How to practice self-care during the holiday season

Amanda Erickson RMT

Our Western world and busy lives tell us that our productivity is a measure of our success. We are conditioned to believe we must show up, persevere, and keep going; no matter what.  

However, when we observe nature at this time of year, everything slows down. Squirrels have stashed their treasures, the birds fly south, and creatures hibernate until the warmth of spring returns.  Yet here we are running around like there’s never enough time in the day.

I have been experimenting with what it means to listen to my nervous system. I  crave the slow days and evenings at home.  Like nature, this time of year has me turning inwards. I want to curl up beside a fireplace with a pile of knitting and endless pots of tea, all while my brain says, “Go! Holidays are around the corner. Prepare! Do more!”

The looming holiday season is full of events, to-do’s, and social commitments. Often it can feel overwhelming. Tune into yourself and listen to what aligns you as you navigate times of busyness.

Here are a few tips to get started:

1.     Manage your schedule

Physically scheduling in my self-care time is a great help and a huge start to the process. Treating your body to a massage or acupuncture is a great way to turn down the heightened nervous system at this time of year, and to let that unneeded shoulder tension dissipate. Take a new yoga class, or get a session with a kinesiologist, physiotherapist, or other health professional to get the support you need.

 

2.     Get outside

 Take a walk in nature, even if it's just stepping outside your office or front door for a stroll around the block. Notice the beautiful details of nature; take it all in, and relish in the present moment.

 

3.     Slow down

Take five deep, nourishing breaths. Try this before you leave the house for work, or before you head out to tackle that list of to-do’s. Try a few minutes of meditation of savasana (corpse pose) to slow the mind.

 

4.     Cultivate gratitude

Write down five things you are grateful for in this moment. Focussing on what you’re grateful for helps give you perspective and realize all that you currently have.

 

From my experience, when we tune into self we can use our time more efficiently. The above options have proven to me that when we prioritize turning towards alignment of heart, mind, and body, the to-do list becomes checked off, and the time to accomplish it is all there.  Taking just a few extra moments to turn inwards with ourselves gives us more time in return.

6 ways to stay active in the winter

I’ll be the first to admit that keeping up with an exercise routine is more difficult when the days get shorter and the temperature gets cooler. However, I also know that staying active is vital for both my physical health and mental well-being, and this keeps me motivated to prioritize exercise in my weekly schedule. Think of it this way - we don’t always want to brush our teeth, but we do it every day because we know its good for our health and we always feel better afterwards. The same goes for exercise.

So, how exactly do we prioritize exercise in our weekly schedule, especially as winter approaches? Here are a few tips to help keep you motivated:

Alex Piller Kinesiology Blog
  1. Find a type of exercise you enjoy

    Exercise is a form of self-care and should be fun! If you enjoy an activity, it increase the likelihood that you will actually do it. Sometimes, though, the activities we enjoy in the summer aren’t as much fun in the winter. For example, I am a “fair weather cyclist,” so instead of cycling outdoors in the winter I attend an indoor spin class. If you’re someone who enjoys going for daily walks, maybe try going during your lunch break while the sun is still up instead of waiting until after work. Sometimes trying another form of your favourite exercise or tweaking your schedule is all you need to do to keep yourself motivated.

  2. Schedule it in!

    When you’re planning your weekly schedule, purposefully set aside time for physical activity. It’s even better if you can write it in your calendar or sign up for fitness classes ahead of time. Planning ahead will help you commit.


  3. Surround yourself with people who motivate you

    This may mean finding a workout partner, or attending an instructor-led class. Typically, the hardest part about getting active is physically getting to the gym (or putting your walking shoes on). If you can commit to meeting a friend or signing up for a class, you’re more likely to actually go.


  4. Get a support network

    Sometimes watching someone exercise is all the motivation we need to get off the couch. Try following social media accounts or YouTube channels of your favourite athletes, exercise specialists, health and fitness magazines, or local gyms for regular inspirational content on your feed (Disclaimer: choose accounts that help to motivate you, not those that cause you to compare yourself to others or leave you with negative thoughts about yourself).


  5. Consider the time of day you schedule your workouts

    If you’re anything like me and plan to wake up early to workout, only to turn off the alarm and go back to sleep, chances are you’re going to bail more often than not. Instead of trying to workout early in the morning, I go straight to the gym after work. This works best for me because if I go home first, I may get too comfortable (or hungry) and decide to stay put. On the contrary, I know lots of “morning people” who prefer to start their day with a workout, and that way they don’t have to worry about their day getting away from them and not being able to fit it in.


