More Cheer, Less Fear

December has typically correlated with an increase in stress coupled with a decrease in self care. Current reports show 67% of Americans are stressed due to COVID-19. During holidays, it is estimated 69% of Americans exhibit holiday stress due to lack of time and financial resources. 

It can be safe to say that ourselves or others we know are STRESSED. Acknowledging this stress and planning ahead can be instrumental in maintaining our emotional and physical health.

I am grateful to have opportunities to learn ideas and strategies, and I am here to impart some helpful tips to bring more cheer than fear as we enter this holiday season.
1. PLAN AHEAD: Sounds simple but it requires time. Here are some points to consider.
  • Sleep - A good night's sleep is important for hormonal management, immune function, brain clarity and energy. Ideal sleep schedule is between 10pm-6am. You want to consider a sleep hygiene program. This can include dimming the lights at least an hour and avoiding blue light like computer and phone screens. Keeping the same schedule even on weekends is also helpful. Note: you cannot make up sleep.

  • Meals - Prep ahead, buy prepared meals, have healthy snacks available. I typically allow for 2 hours of cutting veggies, lining up containers for my shake mixes, dispersing my vitamins into containers, and putting snack containers together for the week. Note that there are weeks where life is busy and/or time is limited, take advantage of prepped meals and/or meal delivery.

  • Work Schedule - Looking ahead at meetings, patient care and evaluations, as well as outstanding projects are all considerations. It is common to underestimate how long a project will take, as well as procrastinate and forget life is known to throw multiple curve balls.

  • Self Care - Plan your exercise, relaxation, meditation, journaling, etc. into your week. Avoid placing time restrictions on yourself. In other words, if you only have 5 minutes, make the most of those 5 minutes. All too often, time is wasted thinking of how little time one has rather than harnessing the opportunity of 5 minutes. See below for more ideas.
  • Look Ahead at your week and put yourself on your calendar. Studies have shown early morning exercisers tend to be more consistent. With that said, if evening times are best for you, then make sure your day is not too mentally exhausting where it sabotages your workout.

  • Be Efficient. Combination moves can help with not only time efficiency but also caloric burn, which is helpful to combat those extra treats. 😊 A quick easy workout:

  • Squat with or without band around knees, pulling forearms out to the sides

  • Push Ups - wall or floor

  • Bridging with or without band around knees, pulling arms out to the sides
  • Be Flexible. Stretching helps improve or maintain range of motion, posture, and muscular length. However, it is often left out the day. Taking the pressure off by trying to incorporate a 20 minute session and pick 3 exercises and incorporate them into your day. For example: Hold each pose for 3-5 deep slow breaths (a great way to infuse in diaphragmatic breathing) and repeat 1-3 times per session for 1-3 sessions a day.

  • Standing - see Milan's eblast from last month for a great full stretch in a lunge.

  • Sitting - Can you sit tall and lean forward reaching between your legs and feel the stretch about your low back. Sit and lean forward placing your elbows on the insides of your knees and push gently out as you lengthen your spine, stretching your inner thighs. Sit tall and lengthen out one leg and lean a little forward feeling the stretch in the back of the leg. Add a variation of turning your toes in and then out. See below for more 2020 stretches that not only stretch but also calm yet invigorate the mind.

  • Lying down - Lie on your back knees bent and drop your knees side to side. With one or both legs, bring your knees into your chest and grasp the inside of your foot and pull your knees down toward the armpit. (Happy Baby pose).
  • Be Big. In Amy Cuddy's book and podcast, she talks of the benefits of changing one's posture to be "bigger" as this can decrease anxiety, improve confidence, and energize oneself. Appreciating this, the below movements can be done 3-5 times per session for 1-5 sessions a day.

  • Seated reaching to the floor, scoop up reaching for the sky out to the side and then to the thighs.

  • Seated trunk rotation

  • With and without a lunge

  • Leaning forward with hand on forehead, hand on low back, reaching arm up and out.

  • Standing hands on hips legs wide ("Wonder Woman"/ power posing) and standing reaching arms up and out to the side (Star).
Remember, having a buddy helps with accountability. For myself, an app has helped immensely stay motivated. If you find yourself needing some assistance with any of the above, please do not hesitate to reach out to myself or your therapist.

Lastly, gratitude has been shown to assist with decreasing stress. I am so very grateful to all of the CTS staff and clientele. May you be good to you!

Happy Holidays from all of us at CTS!

Thank you for trusting us with your health in 2020. What a year it's been!
We wish you a happy and healthy holiday season and look forward to our continued partnership in the new year. The best is yet to come.

CTS will be closed on Christmas Day 12/25 and New Year's Day 1/1.
Combat Holiday Stress with this Exercise Series

This quick and easy series will get your body moving and your heart pumping. Crank up the holiday tunes and melt the stress away. Get after it!
SQUATS - with resistance bands!
Spice up your standard squat practice with resistance bands.

Place a band around your knees and hold another in your hands, pulling your forearms out to the sides as you squat down.

Choose resistance bands that are tight enough to challenge you, and make sure each movement is slow and controlled. Keep your core tight, and don't forget to breathe!
PUSH UPS - knees up/down, varying arm positions
Start with your knees on the ground and your hands placed directly underneath your shoulders. Lift your knees off the ground for an extra challenge.
Place your hands on the floor wider than your shoulders to target your chest muscles in lieu of your triceps.
BRIDGING - with/without band around knees,
and pulling arms out to the side
For added resistance, place a band around your knees and/or in your hands, pulling your arms to the sides.
Adductor stretches target the group of muscles on the inside of the thigh, including the groin. Strengthening and stretching this muscle group helps improve athletic performance and prevent injury.
Lean a little forward for more of a stretch. Toes can be up to the sky, turned in or turned out.
Changing your posture to be "bigger" can decrease anxiety, improve confidence, and energize yourself.
An easy way to stretch out your back, you can do this one from your desk!
Amy Cuddy's study suggests that those who adopted high-power poses demonstrated an increase in testosterone and a decrease in cortisol.
LYING DOWN TRUNK ROTATION - try placing a pillow between your legs to keep your feet stacked!
This exercise improves core strength, stability, flexibility, and greater mobility of the spine.

Watch this video for a Hook Lying Trunk Rotation with Varied Arm Position, demonstrated by owner and PT Cindy Furey.
HAPPY BABY POSE - with both legs or single leg
This pose opens the hips, inner thighs, and groin, stretches the hamstrings, relieves lower back pain and soothes the spine. / (858) 457-8419 / Open Monday-Friday 7am-7pm