For many people, the holidays really are are “the most wonderful time of the year.” But for others, it's not all hot chocolate and snow angels. Depression, anxiety, and even suicide tend to rise during the holiday season, and if mental health issues in yourself or a loved one come to the fore, resources are available. And, even those not struggling with mental health can find that back pain and spine conditions can really put a damper on that holiday spirit.
Studies suggest that the holiday season can be a challenging time for the body and mind. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in 2017, around 18,100 people visited emergency rooms as a result of holiday decorating-related injuries. In 2018, PBS NewsHour shared a poll they conducted which showed that a third of U.S. adults say the holidays stress them out.
Barbara Bergin, M.D., a board certified orthopedic surgeon with Texas Orthopedics, sees stringing up lights as a big cause of back pain. “Right after Halloween, Christmas lights go up in my neighborhood, and that's just about the time I start seeing all sorts of resultant injuries,” she says. “Back pain is a common result of the repetitive strain of hanging lights, as well as frank injuries or falls.”
The solution: “Get someone else to do it!” Dr. Bergin asserts. “If you must do it yourself, then make sure ladders are on stable ground. Place ladders at the point of your best physical advantage so you don't have to reach or tip toe. Put your decorations closer to the ground so you don't have to reach or even get out that ladder.”