Holiday self-care: five ways to soothe your frazzled body and mind

Attention all of you keyboard warriors and open-plan office occupiers, it’s almost time for the annual Christmas Holiday exodus from the workplace. The time when everyone is forced to ‘abandon desk’, even if it’s only with a sense of reluctance and for a short period of time.

Now that everything is grinding to a halt for Christmas, it’s also the perfect time to keep the lights burning bright by embracing self-care. If you use your down-time to care for your physical and mental health and to redress the balance, this will pay off in the years to come.  

Exhaustion, pain and physical injury are related 

Workplace burn-out is one of the most common conditions. It’s also termed exhaustion or over-work. According to the Australian Psychological Society’s 2014 Stress and Well-being in Australia Survey, one-quarter of Australians experienced moderate to high levels of stress in the previous 12 months. Stress was most prevalent in young Australians aged 18 to 35.

Money, career and relationship worries were all common sources of stress for younger Australians, whereas health problems were more likely to worry older people.

Burnout is defined as a state of chronic stress, leading to exhaustion, detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness. It is beyond what you may know as ‘regular tiredness’. While stress can lead to higher states of productivity, burnout is often accompanied by cynicism and lack of productivity. Those with burnout report feeling tired and bored and experience an accompanying loss of enjoyment.

Scientific studies of burnout show that when left unchecked, stress and burnout can contaminate other areas of your life. It can adversely affect how we experience musculoskeletal pain, especially in the back and neck areas. It’s also linked to a higher risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. However, it’s not all doom and gloom – there is a lot you can do.  

 

  • Look after aches and pains 

 

Studies have shown that psychosocial factors may influence how we cope with stress and can dictate how we activate our muscles. For example if we have a tension in the neck and shoulders while watching TV, this will be different from how we tense our muscles when working to a deadline at work. In the latter case, this may lead to the body’s releasing stress hormones, such as cortisol, which can increase the likelihood of an inflammatory response in the body. In combination, this can manifest itself as pain and discomfort in the body. 

Fortunately, physiotherapy including manual therapy, exercise based rehabilitation, stretching and soft tissue release techniques can really help with repetitive strain injury and stress related musculoskeletal problems. If you are needing to take some time out for self-care, Maroubra Road Physio can give you a personalised assessment of your condition, because ‘every body’,  just like every situation, is different. 

 

  • Exercise with Maroubra Road Physiotherapy 

 

Exercise has a swathe of benefits for people at every age and stage of life. It helps to strengthen and tone the body and has a broad range of protective benefits. 

That’s why Maroubra Road Physio have introduced several different classes which we run on a weekly basis to help keep people healthy, prevent illness and help to manage pain. The Balance and Conditioning Class is a dynamic balance program that is focused on strength, power, and high level balance for people who want to improve their overall function. It’s designed for all age groups and helps people to develop more control, strength and balance in their bodies. 

Another class which we have introduced recently is Strong and Supported. This is designed to help people who experience pain in the knees or hips or who have arthritis. It’s a great way to reduce pain in these areas and may also minimise the need for surgery. The class was created using the latest research into osteoarthritis. Our classes are popular, so make sure that you register quickly. 

 

  • Take back the holiday spirit 

 

There are many ways to practice self-care over the holidays and all of them require listening to your body and tuning into its needs. When you are feeling extremely stressed out and tired, you should focus on doing simple things that recharge your batteries. This might be playing with your pet, just sitting quietly and reading, hanging out in nature, listening to music or a podcast, or simply lying around and watching Netflix. 

 

  • The power of saying ‘no’

 

There will be a plethora of Christmas and new year events that will come up this month. If you’re feeling too exhausted, you should remember that you do have the power to say no. By saying no, people who care about you and respect should understand your wish to simply relax and take time out for yourself to recharge your batteries. Putting up boundaries on your time, attention and energy in order to care for yourself is fine. Doing this is perfectly OK. 

 

  • Listen for the signs 

 

Your body will tell you when you have had enough. Perhaps you will get eyes that sting and go red from tiredness. Or you could have a tendency to get a red, itchy rash when you’re stressed. What about a sudden and incredibly painful stabbing pain in the back or neck, perhaps? It’s possible that you get irritable and short-tempered with loved ones. You may find it increasingly difficult to find the energy to do the essential things in the day to day. These are all signs that you’re pushing yourself too far and you should take a step back and instead focus on self-care. You should listen to your body and how you feel. Ignoring it won’t make it go away, it needs to be addressed. 

The team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy will be happy to provide guidance on redressing the balance and bringing equilibrium back to your body. Get in touch and book an appointment with one of our experienced physiotherapists, by calling (02) 9314 3888.

 

References 

Exercise and Sports Science Australia (2019) How to avoid burn-out this holiday season 

The Conversation (2015) New Year’s Resolution: How to get your stress levels in check 

The Conversation (2015) Repetitive Strain Injury: Is it real or imagined?

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