Remember National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? There is one scene where Chevy Chase, as hapless Clark Griswold, is balanced on a wobbly ladder while stapling lights to the house. As he overreaches to put up the lights, he staples his sleeve onto the siding and tries desperately to free himself. This of course causes the unbalanced ladder to completely give way sending Clark backwards where he is miraculously saved by a tree and can propel himself forward again toward the house, crashing into it and sending him flying and grasping to keep himself from falling off the ladder.

Christmas Vacation is a hilarious holiday movie but don’t let that be you this decorating season.

Far too often, real tragedy happens when it comes to decorating for the winter holidays. This NBC News report from the 2013 holiday season shared some details of injuries that are common during the decorating time of year. As it turns out, falls are among the most prevalent injuries usually due to the unsafe use of ladders or standing on items not meant to be used in that manner.

Holiday cheer

Unless you’re an absolute Grinch or Scrooge, you probably want to decorate your living space for the winter holidays. Decorating doesn’t have to be dangerous. If you live in an apartment you may want to keep you decorations inside only. In this case, table top accessories and a tree will be a great addition to your home and you can keep your physical danger to a minimum. Many injuries occur because of outdoor decorating. As it turns out, many people attempt this task while inebriated. Be sure to stay sober and use all the right safety precautions while stringing lights on the house.

What are other ways the holidays can cause pain and injury?

It isn’t just decorating that can lead to injury or pain. If you are already dealing with the effects of chronic pain there are several things that may exacerbate the issues. Cold weather is one of the biggest culprits of added pain and many people don’t prepare properly when they’re out in the cold. Before you go outdoors make sure you have warm socks and boots, a hat that covers your ears, and adequate gloves. A scarf can help keep the cold off your face. Avoiding these steps can lead to long-term pain in the extremities if they are exposed to cold for too long.

The driveway is a hazard in the winter, too. If you live in an area where snow and ice is common the driveway, sidewalks, steps, and porch can quickly become treacherous. The first step is to clear the layer of snow. Safe shoveling techniques, or using a snow blower, are the only good methods to do this. If you have a chronic pain condition that can make this difficult, you may be able to talk a neighborhood kid into making a few extra bucks for shoveling out your house. Once the snow is cleared be sure to salt the driveway and walkways. The reason for this is to prevent ice from forming and causing a worse hazard than the snow itself. It is essential to prevent falls so you can avoid further injury and long term pain.

Of course, you can only be responsible for your own property. If you live in an apartment complex be sure to hold the management staff accountable for keeping you and the other tenants safe. Be extra careful in public places and be sure to alert store managers or owners to any unnecessary dangers lurking outside their businesses.

Of course, one of the most delightful aspects of the winter holidays is to experience the lights in your own neighborhood. You may even want to drive to other areas of your city or town to see more expansive light displays. It is important to be cautious when walking outside to view these lights as well. Try to keep to areas that are well-lit at night.

Preventing arthritis pain

The holiday season has a number of hazards for individuals dealing with the effects of arthritis, either rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Simple tasks from hanging small ornaments on the tree to wrapping packages can cause additional pain. You may wish to consider a pair of arthritis gloves which can help control pain when using your hands for fine, detailed work. Take your time and take frequent breaks. Use tools that can help such as automatic scissors. Don’t be afraid to use stick-on bows rather than tying intricate ribbons on the packages yourself.

Arthritis pain often hits while in the kitchen, too. Chopping vegetables, baking, and using small hand tools can be difficult. There are plenty of kitchen gadgets that can help the cooking process such as food processors or choppers. Involve the whole family to help prepare and cook holiday feast.

Celebrating the winter holidays should not be painful in any way. Winter is already a difficult time of the year for many people so adding physical pain to the equation certainly doesn’t help. Whenever you can, ask for help. Your friends, family, and neighbors will understand and can help you plan and execute a lovely holiday to celebrate the season.

Staying pain-free during the holidays

Here are some additional tips to stay pain-free this holiday season:

  • Eat healthy and exercise: While it can be difficult, or nearly impossible, try to make healthy choices when it comes to eating this holiday season. Plan for holiday parties so you don’t give in to the temptation of eating everything in sight. Avoid keeping fatty and sugary foods in your house.
  • Stay hydrated: Water is essential. It not only keeps our bodies hydrated but it helps to prevent inflammation in the body that can cause additional pain. The winter air can be drying so drink enough water to stay hydrated. You can enjoy some hot beverages like tea as well.
  • Avoid stress: While the holidays are meant to bring us cheer and joy they can be stressful for many people. Keeping up with the shopping and decorating can be exhausting. You may need to gather with family members with whom you don’t get along. Do what you can to alleviate stress this time of year. Meditation or a practice such as yoga can help.
  • Get enough sleep: Finally, be sure you get enough sleep. Staying up late at night visiting with family or friends can be attractive but exhaustion can set in quickly, especially during these long, dark nights. In general, try to maintain a regular sleep schedule. Use supplements or relaxing teas to help you get to sleep naturally.

How do you avoid pain while decorating for the holidays?

Image by Josh via Flickr

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