29 November, 2013 By Karen McCormick
Although historically Black Friday is the day retailers are ‘in the black’, so to speak, for bargain hunters it has more to do with the stress and agony of long lines, crowded stores and even sleep lost to arriving at stores early for the best deals. Here in Billings MT, where we’re visiting for the holiday, nearly 700 people arrived 24 hours early for door prizes and special deals at the local Cabela’s store. They gave up spending the holiday with loved ones in order to get prizes and save money on stuff.
I could write several blog posts on this topic, but today I’ll restrain myself and just give a few reminders for you harried shoppers:
#1: BREATHE. Whether standing in line, pushing your way through crowds or collapsing at home afterwards, remember to keep the oxygen flowing to your brain and body with slow deep breaths. Pull your shoulders back by imaging making your shoulder blades touch- or at least as close as you can get. This helps create opening in your abdominal cavity. Your lungs need room to expand and doing this one simple thing gives it to them. Expand and breathe.
#2: FOCUS. Put a calm, relaxing, happy image in the forefront of your mind before you even head out the door, and when you are feeling stressed, just take a deep breath and focus on that.You can be standing in the checkout line and see yourself relaxing on the beach in Hawaii. It helps.
#3: FIND YOUR CALM. Similar to focusing, but on a deeper level. Even a few seconds of divorcing yourself from the crowds and finding your calm center relaxes the body and mind. If you do yoga and/or meditation you should be familiar with the feeling of calmness that flows through us when we stop our busy selves and allow it. No matter what you are doing, you can take a minute and realign yourself into that peaceful state.
#4: STRETCH. Slow, easy stretches. Not gym/yoga class effort but gentle, easy stretches to release those stressed muscles. When muscles are tense for long periods of time, fatigue sets in. Stiffness and soreness results. Remember to stretch today and avoid feeling burnout tomorrow.
#5: HYDRATE. Coffee and sodas, the stuff you find at the mall food court, do not hydrate the body. Take good quality water with you. Suprisingly, dehydration is often an issue more in winter than summer. Both cold air and heating systems suck the moisture right out of you. Whenever I do a session with Amy Kraft, the first thing she asks is if I’ve brought water and for good reason. Studies show even a 10% decrease from optimal hydration levels is enough to impact brain function and physical performance. So drink plenty of water.
#6: EAT. Don’t let the desire to get great deals make you neglect to fuel your body. That’s what food is: the fuel that powers the physical machine we reside in. You wouldn’t expect your car to run properly if you fill your tank with cheap, low grade junk fuel. Same goes for your physical self. Good quality, nutritious food is what you crave. You may have enough calories in that fast meal, but if there is little or no real nutrition (not just vitamins but trace minerals, too), you’ll still be hungry after. Eat a high protein breakfast for sustained energy before you venture out and plan ahead for nutritious refueling as needed.
In the coming days I’ll be talking more about nutrition and supplementation to get you through the cold, dark winter months and busy holiday season. I will also talk about flu prevention and what to do if you do get the dread virus. But first, let’s build a stable platform to begin from, and that involves the six points I just mentioned. It’s important to take care of yourself so you can be of benefit to not only yourself, but to others. It’s hard to feel like doing anything if you don’t feel well. And this is, after all, the season of doing.