ourselves through some unrealistic expectations which can bring on holiday stress. My most recent articles have addressed holiday indulgences of food and drink with some alternative suggestions to make more reasonable decisions and modifications. A diet which is higher in sugar, fat, caffeine and alcohol can rob us of the energy, flexibility and strength we need to get through this hectic time. Focus on whole grains, fruits such as figs and apples, substitute that third cup of coffee with green tea and include good protein sources such as fish and nuts.

As we prepare our homes to celebrate the Christmas season, we find ourselves on ladders climbing up and down to retrieve holiday decorations; on hands and knees searching for boxes and containers in back of closets; reaching up to the nether-regions of our pantries for items needed to cook and bake our goodies; shopping and wrapping gifts. The results of those activities, if we are not properly stretched and flexed, can be debilitating at a time when we need our energy resources. Make sure you go for that daily walk, that you stretch when you awaken, that you get those hand weights out and put them to good use, or put your fitness facility membership to work for you . . . your body and your stress level will thank you! Additionally, it is well-known that the release of endorphins by virtue of physical activity will benefit your emotional health. Definitely a win-win!

In particular, I suggest that you focus on your stretching and flexibility. As mentioned in a previous column, one thing that all athletes have in common regarding their training regimens – they all begin with stretching and flexibility work. So begin your day, no matter your schedule or other activities, with a stretching routine. This will allow you to warm your muscles and prepare your muscle groups for lifting, reaching and moving. While stretching, use that time to focus on being positive, peaceful and calm.

On a completely different topic but one near and dear to my heart . . . if you are considering a new pet please adopt a rescue; a special friend may be waiting for you right now. May you and yours experience a healthy, happy and peaceful Christmas season.

Sharon McMahon, CNWC

The opinions expressed in this article are not intended to replace advice of your personal physician or licensed health professional. Please consult your physician for any issues you may have related to nutrition or fitness activity.