Back Pain and Holiday Blues: 18 Tips to Reduce Your Holiday Stress

Ah yes, the holidays are upon us once again, and with them the holiday blues. Not everyone is in festive spirits, especially those of us with chronic pain. Often, chronic back pain leads to depression, and alternately depression can worsen physical pain.

See Chronic Pain As a Disease: Why Does It Still Hurt?

As fun as they can be, holidays can also cause a lot of stress.

The added anxiety and stress of all the holiday planning and expectations can intensify feelings of sadness. Plus, travel blues may catch us off guard as we're taken away from our normal routines and pain management support like special ergonomic chairs and mattresses. Even if it's just a temporary bout of the holiday blues, that doesn't mean you have to simply accept it. Here are some things you can do to reduce your holiday stress.

  1. Talk with friends on the phone, or over coffee.
  2. Talk with other people who suffer from back pain or chronic pain on the Spine-health forums:
  3. See your family doctor or psychiatrist—you may have a physiological disorder that requires antidepressants.
  4. Improve your diet and exercise regularly, at least on non-party days. Don't stress about weight gain at the big family gathering or work holiday party. Having food you enjoy and chatting with friends releases endorphins. Live a little! But on the other days, make sure that you eat in moderation and get at least a half hour of cardiovascular exercise, even if that means nothing more than taking a walk. If you have difficulty with certain types of exercises due to back or neck pain, try these exercise tips for people with back pain.
  5. Seek sunshine - the real thing is best, but if it's dark and dreary outside, consider investing in a light therapy lamp.
  6. Set realistic goals, and don't be the ultimate people-pleaser. Decide what's important and don't overextend yourself.
  7. Plan a small gathering of friends or neighbors such as a dinner or wine party.
  8. Read these articles:
  9. Make sure your plans move you toward your goal, and celebrate even minor achievements.
  10. Buy yourself some new music and/or new books to have on hand.
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  1. Go to a museum or concert.
  2. Plan a short trip to a place you enjoy, either by yourself or with a good friend, and don't forget to take along these pain-free travel tips.
  3. Watch movies on Netflix.
  4. Hug somebody! This is no joke, hugging has positive and real physical benefits.
  5. Understand the mind/body connection. Your thoughts can have a powerful effect on your body and on your emotional state. Start with this article: Opening and Closing the Pain Gates for Chronic Pain.
  6. Go ergonomic. If you're at home, it makes sense to have ergonomic seating available. If you're going to sit and watch TV, eat dinner, or pay bills, do everything you can to reduce your pain by giving your back the proper support. Pain management is a key component in managing depression during the holidays as well as throughout the year.
  7. Get enough sleep. Yes, you have to get to the store, wrap those gifts, bake that cake, etc...but sleep deprivation is a big contributor to depression. Be disciplined—go to bed on time and get 6 to 8 hours of sleep! If you have difficulty sleeping due to chronic pain, you might want to check out our articles on the best mattresses for back pain.
  8. Clean up the house and get organized. A clean space can make you feel better about any other holiday projects you have going on.


  1. Honor your own feelings. While nobody wants to feel depressed, recognizing your sadness can mean that something isn't working in your life the way that you would like it to. If it's something you want to change, hey, it's almost time for those New Year's resolutions, right? Pay attention to what your body is telling you, and if necessary, seek the help you need.

One more thing...Need a gift idea for someone on your list with herniated discs? Give them a copy of our new eBook now at Amazon.

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