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Taking Stress and Depression Out of Your Holiday Traditions

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be there. But Mom is stressed out about hosting the holiday dinner and fulfilling the family gift list, while Dad is buried at work delivering last-minute projects for the end of the year. As depression and stress may be settling into your household for a long winter’s rest, you might be finding yourself with little to no holiday joy or delight in sight.

If the Grinch is stealing your family’s holiday spirit this year, there’s still time in the season to warm your hearts by replacing the negative characters of stress, depression and unhappiness with positive attitudes, a healthy perspective and holiday cheer.

Focus on the Reason for the Season

The holidays can be a stressful time for many people when perspectives get out of whack and responsibilities weigh you down. To keep your holiday spirit on track, take a few minutes out of your busy schedule each day this month to reflect on the origin of the holiday you celebrate and share the true meaning of the holidays with your family’s younger generation. Something as simple as reading a nightly holiday story with your children or grandchildren, baking cookies for your family, friends and neighbors, or participating in illumination traditions can help you and your family get back to your holiday roots while spending quality time with each other.

“The holidays are supposed to be enjoyable, not stressful,” says Brittany Valdes-Pages, massage therapist at Elements Centennial. “I think people get too caught up in doing this and doing that. It’s important to remember that life is supposed to be happy and the holidays are supposed to be a happy time in your life focused around family, food and loved ones.”

Positive Attitudes Lead to Positive Results

It’s easy to get down in the dumps during the holiday season as bills pile up, personal and professional commitments wear you thin and unreasonable expectations take over your life. This time of year it's more important than ever to give yourself a break and carve time out of your busy schedule to relax and unwind. When you take care of yourself you not only feel good about who you are, but your positive attitude will radiate with everyone you come into contact with at home, work or social gatherings.

“When people make a commitment to take care of themselves, it gives them a more positive mentality that affects all areas of their life,” shares Valdes-Pages.

Massage therapists from across the country like Valdes-Pages and Colleen O’Connor, therapist and studio owner at Elements Louisville East, find that the best way for their clients to get away from it all and relieve their stressful lifestyle, especially during the busy holiday season, is to schedule regular massages.

During a massage session, you can virtually escape from the outside chaos and noise that fills your daily life. There aren’t any phones in the room, no e-mail, no pinging, no demands from your children. It’s just you closed off from the stresses and obligations of the world, relaxing on a comfortable and warm table, and a therapist whose sole purpose is to pay attention to just you.

“There are very few times in the life of an adult where the sole focus is on you,” shares O’Connor. “In a massage room, that is one of those few times where it’s all about you. There’s a lot of comfort in that. As an adult, it is so rare, but so necessary.”

“Massage is about much more than healing the body,” adds Valdes-Pages. “It’s about healing the mind, body and spirit. I have clients who experience emotional releases during a session because they’ve been storing up their emotions for so long. In these instances, massage can be really beneficial for releasing emotional baggage.”

Celebrate What You Love

Life can get complicated really fast during the holidays. Keep it simple by going back to the basics and focusing on only what you truly love.

Instead of trying to do everything and being everything for everyone, pick one or two things that really matter to you and your family during the holidays and focus on making the most out those traditions and experiences. Don’t worry about missing out on the big events, parties or activities of the season, but rather enjoy all of the small occasions you plan with your family and friends by making the most out of your holiday experiences. Laughter, gratitude and being passionate about what you love can be some of the best medicine for combatting stress and releasing all of the emotions that you carry around with you throughout your day and during the holiday season.

Don’t let the stress and tension that can typically be associated with the holidays bottle up inside you. Before your emotions cloud your holiday spirit, find healthy outlets like massage to defuse any negativity you’ve been storing and keep your perspective in check by focusing on what truly makes you happy this holiday season. Take back the positive attitudes and healthy holiday cheer that the Grinch likes to steal around this time of year by having a wonderful holiday season full of smiles that span from ear to ear.

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