The holiday season is often an exciting and joyous time for most people. But if you suffer from chronic pain, that excitement may turn to dread as you wonder how you will be able to handle everything. Getting together with family and friends is great, but all the events and obligations can make the season exhausting – and painful. But do not fret! There are ways to help manage pain during as you celebrate.
As we prepare to kick off the 2021 holiday season with Thanksgiving, here are five tips to help keep the pain at bay.
1. Make a list of your priorities
Before the holidays approach, think about what you really enjoy about this time of year. Make a list of your usual activities and traditions. If one of them has become more of a chore than a celebration, simply take it off your list.
If you are suffering from chronic pain, you may want to consider skipping any holiday plans that require a lot of standing, bending, or lifting. If you love to cook a big family meal, for instance, try to enlist the help of a friend or family member. This will help ensure you aren’t bending over a hot oven and carrying heavy trays and platters by yourself all day.
It’s easy to get stuck on the idea that you have to hit every mark, every year. But that’s just not the case. It’s ok to let a few things go so you can focus on the things that matter the most.
2. Let others help
“If there’s anything I can do, let me know!” We have all heard this before. And most of us have probably also been a little too polite for our own good and replied with, “oh thanks, but I’ve got this.” But if you have chronic pain, you should absolutely be taking people up on this offer whenever you can.
Whether it’s shoveling the sidewalk, picking up the ingredients for a pumpkin pie, or bringing in the Christmas tree, don’t be afraid to lean on the people you’re close to. Make a detailed list of your holiday duties that could add to your pain – and leave yourself off the list. See if there is a family member or friend that could help you out with the more difficult tasks. They love you and they don’t mind.
Setting priorities and doing less can be difficult, especially if you’re someone who usually takes care of everyone else. By planning ahead and delegating duties, you are making a very important commitment to your health and well-being. Your body will thank you!
3. Keep moving
Yes, you should probably avoid any heavy lifting over the holidays (like pulling a metal pan holding a 20-pound turkey out of the oven for instance). But that doesn’t mean you should shun physical activity altogether. That could actually make things worse, believe it or not.
Stretches and gentle aerobic exercises, such as light yoga or walking, can actually help reduce your pain. Exercise causes your body to produce extra endorphins, which are a natural pain reliever.
Exercise can also help counteract depression, which is a common partner to chronic pain. Swimming or doing water exercises in a warm pool can be a soothing health break from the holiday rush.
4. Get it delivered
This one may seem almost taboo, but if you have chronic pain, you will probably be doing yourself a favor if you avoid preparing a large meal altogether. While making a big home cooked meal is a common holiday tradition, it is also one of the most strenuous and stressful things you can do. So why not try something new?
Many of your favorite local restaurants and retailers offer delivery services, especially now with programs like Grubhub and DoorDash. Call your favorite restaurant or grocery store or check on its website to learn about delivery options. Some places offer economical group dinner packages that can be very affordable.
Avoiding the bending, lifting, and twisting involved in shopping and cooking for a large group is probably worth the cost of the meal.
5. Travel Pain Free
Perhaps more than anything else, the holidays are about being with the people you care about. This means traveling will be unavoidable for many. But traveling, whether by plane, train, or automobile, can aggravate your chronic pain.
Make sure to consider your pain while scheduling your travel itinerary. Try to book a direct flight whenever possible. The less time spent cramped in a plane and walking around a busy concourse the better. Bring a back support cushion, back roll, or even a couple of pillows to support your back. This can help keep your body better adjusted and reduce your pain.
Make sure you pack light. A heavy bag can be more than just an inconvenience; it can cause or aggravate back pain by straining muscles and joints. To avoid unnecessary strain, it’s best to use a light suitcase with wheels and a handle for rolling. Instead of stuffing one large suitcase full, it’s often better to use a few smaller bags. After all, large suitcases cost money to check on flights. But if you can fit everything you need in a couple smaller carry-on items, you can lower the chances of pain flare ups while saving some money!
Ask the Professionals
Still have questions? Don’t hesitate to contact your provider at Twin Cities Pain Clinic for information and resources that align with your particular diagnosis or pain situation. Be thorough in your travel plans to ensure we can best meet your needs. You may call us at (952) 841-2345.
From the Twin Cities Pain Clinic family to yours, we wish you safe travels and a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday with your loved ones.