Lifestyle

Silence is bliss this holiday season | Column

By Jennifer L. Gray, Ph.D., Federal Way therapist

Breathe in and out, slowly and deeply. Repeat three times. Take a moment to reflect and determine your current level of stress.

If you are feeling stressed out and overwhelmed this holiday season, you are not alone. Many people report increased stress and emotional turmoil during the holidays.

Even familiar, everyday occurrences may feel more stressful, such as the sound of the alarm clock in the morning, traffic and the telephone. Many daily irritations may become compounded by hectic schedules, making even simple requests from family and co-workers a further source of stress.

As a remedy, find a few minutes each day to honor your need for silence and self. This simple act will create a reduction in body tension and stress.

For many people, time to yourself is best captured during the early morning hours. Silence can feel like a rare commodity, particularly in families with small children. Silence and the opportunity to cognitively process without interruption is well worth making time for in a busy schedule. Treat yourself to at least a few minutes a day of blissful silence in order to prepare and set the tone for your whole day.

Silence is greatly under-appreciated in our modern-day world. Revel in any opportunity to experience some peace and quiet. When you are able to find a few stolen moments of silence, resist the urge to automatically fill silence with the radio, TV or other noises. Instead, sit with your thoughts and surround yourself with silence like a warm blanket on a cold day. Take note of your surroundings while remaining mindful of the ability to experience silence.

Solitude and silence do seem to go together, yet silence need not always be enjoyed alone. Have you ever experienced the comfort and relief of another person’s company without feeling the need to fill the space between you with words? Simply spend a few minutes with someone focused on the moment rather than conversation. Enjoy the silence and take comfort in the other's company.

Hopefully there is at least one relationship in your life that allows you and the other person opportunities for mutual silence without feeling awkward or tense.

Remember to make time for yourself this holiday season in order to combat the stress commonly felt this time of year. Allow yourself a few minutes of daily silence to think and decompress. Then take several deep, cleansing breaths to center yourself and fully enjoy the holiday season.

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Jennifer L. Gray, Ph.D., is a private practice therapist in Federal Way. To contact Dr. Gray call (253) 653-0168.

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