How to survive your holiday shopping
How can we best enjoy our seasonal shopping trips, whether online or to a physical location?
At this time of year, our thoughts often turn toward shopping, ahead of the traditional gift giving of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or your own special holiday. Followed swiftly by the New Year sales!
Here are 10 tips for reducing the strain of shopping on both body and mind, to minimise post-shopping aches and pains.
1. Are you sitting comfortably?
Whether taking an online journey or travelling to a bricks and mortar location, your seated posture is key to an energised presence. Follow these guidelines to good seated posture.
Activate your core muscles by lifting the pelvic floor muscles (think of lifting the sling of muscles running from anus to genitals)
Draw in your abdominal (belly) muscles enough for it to feel like they are providing support for the spine.
Allow the spine to lengthen while still maintaining its natural curves.
Position your head comfortably on your spine, imagining that you are being drawn up tall from the crown of your head
Keep your feet firmly rooted on the ground
2. Plan your expedition
If you have gone to an unfamiliar location, take a few minutes to work out how best to navigate the physical layout, or the online menu. This will save you from sore feet, sore fingers, and certainly save on frustration. I often schedule myself a coffee (with a handful of nuts for protein) before I actually start my shopping expedition, particularly if I have had a long drive.
3. Avoid shopping bag overload
Think about the yoga way of encouraging equal activity on both sides of the body. Distribute the weight of your gifts evenly – carry a bag in each hand and make sure that you don’t have one bag filled with heavy tech gear while the other only contains flimsy underwear. Re-pack if necessary when you buy more items.
4. Take a break
Build in comfort breaks (the equivalent of your yoga relaxation), whether to just go to the toilet or to have a drink and a snack. Remember to re-fuel regularly – a light meal is preferable to sugary snacks. Excess caffeine or sugar will only give you a temporary boost, followed by a big dip in energy levels. Soup and a sandwich containing protein will serve you better.
Indoor retail centres can have very dry atmospheres as a result of air conditioning. Wearing a mask may also give you a dry throat. Take a bottle of water and sip regularly, something that I also recommend during yoga practice. Staying hydrated will help you to avoid a dehydration headache. Unfortunately, won’t help with headaches generated by Christmas songs played loudly on repeat.
If you feel frustration starting to build, take ten. Ten long, slow belly breaths, where you gradually make the exhale (the breath out) a little longer than the inhale. Extending the exhale taps into the parasympathetic nervous system in a positive manner, creating calm. Using the breath to effect positive change is a key component in DRUVA Yoga Therapy work.
7. Embrace the queue
Not literally! But you can use those long queues positively, to build your core muscles. Try this exercise – it’s as if you are working your core muscles from the inside out. This DRUVA Yoga Therapy exercise won’t get you a six pack, but will help you to build strength in the important muscles that protect your spine.
Stand tall and breathe out
Draw up your pelvic floor muscles (yes, men have them too, see previous Blog) and pull in your belly slightly
Hold this slight tension while continuing to breathe in and out with a belly breath for 3 breaths, then release all tension and breathe normally
Repeat the whole process five times, then consciously relax the muscles in your body to finish
8. Stand tall
Another queue buster exercise is to stand tall. Following all the advice that I’ve given in the past about how to build your yoga Tadasana (Mountain pose) from the floor up, you can grow in stature as you stand in line. This will also help with shopping fatigue, as correct posture helps you to breathe more efficiently
9. Shopping trolley savvy
When transferring shopping from trolley to car, lift the bags out of the trolley, hold them close to your body, then turn whole body in order to put bags into the car, using your DRUVA Yoga Therapy posture. This avoids awkward twisting movements, and reduces the chances of ending the day with backache. Take your time and lift only the amount that you can comfortably manage in one go.
Exercise your smile muscles as you go through your day. If wearing your mask, it is even more important to smile widely, crinkle those eyes, allow your whole body to radiate bonhomie. By smiling, even if you don’t feel like it, you can change your mood to a more positive one. And maybe make someone else’s day. After all, ‘tis the season to be jolly…..
Most of the above tips apply equally to shopping in store or online. The queue buster tips can be used by online shoppers as a health break between loading different websites, and don’t forget to give the eyes a break as well.
Follow these healthy guidelines and enjoy your gift shopping. The value of the gift is in the love, not the price. I wish you all a happy, healthy holiday season.