Healthy Tourney Time: Stress, Injuries and Game Day Snacks
In this series:
Handling Stress and Anxiety
Many people experience stress and anxiety at one time or another. Stress is your body’s response to an outside stimulus that you aren’t prepared for and can motivate you to overcome a challenge. Feeling stressed or anxious is normal, but if these feelings start to affect your ability to function and perform normal tasks, then it’s time to find help. Other symptoms of anxiety may include:
- Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
- Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless, unsatisfying sleep)
- Continually revisiting an issue without being able to let go
Many people that experience chronic anxiety may also try to self-medicate with alcohol, smoking or by avoiding stressful situations entirely. While these may offer something that feels like relief, seeking treatment from a licensed professional can help you navigate your feelings without letting them overwhelm you. Start by talking with your primary care physician about your stress and anxiety, and then look for a psychiatrist or behavioral health professional. Through talk therapy, specialists can challenge your overwhelming thoughts and teach you coping strategies to use. If needed, they can also find the appropriate medication for you. Over time, you may be able to stop taking medication, but it’s best to discuss what that looks like with your psychiatrist.
Regular exercise has proven to significantly reduce stress and can be a key part of any treatment plan.
If you are experiencing symptoms of severe anxiety that are impairing your daily life, you should seek evaluation from a behavioral health specialist. Depression and anxiety share many of the same symptoms and treatment methods, which is why it’s important to seek help if you have recurring symptoms that won’t go away. Our goal is to teach you how to overcome anxiety and become the best version of yourself.
Dr. Alex Eksir is a psychiatrist at Cone Health Outpatient Behavioral Health at Greensboro and a member of Cone Health Medical Group.
Avoiding Sports-Related Injury
Warmer, spring weather is quickly approaching, and many individuals and athletes are feeling the urge to get back outside and active after the cold winter we had this year. While getting back in shape is essential, it is important to take it slow and not immediately begin intense exercises, as this can prompt injury. Sports injuries can fall into two categories:
- Acute – sudden injury normally stemming from a traumatic event
- Overuse – an injury that slowly develops from repetitive motion
Overuse injuries are common but aren’t always as obvious as acute. Symptoms of overuse injuries can include a nagging pain that you need to modify your form to avoid, that continues to hurt after you stop exercising, or that you need over-the-counter medication to treat daily.
A lot of injuries can be avoided by getting a good warm-up in before you start exercising. A warm-up doesn’t need to be intense, but it should get you’re your heart rate up a little. If you are just beginning a workout routine, start slow until you get comfortable with the exercise. Trying to push yourself too hard too quickly is an easy way to get hurt. As you get stronger, you can slowly push yourself by increasing either your frequency, duration or intensity. It’s best to choose one area to increase per week to minimize your risk of injury. For example, if you’re a runner, you could try speeding up by 10% or run 10% farther.
After each workout, focus on stretching the major muscle groups and ice areas that may experience from overuse. Only stretch after a workout, as stretching before MAY increase your risk of injury. Sports injuries shouldn’t be ignored and should be brought to the attention of your primary care or sports medicine provider.
Dr. Michael Rigby is a family and sports medicine specialist at LeBauer HealthCare at Horse Pen Creek and a member of Cone Health Medical Group.
Healthy Game Day Snacks
If you want to eat some of your normal game day favorites, go ahead - just pay attention to how much you eat. A healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean avoiding all of your favorite foods, but it may mean adjusting your portion size. To help you avoid overindulging, practice some of these tips:
- Grab a smaller plate – that way you can’t put as much on it.
- Don’t sit by the food – you are more likely to keep eating when you’re not hungry if all the snacks are left out in front of you while you watch.
- Drink water and eat regular meals before the party – by starving ourselves all day, we are more likely to overeat and overindulge when it’s time for the game.
If you would prefer to avoid splurging, you’ll need to look for some healthy alternatives to snack on. This is where reading food labels is really important because you need to consider the calories as well as the nutrient content of each item. Some healthy snack options could include:
- Plain popcorn with low-calorie seasoning
- Hummus or guacamole with snap peas
- Fruit and Cheese Kabobs
Some items such as salsa and chips have lower calorie counts PER serving, but overeating these items is so much easier since they don’t fill you up. If you do overeat, don’t feel guilty and don’t give up on eating healthy at your next meal or snack. Think of every day as a fresh start to make healthy choices.
Nathan Franks is a clinical dietitian at Cone Health’s Annie Penn Hospital in Reidsville