As I was driving through the parking lot today I noticed people racing through to get to the next store and get the best parking place. People were running in front of cars, cars were driving 30 mph in the parking lot, it was crazy! Traffic was backed up for a half-mile in all directions. What a pain in the neck! Everyone I saw looked terribly stressed!
You might be asking what this has to do with headaches and neck pain. We have had more than the normal amount of patients complaining of neck pain, shoulder pain, and headaches over the past few weeks. These were problems they did not have just a month or so ago. What is causing this and what should they do about it?
First of all, this is a very stressful time of year. Our schedules are packed and our margins are full. Secondly, this is the time of year that people’s sugar, fat, and overall caloric intake go up, which increases inflammation. To make things worse, exercise gets pushed off until tomorrow. And you know what they say about tomorrow… People also tend to miss their chiropractic and massage appointments which adds to the problem.
So, how do people reverse this holiday stress cycle? It’s simple to explain, harder to do, but still very doable! Let’s go through it step by step:
1) Limit the mad foods to one/day. Instead of eating a whole plate of fudge, peanut brittle, etc., eat one piece and then just walk away. You won’t even think about it after five minutes. This beats the sick feeling you have after eating a whole plate.
2) Get up! Regardless of how late the Christmas party was, or how much you ate and/or drank, get up at your normal time. Make sure you get at least 20 min. of exercise each day. Sure, it’s hard and you won’t feel like it, but it will make the rest of your day much better. It’s ONLY 20 minutes!
3) Breath… Doing #1 and #2 will already decrease the holiday stress effects on your body tremendously, but it’s still the season and you still have to deal with everyone else who didn’t get up early to exercise, ate tons of junk, and are flat out mad at the world. These are the people cutting you off, hollering obscenities, and giving you the not so friendly gestures. No matter how much exercise you did this morning and how well you’ve eaten all day, this can still raise your blood pressure and give you a headache. Best thing to do now is breath! Take a really deep breath in and hold for about ten seconds, then exhale slowly. Do this 5-10 times and you’ll feel a lot better. Trust me, I’ve done this myself today already.
4) Take care of your Master Control System. Now is the time to make sure you are getting your spine adjusted. Chiropractic adjustments are very effective at reducing headaches, neck pain, and stress. Besides that, adjustments can suppress the negative effects of stress. So many patients have sighed in relief after their adjustment the past few weeks and said, “Man I needed that today.” By by neck pain and headache!
5) Take some time to relax with a massage. Not only does massage therapy feel good, but it also reduces muscle spasms, pain, and inflammation. Let your body take a break and have some time to heal from the daily stresses.
So there you have it. Holiday stress can cause neck pain and headaches, but now you know how to reduce, or even beat, that nagging pain.