The holiday balancing act

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. 

By Cathleen Kronemer

We are entering a very busy time of year. Even though Hanukkah is behind us, many families plan holiday get-togethers and festive gatherings with friends all throughout the month of December. The shopping frenzy continues as we all search for an elusive perfect gift for that one hard-to-buy-for individual on our holiday list. Needless to say, our daily schedules, which are already full, seem to become overburdened, albeit with positive and exciting events.  The end result is often fatigue, frustration and an overwhelming sense of being “out of balance.”

While this may be fairly easily remedied by simply prioritizing invitations, declining events which interfere with the important aspects of daily life, and in general making wise choices with time management, our bodies might need more attention than our minds and energy circuits. When our bodies are out of balance, everything we do seems just a bit more difficult, and over time this can pull us down and propel us toward an unnecessarily negative mindset.

Balance can be described as a biological system that enables us to know where our bodies are in the environment, and to maintain a desired position. While we may take the slow erosion of balance as a natural consequence of aging, this is not necessarily so. I often tell my clients that balance is like the multiplication facts we had to memorize in school: we need to keep working at it, practicing regularly, in order for it to become engrained within.

My favorite balance exercise is one which I recommend to individuals who wish to practice at home.  I suggest standing on the right foot and elevating the left foot while brushing teeth in the morning, and reversing the stance during the bedtime brushing.  The bathroom counter should always be no more than a finger’s length away, just in case external stability is required.  This practice guarantees that balance will be incorporated at least twice during each day.

Another aspect of balance requires leg strength.  To improve this, I suggest that clients practice sitting down and standing up from a chair without holding onto anything at all. It may be challenging at first, but will become easy and routine over time.  Think about doing this after meals, without touching the table, or when rising from the sofa after watching television.

Once our bodies become more adept at balancing, and we start to experience a better sense of awareness of our physical presence, it will be easier to handle the emotional upheavals that tend to occur at this time of year.  Take a deep breath, exhale slowly, feel yourself at ease within the space you physically occupy, and enjoy the festivities.