  6. Set goals

    The more specific, the better. For example, “exercise more” is vague and open to interpretation, but “exercise three times per week for 60 minutes” is clear and concise. You may have goals around committing to regular weekly activity, or they may be more personal (e.g. lose 10 lbs before Mexico vacation, increase 1 rep max back squat by 20 lbs, run 10 km in under 50 minutes) - what matters is that they’re meaningful to you.

-By Alex Piller

What do chiropractors do?

“What do Chiropractors do and how can they help me?” - I answer this question on a regular basis. A common misassumption is that chiropractic care and spinal manipulation therapy (SMT) are the same thing. SMT, commonly known as spinal adjustments or ‘back cracking,’ is the tool us chiropractors are best known for, but this is not the only tool we use.

Dr. Ben Stebbins Chiropractor

So what tools do chiropractors use?

Chiropractors are medical professionals who use manual skills and techniques to treat musculoskeletal and spinal conditions.

The Harvard Medical Journal briefly explains some of the other tools chiropractors use to treat patients:

In addition to spinal manipulation, a chiropractor may educate you about changing your biomechanics, rehabilitation and suggest other treatments and techniques. The ultimate goal of chiropractic is to help relieve pain and help patients better manage their condition at home.

Helping patients better manage their condition at home is one of the most important pieces to the therapeutic puzzle.  Initially finding a good exercise, movement modification or habit to start incorporating at home or in the office is imperative to continue the progress that was made during your chiropractic visit. Patients deserve a well-rounded approach to care that they are actively involved and informed in.

Active and passive treatment

Every person who walks through my door has a unique experience with their pain or dysfunction, therefore they require an individualized approach to their care.   Treating patients in this way requires me to have a variety of treatment techniques at my disposal.  These techniques can be separated into two categories: active and passive. 

I use passive treatments to help relax patients and decrease painful symptoms. They’re called passive because the patient doesn’t have to actively participate. These are things like spinal manipulation, deep tissue massage and joint mobilization.  Passive care can be a very important initially to help decrease pain and relax the body, but this is only a stepping stone to get to the active component of care where we can make more lasting and meaningful changes.

Active treatment requires the patient to be involved.  I always use movement with my treatments, even with those that are traditionally passive; soft tissue therapy, cupping, and Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue therapy (IASTM). 

Why do I need to move through my treatment?

Movement helps create meaning and confidence in the treatment.  I want to get my patients back to doing the things they want to do quickly with more strength than before. There is no better way to do this than to empower them that they can move without pain.  Getting my patients actively involved in their treatment allows them to get off the table and back to being active.

I believe in educating my patients how to move better, stronger and without pain.  Everyone who walks through my door is different; they all have different experiences, expectations and requirements to help them get better.  Knowing this, I have built up a ‘tool box’ full of different techniques and tools to help you feel better, faster.

Dr. Ben Stebbins Chiropractor

Travelling with a concussion

Injuries don't happen at the ideal time.  A concussion can put a serious hiccup in your summer travel plans - but you don't necessarily need to cancel everything.

Over the past few months, a handful of our patients who are recovering from concussions were able to successfully travel to see their families, enjoy a vacation and embark on some fun adventures.  


Can I travel after a concussion? 

Concussion Program, Integrated Health Clinic

If you're considering traveling within a few weeks (or months) of your concussion injury - check with your doctor for advice. 

Some doctors will advise that you do not do long-haul travel (by plane, car, bus or train) within the first few days or weeks after injury.  It's not that these forms of travel are dangerous - but they can definitely make your symptoms feel worse. 

There's no evidence to say that flying or traveling will cause you any harm, but managing your symptoms on a trip can be a bit more difficult.  You should consider adjusting your trip to fit with what you can tolerate.  Some examples are taking more rest, doing less walking or exercise, doing fewer outings, and generally pacing yourself.  

Getting away from your usual environment and getting some exposure to new things can help you heal.  Just make sure you take it slow.

What are the benefits of travelling after an injury?

Being stuck at home and feeling unwell is not fun.  Often, going on a trip or vacation can be a very healthy experience.  Getting away from your usual environment and getting some exposure to new things can help you heal.  Just make sure you take it slow.

