Let's face it, the holidays are not always filled with peace, love and happiness. In fact, for some people, they can be downright stressful.
I'm one of the later people. Every year as December rolls around, I start to cringe. See, in my family, not only do we celebrate Christmas, but we happen to celebrate six birthdays too: mine, my husband's, my brother's, two of my sisters in law and my grandfather's. So in addition to all the Christmas gifts I get to buy, I also have to come up with birthday gifts. Not to mention the incredibly nice Happy Birthday message from the State of Michigan reminding me to pay my tabs.
It's enough to make a saint stress out.
The holidays have not always been this way. Not too long ago, they were something to look forward to, gather with family and enjoy ourselves. Now too often, any kind of family gathering turns into some bad imitation of an afternoon soap opera.
So with Christmas just around the corner and my stress level steadily increasing, I decided to take a moment for me and indulge in a relaxation massage at LaVida Massage in Brighton.
I met with Julia Hoose, owner of the Brighton LaVida to talk to her a little about her business, which not only caters to clients looking for stress relief, but also to those with medical problems that alternate seeing their chiropractor and massage therapist.
It came as no surprise to me, that Hoose's business and sales pick up during the winter months, especially around the time of the holidays.
"During the summertime, people are outdoors or on vacation - they don't really think about massage, I think because there are other things to do," she said. "They are more happy in general. So there isn't any need to come here for stress relief."
I honestly didn't know quite what to expect going into the private room, never having a massage before. But the therapist was very helpful and friendly, putting me right at ease. She let me know what she was doing before doing it, and checked several times that the pressure was not hurting me. And best of all, she broke up a couple nasty knots in my shoulders - most likely put there from all that stress!
All in all, it was a very relaxing experience, right up until she touched my feet - I happen to be very ticklish - which she informed me that next time, I can just tell the therapist to skip.
So one thing I learned from my experience is that it's okay to take several deep breaths and take some time out to focus on yourself if things become too much to handle. The world won't end - at least it didn't on Friday.
However, just because I chose a massage as my stress reliever, does not mean it's for everybody. I've had some friends tell me the idea makes them very uncomfortable.
Hoose told me that many of her clients have said that they feel more relaxation during facials, rather than massages.
"A massage is more concentrated on the body," she explained. "That can be relaxing, but it can also be a little bit painful, it depends on what clients are here for. With the face, it's a very pleasant experience."
I find bubble baths and curling up with a good book are also useful stress relievers. Maybe if I survive the holidays, I can come back and try the facial - which would be another first for me.
How do you relieve stress?