55 PLUS - Take a break to destress during the holiday season

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It's the week before Christmas and maybe those holiday preparations are done and maybe they're not.

Taking some time now for yourself might help you avoid holiday stress. Getting everyone together is much of the joy of the season, it's not about maxing out those credit cards. Relax, take some time for yourself.

At the best, you're done. The next best may be to sit down and take stock of what went well and what didn't, then make a check list for next year, new addresses and gift ideas.

Take some time for humor. Watch a funny movie, laugh more and don't fret every little detail. Between the winter hardships and holiday expectations it can be a time of stress mixed in with the joy of family and spiritual celebrations.

"I know so many people get stressed out because of the holidays and the winter weather," said Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin, executive director at the YWCA. Instead of falling into worry and stress, "We could just celebrate," she said.

She de-stresses with exercise, friends and focusing on helping those in need. "I love my morning walk at Bennington Lake with my group of friends. Anything that's bothering me, any worry that I had subsides. Being with these people, I call them the ‘brain trust' and ‘mental health specialists.'"

"This is such a hard time for people in personal crisis. There's a real increase in depression. The women are often doubting themselves and thinking that if they went back (to the abusive situation) they'd give their kids a better Christmas. It's a busy time for staff but we get to go home to people who love and support us. Our challenge is to make the holidays an affirming time for the women here," she said.

"The community has contributed to make the holidays bright for women who made the choice to leave a bad situation." Staff at the YWCA provides plenty of festive holiday activities to keep the moms and children involved. Decorating for the holidays, making crafts for gift-giving are ways to keep those in crisis in a more positive mindset, Zell Schwerin said.

Just taking a moment to calm down and treat yourself well might help, according to Jeanese LeFore owner of Misbehaven Spa & Salon. According to LeFore, so many people are constantly rushing around, doing everything. Then they are asking, "Why am I sick all the time?" LeFore suggested beating stress, holiday or otherwise, with some quiet time to pamper yourself.

"Massages. Maybe pedicures, you can just sit there for an hour while someone pampers your feet," she said.

"To help with a variety of these issues, you could get a massage, pedicure or facial just for the relaxation part of it. One of our massage therapists said a massage helps with circulation as well as relaxation. It reconnects mind and body."

Taking time for yourself can do you a world of good. You can beat the holiday stress and create a more healthy, balanced state of awareness for yourself. Count your blessings and focus on what the holidays mean to you and your family.

Karlene Ponti can be reached by calling 509-526-8324 or by e-mail at karleneponti@wwub.com.

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