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De-Stressing Before the Holiday Season

by Erica Bauwens

The end of October signifies the start of something even bigger: the holidays. While we love the bonding and family time associated with the holidays, there’s no denying that there is stress involved. Planning and executing big meals, battling mall parking lots and super sale lines and finding the time to somehow keep the house clean while everyone in your life comes in and out at all hours can leave you counting down the days until Jan. 2.

Managing the stress of holidays is possible, especially with a little bit of pre-planning. We took a look at some of the stress relievers in the area that can serve as a pre-holiday gift to yourself.

Unwinding in style
Some indulgences can also help you manage your time. A blowout, for example, is a great way to cut out personal hair care in your busy schedule and is a serious way to pamper and relax.

“When I think of the holidays and getting one thing off your plate, it’s a great way to treat yourself while also allowing yourself to cut one thing out of your schedule,” says Marilynne Cosmillo, director of education and operations at Cherry Blow Dry Bar.

“A blowout is different than your regular blow dry at the salon. At a salon it’s a way to check on your cut and color, but the blowout is an experience that is style driven,” explains Cosmillo. “You can pinpoint your inspiration or goal for the style and that comes through at the end. A blowout has longevity and is meant to last a bit longer than your typical routine.”

With the help of a shower cap and some dry shampoo, a good blowout can eliminate up to a week of conditioning, blow drying, curling, straightening and more.

Tanning is another way to boost your confidence, whether it’s through a quick and easy spray tan or the more traditional bed. But Rob Worrick, co-owner of Surf City Tans, says that many people in the area are finding a new way to treat themselves: IR Body Wraps.

“The IR Body Wrap is a private room with what looks like a sleeping bag,” explains Worrick. “It heats up like a sauna and helps your body sweat out harmful chemicals and toxins.”

Worrick says a one-hour session in the infrared body wrap system can help you lose up to a dress size of water weight, and also equates to around 1,200 calories burnt. And it can also clean your skin and helps relieve joint pain caused by age or injury. “It’s a warming experience, so when it starts to get chilly you have this warm escape,” says Worrick. “You can just relax, use your iPad or watch TV and unwind for an hour. And at the end of it you see results.”

Finding relief
For some, a massage is the ultimate luxury reserved for vacations or as a gift from a relative. But gifting yourself a regular massage is a quick and easy way to compartmentalize stress and make day-to-day tasks more approachable.

“Stress is one of our biggest pains in the world, even though you don’t consider it actual pain. Especially this time of year, you’re running everywhere, meeting with people dealing with the stress of it all,” says Rhiannon Flores-Drennen, owner of Philosopher’s Stone Massage and licensed massage and body work therapist.

There are a variety of types of massage, all of which can work with your stress to help your body feel more relaxed and ready to go. “Stress is a medical issue, it causes problems in the body,” says Kristin Stewart, owner of Ah-Mazing Massage and licensed massage therapist. Stewart is also a certified equine sports doctor, so she can work specially in deep-tissue massage.

“A lot of people think deep tissue means heavy pressure, but it means that you are working with the muscles further in toward the body. They are smaller and the ones that activate first when you go to move in any direction,” explains Flores-Drennen. “When they get tight, especially around the rotator cuffs and shoulders, it starts to get really stiff and tense and painful.”

Stewart goes on to explain that making massage a more regular part of your schedule can help maintain a lowered stress level, especially during the fall and winter months. “It’s beneficial when you’re in a high-stress industry or lifestyle,” says Stewart. I have people come in once a month, once every two weeks, or when they feel they really need it. You can wake up in the middle of the night with back pain and just book an appointment to get that worry off your plate.”

In some cases you don’t even need to leave your office. “Corporate chair massage is a really great thing to get involved in with work and something employees always appreciate. I come right out to the office, and it’s great because your professional lifestyle and your hobbies are important considerations in massage,” says Stewart. “If someone sits at a desk all day and I see the setting I will have different things to consider. You can also host massage parties for a group of people.”

In-shape and stress-free
One of the biggest sources of stress for adults during the holidays comes when those new jeans stop fitting or the numbers on the scale tick slowly up. Watching all your progress over the last year slip away is frustrating and can develop into a vicious cycle, but it doesn’t have to be hard to maintain and even lose weight during the holidays.

“Stress and weight gain go hand-inhand,” explains Dr. Vic Bahal of Advanced Cardiology of South Jersey. “It’s a really good idea to consult about your weight management before the holidays, so your eating habits are controlled and you don’t gain weight, which leads to heart disease.”

A weight management consult will include getting a weight, height and body mass index and discussing diet, exercise and nutriceuticals available to help stay on top of weight loss. “A look at those three factors can really help you avoid the stress that comes with your holiday diet.”

Exercise can also be a stress reliever in itself. No matter what, though, Bahal says that something as simple as a daily meditation session can be an easy and accessible personal treat. “Take five minutes a day, seven days a week, to practice breathing exercises. Sit down, in a dark room with your legs crossed, breath in as deeply as you can and out as deeply as you can,” he says. “Try to maintain complete silence and just try to focus on yourself during that time. Taking those five minutes can make such a difference.” ?

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 8 (October, 2016).
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