Shopping on any given day can be a tiring experience, but braving the malls and shopping centers during the busy holiday season is a real test of endurance that can drain both your physical and mental health.
Occupational therapists can offer tips to help you conquer the crowds, conserve your energy, and make holiday shopping more enjoyable.
What can people do during the holidays to shop smarter?
* Lighten up. Don't carry a lot of heavy packages around. Make frequent trips to your car and use your truck as a locker.
* Lift and carry correctly. Remember when lifting packages, especially heavy ones, to lift with your legs. Carry the load closer to your body, and be sure it's balanced. If you can't comfortably lift a package, ask for help.
* Avoid neck and shoulder strain. When carrying a shoulder bag or purse, alternate shoulders. Consider carrying a backpack and use both shoulder straps to evenly distribute the weight.
* Set limits. Recognize your energy limits and plan accordingly. Don't overdo it, and schedule time to take breaks. Plan short shopping trips -- don't cram everything into one day.
* Drink plenty of water and eat balanced meals. Stay hydrated and carry a water bottle as you shop. Eat small, frequent meals and lots of fruits, vegetables and proteins. Avoid high-carbohydrate and high-sugar foods: They may give you a quick burst of energy, but they will leave you with plummeting blood sugar and more tired than ever.
* Consider shopping from home. Stay out of stores altogether and shop from your favorite store's Web site. Most retail stores offer online ordering, or order from catalogs by telephone.
Staying strong and healthy during the holidays is important to a person's overall long-term health. Occupational therapists are trained in helping both adults and children with a broad range of physical, developmental and psychological conditions. Wayne Harris is an Occupational Therapist at WRMC PROS in Highland. He can be reached at 870-856-4740.