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Master The Art Of Relaxation

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

There's something about the holiday season that makes people want to run for cover. Busier schedules, longer to-do lists, heightened entertaining pressures and the current financial crunch are quickly adding up to make this the season of discontent.

So what's the secret to facing the coming holidays head on? Ah, that's simple. Learn to master the art of relaxation.

"Relaxation is a right, not a privilege," says Julie Kosey, manager of integrative health coaching at Duke Integrative Medicine. If you don't learn how to relax, the stress will take its toll on your personal and professional relationships, your health, productivity and overall well-being.

As an integrative health coach, Kosey guides her clients as they learn to control the obstacles that heighten the holiday countdown frenzy. She says mastering relaxation isn't just about deep breathing and soulful meditation, although those do help. It's more about respecting your personal needs, something many people need to be reminded to do.

Here she outlines how you can become a master of your relaxation domain:

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* Visualize your ideal holiday. Before the season ramps up, think about the best holiday you want to have. If that concept doesn't include a trip to Auntie Millie's this year, then think of a polite way to take a pass. Decide ahead of time which invitations suit your family's needs and those to which you'll send your regrets. Don't be afraid to re-evaluate family traditions and start some new ones.

* Figure out what's fun. Relaxation is leisure time, but one person's enjoyment is another person's boredom. Define what relaxing means to you. It could be taking a bubble bath, a long walk, hitting the gym or recharging your batteries with your family. "No matter what your age, people need to play and have something in their life that's enjoyable," says Kosey.

* Schedule down time. Learn how to enjoy being alone with yourself, and/or with your family without today's pervasive technology. "Turn off your cell phones, your computers, and play a board game, draw a picture, or read a book," says Kosey. "Discover what happens what you're not distracted by external forces."

* Be realistic. If you're not the type to do yoga, you probably won't sustain that interest for very long. Identify what's worked for you in the past, and pick relaxing things you like to do. "It's the only way you'll maintain your motivation to relax," she says.

* Recognize when stress is winning. Whether stress comes from too much shopping or too much together time, it's bad for your health. When it starts to rear its ugly head, in the form of headaches, insomnia or disagreements, take a break. If you're at work, get some fresh air. At home, step out on the porch. "Even if you have five minutes. do a series of deep inhales and exhales, or visualize a place you'd like to be," says Kosey. "Take a walk or call a friend." A lot can be done in a short amount of time to keep stress at bay.

* Keep your eye on the prize. If you're not convinced it's vital to relax, you probably won't take the steps to do it. Figure out what relaxing will do for you - whether it's yelling less at your kids or lowering your blood pressure -- and focus on that reward.