Make Your Holiday Season Enjoyable With Exercise Learn how exercise can improve your closest relationships during the holidays. BY BOB LIVINGSTONE, LCSW
Break free from the stress of the holiday season through exercise.
The holiday session that begins around Thanksgiving and ends on New Years day is supposed to be a time of joyful celebration and relaxation. However, many of us go through an entirely different experience during that month-and-a-half. There are those among us who simply dread the holidays for a variety of reasons.
Many of us don’t have the money at this point in our lives to buy the essentials to survive, let alone afford presents for loved ones, which makes us feel guilty. The winter brings about a chill in the air that can contribute to feelings of loss. It may also trigger thoughts of hopelessness. During this season, when work and school stops, it seems like your fast paced life has slowed down to a crawl—to the point where you can hear your own dismal thoughts and memories about what goals you haven’t accomplished or those you will never see again because they have passed.
You have now reached the low point of the holidays. Pondering your hurt in an obsessive, ever spinning way serves no other purpose but to back you up into the corner of deep regret. Keep in mind that you are fortunate enough to have someone who loves you—and you, them—but it has been difficult to feel the depth of your connection to your spouse because of our fast-paced, hectic lifestyle. You are worried that your relationship is stale and that you are taking each other for granted.
Exercise can help you get in touch with your true feelings for your partner. Studies have shown that exercising as little as fifteen minutes per day will raise your endorphin levels that will lift the burden of depressed thoughts and agitated moods.
You can run, walk, skate, swim, spin or any other aerobic activity. I also suggest using a portable music device where you can listen to songs of your choice. Choose songs that you know will open up memories of your life with your partner.
As you begin your workout, think about what the holiday season really means and follow these steps:
* Look past the crass commercialism that infects the true meaning of this special time of year.
* Focus upon what you are grateful for.
* Don’t rush through this process. Please take your time. You are grateful for having your partner in your life. Think about the times they have had your back when things were tough.
* Listen to the music while you are moving your body.
* Bring up a visual memory of your partner smiling.
* Realize that this smile warms your heart and soothes your soul.
* Realize that having this connection gives you a purpose for living and that you are not alone in the world.
* Finally, pay attention to your breathing, the landscape in front of you and become part of the music. It’s like the Beatles said, "All you nee is love."
Psychotherapist Bob Livingstone has helped millions heal their emotional pain during the past twenty years. He has been instrumental in assisting victims of emotional and/or physical violence recover from trauma and no longer be victims. He is a featured contributor to DrLaura.com, Beliefnet.com, Ediets.com, Selfgrowth.com and SheKnows.com. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book Body Mind Soul Solution: Healing Emotional Pain Through Exercise (Pegasus Books, Sept. 2007). The first printing has sold out-now in its second printing! For more emotional healing visit www.boblivingstone.com.