As 2021 draws to a close, many of us will be using the Christmas break as a welcome moment to switch off and relax. However, for those wanting to get a head start and bring in more movement to their Christmas, BCA President, Catherine Quinn, shares some of her top tips for looking after your body during the Yuletide season.
- Walking in a Winter Wonderland
“Throughout the year, many of us have spent more time at home due to lockdown restrictions and remote working – half of us have been working remotely and this has led to many of us moving less each day, because we’ve lost some of our usual routines, like the commute to work. We’ve found that Brits now spend an average of 11 hours a day sat down, with 42% of Brits struggling to get outside each day. Over Christmas, the amount of time we spend sitting tends to peak, but a crisp wintery walk is my perfect antidote to festive indulgences. Your body and mind will love you for the movement, avoiding back stiffness and muscle aches from not moving enough. Getting a regular dose of vitamin D from spending time outside can also help to improve your sleep and general mental health, as well as keeping your bones, teeth and muscles healthy.”
- Shopping from Home
“If you’re doing your shopping online this year, try to be aware of the position you’re sitting in when you’re scrolling through your phone, tablet or laptop, as it could be causing you aches and pains. Using your laptop from your sofa or bed can have a knock-on effect for causing or exacerbating symptoms of back pain, as our backs aren’t in a supported position. In fact, one in four of us have experienced new symptoms of back pain since lockdown, and much of this has stemmed from working at home from makeshift desks.
“If you’re hitting the online sales, my top tip is to get creative with the space you’re using your devices in – I’ve used my kitchen counter and a chest of draws before as a DIY standing desk, which is a good break for our bodies from sitting down. Just make sure your screen is eye level. Stacking books is a good way to easily add height.”
- Silent Night
“A well-rested night’s sleep is vital for our whole body’s health. Throughout lockdown, nearly one third of people experienced poor sleep quality. Whilst it’s tempting to stay up late scrolling through social media or watching a Christmas film, a digital detox from your screen every evening can be the perfect way to relax your mind and feel ready for bed. Try and protect the hour before you go to bed as your personal wind down time. My tips include using night-mode on your phone to avoid blue light technology a few hours before sleep and turning on ‘do not disturb’ to mute your notifications until the morning. I find reading a great way to nod off, or apps like Calm or Headspace have meditations and bedtime stories designed specifically to help you drift off if you prefer to listen. The main thing is to create consistency and stick to similar timings each night, so you train your brain for your new routine.”
- No More Room at the Inn
“With students making the pilgrimage home from university for Christmas, there might be a battle for the best work spots in the house come January, before they return for the spring semester. Whether it’s for assignments, revision, or working professionally from home, I have some tips that will help.
“Since the first lockdown, one in three 18-24 year olds are experiencing new symptoms of back pain, more so than the over 55s. Again, much of this stems from how we’re working remotely, so if you have teens or students at home over Christmas that need to work or revise, but don’t have desks for everyone, rotate who uses each workspace regularly. This will help ensure you all get the best spots throughout the week. Try and encourage them to also use an area where they can work standing up for a period each day – using an ironing board works really well as a standing desk, as you can move it anywhere in the home and the height is adjustable. Perhaps if you have a conference call or tutorial you can also take it whilst on a walk, letting someone else have your space for an hour.”
- New Year, New Routines
“The countdown to 2022 gives the perfect opportunity to reflect on our routines and how these have changed, as a result of ongoing lockdown restrictions and remote working. As many as 47% of people said that their biggest priority as we continue to navigate the ‘new normal’ is to get into better exercise routines, followed closely by 42% wanting to spend less time sitting and more time outside. With 37% of Brits saying that personal motivation is the biggest barrier to improving routines, the turn of the year is a great chance to get fresh motivation and put changes in place with some New Year resolutions.
“My top tip is to start small, with manageable intentions to help positive habits stick – I know I’m not alone in setting massive exercise goals for January 1st, which then go out the window by the third week of the year. Your resolution could be as simple as taking a 15-20-minute walk each day, or doing a quick yoga stretch in the morning. Over time this will become almost an automatic habit and you can build it up from there – it’s all about manageable bitesize chunks, which will help you step into 2022 with the right foot forward.”