Are you protecting yourself from the health hazards of the holiday season? While the season often is marked by merriment and joy, it can also be dangerous due to its fast pace and distractions. Holiday activities like climbing ladders to string lights, maneuvering around the tree to hang ornaments, and shoveling slick snow can easily lead to fall-related injuries that have you dashing through the snow to the emergency room.
Let Clark W. Griswold deck the halls with folly this year while you practice these tips for staying safe this holiday season.
Merry and mindful. Presence is the best present you can give yourself this holiday. While mastering mindfulness takes patience, once conquered, the physical and mental-health benefits are immense. The practice forces the brain to focus on what is occurring in the moment. That helps reduce stress, anxiety, and distraction-caused injuries. Here’s how to effectively clear your mind:
Carve out 10 minutes of “you” time by finding a quiet, comfortable space. Sit down with both feet planted on the floor, your hands resting on your thighs with your palms facing up and your shoulders back. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath, inhaling for five counts. Hold that breath for two counts and then exhale for an additional five counts. Try to maintain this rhythm throughout this exercise. If five seconds is too long, tailor the count to fit your needs. The goal is to take long, deep breaths.
Notice your breath and which parts of your body are holding the most tension. Release this stress with each exhale. Visualize each breath as it goes in your nostrils, fills your lungs, and lifts your belly. Imagine each inhale represents peaceful energy, while each exhale expels negative energy from your body.
Stay in this calm space for 10 minutes. This exercise can be implemented at any point of your day to help recharge and reinvigorate your mind and muscles.
Single-leg stocking stuffers. This time of year, we tend to move at a faster pace to complete the chores on our to-do lists. A risky combination of functioning in a frenzy, weak core muscles, and a lack of joint stability can easily lead to falls. Falls can be fatal, which is why it is so important to practice balance exercises.
- Stand next to a sturdy surface like a chair or a wall.
- Take a deep breath, elongate your spine, and keep your head facing forward as you slowly elevate your right leg. Your knee should be bent at a 90-degree angle so your thigh is parallel to the floor. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Return your right leg to the ground and repeat on the opposite side. For a greater challenge, cross your arms over your chest and close your eyes while you perform the exercise.
Santa’s stability ball helper. To boost balance even more, use a stability ball, which can be found at your gym or purchased online for a small cost. Anytime we concentrate our weight on one side of our body, our core muscles work overtime to stabilize us. For this exercise, beginners should place the ball against a wall for support. Once you are comfortable and want to increase the level of difficulty, move the ball away from the wall to recruit and strengthen your core muscles.
- Sit on the ball with your feet shoulder-width apart and firmly planted on the floor. Your shoulders should be back, with your spine elongated and chest up.
- Slowly lift your right foot off the floor until your leg is fully extended. Hold for two to three breaths.
- Return your foot to the floor and repeat on the opposite side. Continue alternating sides for 10 total repetitions.
Securing your safety and well-being is a gift that never goes out of style.
Ashley B. Greenblatt is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach. To learn more, visit ashleyblakefitness.com.