Sunday, November 23, 2014

Staying Relaxed during the holidays?

by Delia Nessim

It seems ironic that on Thanksgiving Day we give thanks for all the riches and bounty in our lives, and then the very next day is the “biggest shopping day of the year”. If we truly believe we are blessed, why the mad dash to keep buying more? 

While we may enjoy holiday shopping and even derive satisfaction from choosing the perfect gifts for friends and family, this time of year can also bring tremendous stress. There are the crowds, the extra time required for cooking and shopping, holiday-themed school activities, and the financial strain of extra money being spent. Add to the list all the expectations we have to make everything perfect for the holidays – undoubtedly strengthened by Hallmark movies featuring a large, happy family gathered around the table enjoying each other’s company. Given all this, the holiday season can certainly take its toll on us physically and mentally.

When we are frustrated or stressed, our clarity and mental capacity are diminished. Our immune system is compromised. It is easier to have accidents, make more mistakes, and use poor judgment. Maybe we didn’t need to buy that third present for our niece, bake pies for three different gatherings, or offer to pick up Uncle Walter at the airport when he was okay catching a cab.  In the midst of juggling all the competing demands of the season, we may lose our perspective on what is most important, spending too much time, money, and energy on things and activities that deplete us rather than bring us meaning and joy. 

During this holiday season, it is critical to make our emotional health a priority. Here are a few simple strategies to help you stay relaxed as you move through the coming month:

·      Wake up a little earlier than usual to meditate, read an uplifting poem, or go for a quiet walk in nature.
·      Focus on your breath, noticing its reliable in and out, deepening it whenever you are feeling stressed during the day. 
·      Build yoga, qi gong, or some form of regular exercise into your daily routine.
·      Practice laughter yoga – laughing at any time for no reason at all – to help you keep perspective and a sense of humor.

·      Bring a feeling of love into your heart by focusing on your gratitude for the people and animals dear to you.

Delia Nessim, MFT, is a Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice at The Resiliency Center in Flourtown, PA. In addition to individual, couples, and family counseling, she offers a group for divorced woman and leads workshops on Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT/Tapping). She is also trained in clinical hypnosis and offers individual sessions in both EFT and hypnosis. For more information, see her website at 

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