Dreading the holiday season


— For many, the holidays are the most stressful time of the year. Shopping on credit, realizing you didn't thaw the turkey and bracing for annual confrontations with family members turn what should be the happiest time of year into a time some people dread.

On Sunday, a new group named the Wellness Alliance of Routt County will offer help through its "Surviving the Holidays with Grace" roundtable discussion. The event will be the first in what Wellness Alliance officials hope will be an every-other-month offering of lectures about physical and emotional health-related topics.

Sunday's workshop will deal with issues such as guilt, family issues, eating too much and the stress people bring on themselves through holiday perfectionism.

The discussion will be led by a panel of five wellness providers -- nutritional consultant Lynne Garell, Rolfers Thomas Walker and Gale Loveitt, retired radio-oncologist Carole Milligan and psychotherapist Cate Potyen. Dale Morris will moderate.

The Wellness Alliance of Routt County is a network of massage therapists, fitness workers, chiropractors, nutritional consultants and other holistic care providers. The group formed in hopes of making it easier for people to navigate the ever-growing number of wellness professionals in the area. As they get more established, the Wellness Alliance will offer referrals as well as informational workshops such as "Surviving the Holidays with Grace."

Most holiday stress is self-inflicted by expectations, Morris said.

"People should ask themselves, 'Are you expecting a fight?' Instead, you should have an expectation to do what you can to enjoy yourself."

What: Wellness Alliance of Routt CountyWhen: 4 to 5:30 p.m. SundayWhere: Conference Room 1, Yampa Valley Medical CenterCost: FreeCall: 879-2111

The first advice Morris offers is being aware of your body and what you are doing.

Shallow breathing, tension in the shoulders and neck, headaches and overeating are signs of stress.

"People get so caught up in family dynamics they stuff themselves," Morris said. "They just start shoveling (food) in and don't even notice how full they feel."

The panel will discuss ways to keep from getting sucked in to "the same game" every year.

The easiest thing to do, Morris said, is to focus on enjoying the holiday meal.

"Instead of stuffing yourself, pay attention to the food. Think about who cooked it and how much time they put in, and be grateful that you have food at all," he said. "Think about how much you're putting on your plate. You can go get seconds. Your plate doesn't have to be worthy of humanitarian aid to a small village."

Attendees of Sunday's panel discussion will be given handouts with a list of tips for enjoying the holidays.

"Our goal is for people to go away with concrete ways they can make changes and lead a more healthful life," Morris said.

-- To reach Autumn Phillips, call 871-4210 or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com


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