I don’t know about you, but Pascha can be quite a stressful period!
The lead up to Great and Holy Week presents nightly church vigils, which are of enormous spiritual benefit but can also cause our routine to go out of whack. To top that off- there is the dishes to prepare- the ‘arni’ to marinate, the ‘magiritsa’ to prepare, the ‘tsourekia’ to bake and the dyeing of the eggs.
Many of us may also be coming to the end of a period of austere fasting (54 days to be exact) which has its spiritual benefits but also many health benefits that perhaps we may take for granted, or simply are not aware of.
Whilst our journey ends (or perhaps truly begins?) in our Lord’s glorious resurrection, we are faced with vibrant celebrations and a multitude of food! For us Greeks, what is a celebration without food and lots of it, right?
So it's easy to run off track by the pressures that come with the Holy and Festive season of Pascha and our priorities in life can shift from our normal, healthy routines, to a hectic lifestyle with stress, lack of time to exercise, loss of lean muscle mass (from our strict fast period), and WAY too much eating and drinking… sound familiar?
One of the best ways, in my opinion is to continue exercise and rehab routines at a moderate level. Engaging in physical activities such as swimming, walking, weight/resistance training - be it using body weight or actually pushing weights, stretching and floor exercises can minimise or prevent the negative effects of no training. This may also help in motivating the return of the normal lifestyle, exercises and duties, making one feel great and in good shape post Pascha!
Don’t feel guilty and stress if you enjoyed yourself and overindulged on one or two occasions during Pascha, I mean who can resist a piece of homemade Tsoureki (sweet short-bread). Where most of us go wrong though, is that the over indulging doesn’t stop after two or three occasions, and before we know it, we find ourselves having overindulged for 14 days straight.
I recall as a child being fed ‘magiritsa’ for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next week. It is vital to have the self-awareness to identify when you have gone too far, and then to possess the strength and discipline to turn the rudder and change course!
For those of us who like to have a drink, or drinks, I like to set a rule- every drink you have equates to a kilometre you must either walk or run the next day - 3 drinks, 3 km run; 8 drinks, 8 km run- you get the picture!
Perhaps set your own rules with food and drinks that will help you work off some of those extra calories whilst still allowing you to have a good time. As for me, well nothing beats a glass of iced cold water – and a good 10km run the next day just for fun!
Remember, ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it’, so maintain the results you worked so hard for during the year and move your body as you prepare your soul, your mind and your body during the Pascha period.
By Andrew Papas
APA Titled Musculoskeletal & Sports Physiotherapist
Director/Principal SOS Physiotherapy
Physiotherapist Canterbury-Bulldogs Rugby League Club