Concussion Program, Occupational Therapy

What are some tips for travel?

Based on our clients' experiences, we've put together a helpful list of travel tips and tricks on our concussion website.

The key things are to plan ahead and ask for more help than you need.  Airlines (and other travel services) are happy to help.  You can often get special treatment through security and boarding if you let them know your situation.

If you're feeling uncomfortable asking for help, remember that it's better to disclose your situation and get help rather than be pulled aside for additional screening because you're acting weird.

If you have questions about travelling or want more help - let us know!

What are the health benefits of Golf?

Golfing Stronger to Live Longer

Golfers can live up to 5 years longer compared to non-golfers regardless of age, gender, or income level (Murray et al. 2016). Finally! A way to live healthier, happier, and longer without force feeding yourself bunches of blended kale at 6 am or sitting on a stationary bike for the recommended 150 minutes per week wondering whether you'll meet the suggested requirements of die of boredom first. Not that those are necessarily bad ideas, but I think golfing regularly may bring a little more enjoyment to your physical activity and is a more sustainable option over the long term.

Whether you are a regular golf cart user or not, golf will help prolong your life and keep you active, though you tend to find greater benefits walking the course regularly.

Golf is considered a moderate level of physical activity, which compares torace-walking, heavy gardening, and aerobic dancing...yeah, let’s keep you golfing. Whether you are a regular golf cart user or not, golf will help prolong your life and keep you active, though you tend to find greater benefits walking the course regularly.

Chiropractor, Ben Stebbins

Participating in moderate level physical activity regularly is associated with decreased risk of hip fractures, diabetes, CVD, stroke, colon cancer, depression/dementia, and breast cancer. Not only will golf add years to your life, but it will add life to your years. It is well known that golf will help maintain your social connections and additionally may help to bridge the gap between age groups. Who hasn't gotten a few tips on their game from "Mr Consistent" who doesn’t look like he could drive it past the ladies' tees yet seems to always be on the green in regulation?

Interestingly enough, watching golf can provide great health benefits as well. Sorry, not from sitting on the couch and cheering on every hole of Tiger's comeback. Spectating at golf events has been reported to provide more than the minimum requirements of physical activity in a day. So, when walking hole to hole, socializing with friends and other golf aficionados, or watching your favourite athletes play, you're able to reap the health benefits of walking enough steps to go around the world 4 times, as demonstrated by the 20,000 fans who completed that feat at the 2014 Ryder Cup.

It may seem by now that golf is a miracle elixir to a longer life, which, by many accounts may be true. Golf has been shown to let you live a longer, healthier, and happier life. But... I know there's always a but, golfers have a moderate incidence of injury when compared with other sports. The last thing you need is a nagging back or shoulder injury that keeps you off of the course and missing out on the game you love. The best thing you can do to avoid injury is to be proactive, prevent any future injuries, and fix any limitations in your swing that may currently be causing pain or discomfort. I would suggest finding someone who understands movement, golf, and its effect on the body and let them help you stay on the course golfing stronger for longer.

The best thing you can do to avoid injury is to be proactive, prevent any future injuries, and fix any limitations in your swing that may currently be causing pain or discomfort.

So, next time you're walking out the door trying to rationalize your third game of golf that week. Just remember, golf is going to let me live a longer, healthier, and happier life. You shouldn’t have a hard time winning that debate!

If you do have any questions regarding your golf game, pain, and being proactive against injury please don't hesitate to contact me at ben@talltreehealth.ca or check out www.evolvenaturalhealth.com/evolve-golf for more information.  

Dr. Ben Stebbins is also TPI Certified!

Chiropractor, Golf

References

Luscombe, J., Murray, A. D., Jenkins, E., & Archibald, D. (2017). A rapid review to identify physical activity accrued while playing golf. BMJ open, 7(11), e018993.

Murray AD, Daines L, Archibald D, et al, The relationships between golf and health: a scoping review Br J Sports Med Published Online First: 03 October 2016. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-096625

Murray, A. D., Turner, K., Archibald, D., Schiphorst, C., Griffin, S. A., Scott, H., ... & Mutrie, N. (2017). An observational study of spectators’ step counts and reasons for attending a professional golf tournament in Scotland. BMJ open sport & exercise medicine, 3(1), e000244.