Give yourself a gift this holiday season

December 08, 2000

Give yourself a gift this holiday season

Slow down, relax and rejuvenate

By MEG H. PARTINGTON / Staff Writer
see also: Tips for relaxing

There's a certain complexity about the holiday season.


Already hectic daily routines are compounded by social obligations, the hunt for gifts, and preparing meals for hordes of family members and friends. Add early deadlines at work that allow you to take time off around Christmas and New Year's, and you start to feel like you're on a treadmill moving at warp speed.

Just thinking about it all makes your heart pound.

This is the perfect time to take a breath and slow down for a minute. Or an hour.

Too many people focus on what they think they should be doing rather than what they want to do, said Barbara Andreadis, a state-licensed psychotherapist and director of Crossroads Behavioral Therapy Center in Hancock.

"Your heart really has all the answers to that," Andreadis said.


Perhaps you'd rather take a stroll down the street and look at neighbors' light displays than face the blinking, neon lights at the mall. Put your coat on and do it.

"You have to get outside," said the Rev. Anne Weatherholt, rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Boonsboro.

A short walk in nature is a reminder of the simple beauty of the world, added Mara Ashelman, who handles special projects at Coolfont Resort in Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

Weatherholt recommends healthy doses of "creative time-wasting."

"Go out without a purpose," she said. If you start feeling guilty about being nonproductive, think to yourself: "This is the gift I give to myself because I am a precious creation," Weatherholt said.

Positive self-talk was also advocated by Joan Bachtell, parish nurse at St. Mark's Episcopal Church.

When you're stuck in a slow-moving line and are getting impatient, say something soothing to yourself, like "Jesus loves me, he really does," she said.

Go gently

It's common for people to run themselves ragged this time of year, treating themselves with careless disregard. You wouldn't treat your best friend that way, so don't be so hard on yourself, Andreadis said.

"We're more compassionate with other people than we are to ourselves," she said.

Go to a quiet place and be still, she said.

Deep breathing is a great way to release tension from the body, said Debbie Stuff of Greencastle, Pa., who teaches exercise classes at Tuscarora Senior Activity Center in Mercersburg, Pa., and also teaches yoga.

After you've calmed down, soak in the music of the season.

"Music touches our emotions in ways words do not," Weatherholt said.

If you really need to indulge, Ashelman recommended spending a day at a spa, where you can get a facial, massage, manicure and pedicure, and eat a healthful meal. If your wallet is too thin for such a treat, create a spa atmosphere at home, she said.

Share a sofa with a significant other and rub massage oil or lotion into each other's legs and feet, Ashelman said. Another option is to fill a tub with hot water, sprinkle in some mineral salts and soak.

While slowing down has numerous benefits, exercise can provide a quick pick-me-up and unleash some of the body's stress, Ashelman said. Don't overdo it, though; keep limitations in mind, she said.

A combination of exercise and rest is ideal, Ashelman said. A healthy dose of both can increase productivity and improve attitudes.

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